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Basic questions when growing herbs in pots

Hi, first-time poster here!

My girlfriend and I tried growing some basil, parsley, and cilantro in small (around 4-5" in diameter) pots recently, and there were a few problems that I noticed. Can someone provide me with some advice on these? I think we used Scott's Premium Potting Soil.

1. Sowing: how many seeds do I put in one spot in one pot? Can I sow in more than one spot in a small pot? I read about 5 seeds together in one spot.

2. Soil firmness and watering: I noticed that when watering the plants, the soil gets moved around by the water and exposing the lower part of the plant even if I watered them gently. I had just poured the soil into the pots and noticed that the soil "level" became lower after a couple of waterings. Do I need to firm the soil after sowing? If so, how firm should the soild be?

3. Water drainage: each pot has a drainage hole, but I keep reading about "good drainage." I've read about digging a hole in the ground about a foot deep and doing the water draining test, but I have no land for that, and I'm using pots. To have good drainage in a small pot, is the hole on the bottom sufficient? Would lining the bottom of the pot with something beneficial?

Thanks for your help! I hope to learn a lot from this forum!

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Location: TN/GA 7b

Hi and welcome to the Forum!

A 4-5 inch pot is small. It is enough (maybe) for ONE plant, if you intend to keep the plant in it. I grow basil in pots, but they are 12" pots and I put one or two plants in them. Your basil plant would do better with a bigger pot. Parsley is a smaller plant, your little pot would be good for one parsley plant or maybe two if you crowd them. I've never grown cilantro.

Your 4" pots are fine for starting the seeds in, if you later transplant them to bigger pots. You can definitely plant seeds in several spots in the pot. Don't plant seeds all in one spot. Then when you want to thin them or transplant them, the roots are all tangled up together and it is difficult to separate them without injuring them.

BEFORE you plant the seeds, fill your pot up with potting soil, then water it well and then firm the soil down a bit and fill the pot up again and water again. After that you shouldn't need to keep doing that. When you plant the seeds, just pat them down lightly to be sure they are in contact with the soil and cover them with a little more soil. If the soil level gets low after that just add a bit more.

If you are using potting soil (NOT garden dirt) in a pot with drainage holes, as long as the water readily comes back out the drainage holes when you water, you are fine for drainage. The only caution is if you are using saucers under your pots, don't leave water standing in the saucers.

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Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:12 am

Thanks for the great info! I should just go buy 12" pots to replace these little ones! If I want to keep the plants in these pots, how should I arrange sowing the seeds?

Correction: The plants I have are basil, parsley, and oregano, not cilantro.

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