Gardening expert shares which fertiliser to ‘avoid’ when planting herbs or risk flowering

Ellen Mary shares tips for planting herbs in containers

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Gardening expert, presenter and writer Ellen Mary showed keen gardeners how to plant herbs in containers in a 2019 video for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Ellen said herbs can really “liven up” a space and can add both texture, scent and colour to your home or garden. However, while it may sound simple enough to plant herbs, Ellen said gardeners need to be careful when it comes to choosing fertiliser.

She said: “Use balanced fertiliser in spring to encourage leafy growth but potassium-rich fertiliser is best avoided as it might promote flowering instead.

“Keep your herbs in a sunny place near the house so that you can get to them easily to use in cooking.

“They will mostly look after themselves as long as they don’t get too wet or too dry.

“You can protect container-grown hardy herbs in winter by raising the containers onto pot feet to improve the drainage.”

Ellen said most plants can be planted in containers using seeds.

She continued: “Herbs are a great asset for both your garden and your kitchen and can really liven up a space.

“They’re really easy to plant and grow and they don’t need much time or attention.

“Most herbs can be grown in containers and they can easily be saved from seeds you can buy from nurseries or garden centres.”

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However, while it may be tempting to buy already potted herbs from the supermarket, Ellen warned they don’t always flourish when they’re put outdoors.

She said: “Beware a planting pot-grown herbs from the supermarket as these don’t adapt well to life outdoors.

“Seeds of tender herbs such as basil and coriander and tender perennials like French tarragon can be sown indoors in spring for planting outdoors when there’s no risk of frost.

“Hardy herbs like mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage can live outside all year round after they’ve been established.

“So these indoors in spring or outdoors in containers in May.

“Choose containers which give herbs a deep root run so they can be left undisturbed.

“Long-term pots like these have a good amount of depth and look great if you’ve got a few placed together.”

The materials you will need to plant herbs are seeds, containers, compost, grit or perlite, fertiliser and a watering can.

Ellen suggests adding compost to your containers and using a gritty well-drained loam-based compost.

She also recommended using John Innes No1 with one part coarse grit or perlite to three parts compost is ideal.

John Innes No1 is for young plants and contains a medium level of peat for a better, more consistent growth.

It will also improve moisture retention in your herb’s soil.

“Keep the compost moist but not soggy,” she added.

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