Our goal is to share information and products that are truly helpful to renters.
If you click on a link or buy a product from one of the partners on our site, we get paid a little bit for making the introduction. This means we might feature certain partners sooner, more frequently, or more prominently in our articles, but we’ll always make sure you have a good set of options. This is how we are able to provide you with the content and features for free. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services — and our opinions and advice are our own based on research and input from renters like you. Here is a list of our partners.
Super simple balcony herb garden you’ll love
Fresh basil can make a boring pasta sauce taste fancy and a summer cocktail taste fresh. But buying fresh herbs can be shockingly expensive: basil, chives and dill can cost nearly $14 per ounce (per ounce!). The good news is that you can save a ton of money by doing it yourself. Here’s how to plant a simple balcony herb garden at your apartment.
Why start a balcony herb garden
There are plenty of great reasons to start a balcony herb garden, the first being that they are cheap and easy to grow. Even someone who has never gardened will find that growing herbs can be pretty rewarding; it takes a minimal amount of skill to turn a little seed into a bushy basil plant!
Some of the great benefits of an herb garden are:
- You’ll save money. Grocery store herbs are expensive and often go bad before you can use them all whereas you can snip only what you need from your lovely rosemary balcony plant for that perfect pasta sauce.
- Tending gardens has great health benefits and has been shown to help reduce stress as well as get you out in the sunshine for some much-needed vitamin D.
- Herb gardens make a nice, inexpensive decoration to any apartment balcony adding greenery and something beautiful to look out at while you’re at home.
- Herbs have powerful, familiar fragrances that are wonderful to have around – think, basil, mint, rosemary, and more.
- Fun to share with your neighbors. As your herb garden takes off, you’ll have plenty to share with your friends and neighbors. Dried herbs can make fun gifts too!
If you like to cook, having your own herb garden will up your dinner game. From pasta sauces, to omelets, soups and salads, herbs can really help make the meal. If growing an herb garden inspires you to want to cook more, here’s a great book about cooking with herbs that also includes a guide to growing and maintaining an herb garden.
Drinks are another wonderful way to get the most out of your herb garden. Summertime mint for your mojitos, rosemary-gin concoctions, and basil strawberry daiquiris…herbs can make your drinks taste fresh and unique. If you’re looking for ideas and recipes, take a look at The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart.
How to start your balcony herb garden
The first thing you need to decide is if you want to begin with seeds or starter plants. Seeds can be fun but more challenging to get started. We recommend an herb seed starter kit if you want to do seeds. It comes with a variety of herbs and everything you’ll need to get going.
If you decide to skip the seed step and go straight to the starter plants, all you’ll need are the following:
Your starter herbs. Any Lowe’s, Home Depot, variety store, or local nursery will have starter plants available.
Not sure what herbs you want to grow? Here is a list of some of the most popular herbs and some ideas for how to use them.
|Herb||Type||Balcony light||Good for|
|Basil||Annual||Full sun||pasta sauces and pesto|
|Chamomile||Annual||Full sun||Teas and oils|
|Chervil||Perennial||Partial shade||Omelets to rich creamy sauces|
|Chives||Perennial||Full or Partial shade||Soups, dips, baked potatoes, seafood|
|Cilantro||Annual||Full sun or partial shade||Salsas, stir-fries and curries|
|Dill||Annual||Partial shade||Salads, fish, egg, vegetables and meat dishes, sauces and dressings|
|Lavender||Perennial||Full sun||Aromatherapy and oils|
|Lemon Verbena||Perennial||Full sun||Roasts, poultry, salad dressing, soups|
|Lovage||Perennial||Partial shade||Soups, stews, pork and poultry|
|Mint||Perennial||Partial shade||Teas, mojitos and salads|
|Oregano||Perennial||Full sun||Tomato based dishes and meats|
|Parsley||Biennial||Full sun or partial shade||Bulgur salads, accents to food|
|Rosemary||Perennial||Full sun||Meats, tomato sauce, soups|
|Sage||Perennial||Full sun||Pork, poultry, stuffing|
|Thyme||Perennial||Full sun or Partial shade||Stews, sauce, vegetables and meats|
|Wild garlic||Perennial||Partial shade||Omelets, dips, sauces and more|
Avoid containers that are too small because they won’t be able to support your little herb buddy as it grows.
Also, avoid porous materials such as terra cotta. Although terra cotta satisfies your sense of old-world Mediterranean, they do not hold water well and your soil will dry out much faster. Go for larger ceramic containers that will stand up to wind, be roomy enough for a couple of plants, and won’t dry out at the first sign of a warm day.
Another great option that we love are stackable planters that allows you to have a pretty big little garden on your balcony. Added bonus – it just looks like terra cotta but it’s made of plastic which means better water retention.
Not all dirt is equal when it comes to your balcony herb garden. Shop for soil-based compost rather than peat-based. Peat compost is lighter, dries out quickly, and because of the high amount of carbon that is stored in it, is bad for the environment.
Soil-based compost, on the other hand, is heavier, which helps keep plants from blowing over on a windy balcony. It also retains water better which means that your herbs won’t dry out as quickly if you forget to water them.
Tips to help your balcony herb garden thrive
1. Know your light
Most herbs grow best in full sunlight or partial shade. So before you spend a dime on seeds or starts, you’ll need to figure out how much sunlight your balcony gets. Is it an east, west, south, or north-facing balcony?
South and west-facing balconies will be great for hardier, sun-loving plants such as rosemary, lavender, tomatoes, basil, and sage. One thing to remember—you may need to water twice on really hot days during the summer to keep them from becoming too parched.
If you have a full sun balcony but want to grow partial-shade herbs, consider creating a make-shift shelter for some artificial shade. This BeGrit sun block is nice because it allows partial sunlight through and comes in a variety of sizes. Besides protecting your herb garden it will help keep your apartment cooler in the summer as well. (Make sure to check with your landlord or property manager about any balcony covering rules.)
Another great sun protection option that looks a little more “au naturelle” are artificial plants. Your balcony just got even more green, with no watering required!
East-facing balconies will be great for partial shade herbs such as parsley, mint, dill, and cilantro.
North-facing balconies may be the toughest to grow an herb garden on. Mint will be a great choice for a northern balcony. If you have a window inside that gets better sun than your balcony, you might want to try growing your herb garden indoors instead..
2. Start with starters
Planting seeds and nurturing them into full-grown plants can be pretty rewarding. But it’s also more time-intensive and takes more care and intention. That’s why we generally lean towards starters.
Starters are plants that have been nurtured through their most delicate stages of life by professional gardeners and are ready to be planted and grown by the time you get them. Although a starter will cost a little more money than a pouch of seeds, you will need less setup equipment and care to get them thriving.
There is also no waiting period—you bring your starter home, plant it in a pot, and you’re off and running. No worrying about the best time to plant then waiting for sprouts to appear (or maybe they never do).
3. Watering tips for your herbs
- Try to water between 6 am to 10 am – this will maximize the amount of water absorbed and won’t evaporate in the heat of the day.
- Spread water evenly on the soil rather than concentrating at the base of the plant to avoid excess water being trapped around the roots.
- Larger containers will hold more water for longer periods – check to see if the soil is very moist or dry to determine if you need to water.
- Feed your herbs a bit of fertilizer, 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 strength, a couple of times per year.
- Always read the instructions that your herb comes with for the exact watering needs of your plant.
4. Snipping, pinching, and trimming herbs
For herbs like basil, experts recommend snipping them from the top down. But for other herbs like oregano, thyme, or mint, you can snip wherever you like. To keep your herbs looking healthy and full, regularly snip and prune. Trim off any damaged leaves and pinch leaves just above the leaf node to energize other buds to grow.
How and when to plant your balcony herb garden
For most renters, you can grow herbs year round with a bit of effort. If you live in a temperate climate, you can keep them on the balcony. If your winters are freezing, then let your herbs move indoors for the season. Alternatively, you can look into a mini greenhouse cover for protection and to extend your growing season.
At the very least, make sure to wrap pot bases in something insulating, like blankets, to protect the roots from freezing.
Looking to add more than just herbs? Here are some of our favorite low-maintenance plants to consider adding to your balcony or patio. Plants plus herbs are a great way to extend your living space and bring a bit more calm and relaxation to your home.
How to enjoy your fresh cut herbs
Once you have fresh herbs from your balcony, a whole world of recipes awaits. Let your herbs get to about 4-6 inches before you start snipping leaves, or at least have enough leaves that they can sustain growth. The best time to snip your herbs is before they flower.
Chopping your herbs small and crushing them in your hand releases the flavors. Add them at the end of your recipe for the best results, otherwise, the heat can destroy flavors. Try infusing olive oil, making a basil Caprese, adding to a homemade soup, or even a Pork tenderloin.
A balcony herb garden for any apartment
While it might seem a little daunting at first or that you don’t have the space, planting a simple balcony herb garden can be done nearly anywhere. Once you have your supplies in hand, all you need is a little bit of water and sunlight to grow some tasty plants that make your taste buds—and your budget—happy.
Your renters rights, in your state.
Explore what you need to know.
- Alabama Renters Rights
- Alaska Renters Rights
- Arizona Renters Rights
- Arkansas Renters Rights
- California Renters Rights
- Colorado Renters Rights
- Connecticut Renters Rights
- Delaware Renters Rights
- Florida Renters Rights
- Georgia Renters Rights
- Hawaii Renters Rights
- Idaho Renters Rights
- Illinois Renters Rights
- Indiana Renters Rights
- Iowa Renters Rights
- Kansas Renters Rights
- Kentucky Renters Rights
- Louisiana Renters Rights
- Maine Renters Rights
- Maryland Renters Rights
- Massachusetts Renters Rights
- Michigan Renters Rights
- Minnesota Renters Rights
- Mississippi Renters Rights
- Missouri Renters Rights
- Montana Renters Rights
- Nebraska Renters Rights
- Nevada Renters Rights
- New Hampshire Renters Rights
- New Jersey Renters Rights
- New Mexico Renters Rights
- New York Renters Rights
- North Carolina Renters Rights
- North Dakota Renters Rights
- Ohio Renters Rights
- Oklahoma Renters Rights
- Oregon Renters Rights
- Pennsylvania Renters Rights
- Rhode Island Renters Rights
- South Carolina Renters Rights
- South Dakota Renters Rights
- Tennessee Renters Rights
- Texas Renters Rights
- Utah Renters Rights
- Vermont Renters Rights
- Virginia Renters Rights
- Washington Renters Rights
- West Virginia Renters Rights
- Wisconsin Renters Rights
- Wyoming Renters Rights
- Washington, D.C. Renters Rights