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A Guide To Watering Herbs - Best Practices for a Healthy Herb Garden

Growing an outdoor herb garden is a rewarding way to produce healthy additions to your diet. Like any garden project, watering is very important. Knowing how to water herbs will help to improve the health of your plants as well as their yield.

Watering herbs outdoors is not as complicated as you might think. We've put together a little guide that will help you manage the process, and you may even learn something new about the watering requirements of individual herbs. Here's what you need to know.

How Much Water Do Herbs Need?

Knowing how much water the various herb species in your garden need can be tricky. There are a lot of variables that come into play. These include climate, sun exposure and other factors.

Herbs must be watered on a regular basis. The important thing is to find the proper balance and avoid overwatering. Learning how to spot overwatering is your best safeguard. Over time you will be able to determine the proper method of watering herbs in your garden’s unique environment.

Many herbs are hardy. They can tolerate soil that is moderately dry. You want to keep an eye out for wilting when the soil is wet. Ideally, your herbs should make quick use of the water you give them. Saturated soil is not what you are after.

Pay close attention to the coloration of the leaves on your herbs. Yellow leaves can be a sign of too much water, and so can black leaves. If you spot any mildew or fuzz on the herbs, too much moisture can be the problem.

A good herb watering strategy involves observation. You need to spend time with your plants each day to monitor how water affects them. Make notes if necessary.

How Often Should You Water Herbs?

Once you have determined how much water your outdoor herb garden needs, understanding how often to water herbs is much easier, but you also need knowledge of the local climate.

You want to shoot for a routine that allows for daily, consistent watering. Bear in mind that watering too little is easier to fix than overwatering. You will need to make adjustments, of course, depending on local rainfall and other factors.

Here is the reality. A schedule of daily watering may not be feasible. Many herb gardeners report that they have had good results watering once or twice each week. Just make sure that the soil around the base of the herb does not become too dry.

The big mistake would be to overwater because it is convenient for you. Don't do that. A healthy herb garden requires a commitment of your time.

When Should You Water Your Herbs?

Watering herbs is best done in the early morning hours. If you water when the temperature is cooler, the water that you apply will efficiently reach the root system of your plants.

There is also less chance of evaporation when you water in the morning hours, say between the hours of 6 and 10. This schedule of watering will also allow the gradual warming to dry the leaves of your herbs, preventing excess water from causing mildew or disease.

Individual Watering Requirements for Herbs

You should know that understanding how to water herbs involves knowing the requirements for different species. Here's a brief look at how different types should be watered.

Basil

When basil is planted outdoors in full sun, a good watering once per week is the rule of thumb. You should test the soil around the base of the plant. Insert a finger into the soil. What you want is a cool and slightly moist base of soil. Basil is particularly susceptible to overwatering.

Chives

For chives it is best to give the herb a thorough watering once or twice a week. You should then let the soil around the herb dry completely before you water again. You can soak chives without fear of affecting their health as long as you let the water absorb before the next application.

Cilantro

This herb can add lots of flavor to your homemade southwestern dishes. To enjoy it throughout a long growing season, make sure to keep about 1" of moisture around the base of the plant at all times. It can be tricky to discover the right schedule for watering herbs outdoors, but once you do, you'll find that the reward is a healthy, aromatic plant.

Dill

Proper watering is a must for growing dill. You will need to maintain about 1 to 2 inches of damp soil around the plants. Remember to cut back on the watering if you live in an area that receives a good amount of rain. You should also make sure that your garden of dill has adequate drainage.

Fennel

Consistent watering is the key to raising healthy fennel. You should establish a practice of keeping the soil of this herb moist. Water when the top 1" of soil becomes dry. Fennel is an herb that will thrive on a regular watering routine. Be sure to adjust your watering around any rainfall that you may receive.

Mint

Mint is a staple of most outdoor herb gardens. It has a pleasant fragrance and a nice appearance. Varieties of mint are also one of the few garden herbs that require daily watering. A delicate balance must be maintained if you want the best yield and health. The soil around mint plants should be moist at all times. This can create a tendency to overwater, so use diligence to make sure the soil is not too saturated.

Oregano

Oregano is a hardy plant that appreciates sun just as much as it loves water. Your best practice when watering herbs like oregano is to water thoroughly on a less-frequent basis. Oregano can tolerate a little more moisture. Water generously and allow the soil to dry before repeating the process. Don't let the soil dry out too much in between watering days.

Parsley

Parsley that is grown outdoors requires a thorough watering once or twice each week. The soil should be damp to a depth of around 2 inches. Allow the soil to mostly dry before you water in abundance again. Keep the water around the base of the plants and try to keep the leaves as dry as possible.

Rosemary

Rosemary is an herb that does not tolerate excess amounts of water. Watering too often can lead to root rot and other problems. In areas where rosemary receives six hours of sunlight each day, you should water no more than once every one to two weeks. Make sure the ground around the plant is kept moist, but beware of saturation.

Sage

You should only water sage when the soil has become dry. Give the plant a thorough watering and leave it until you notice the dry soil around the plant's base. Don't be alarmed. Sage tolerates drought-like conditions better than most herbs, and that makes it a very good choice for most herb gardens.

Thyme

Thyme is an herb that can thrive with very little watering. You should only have to water this herb every 10–15 days. Thyme is also a plant that can thrive in colder months thanks to its hardy nature.

Spending a little time in the study of herb watering and care can have a beneficial impact on your herb garden. Remember, growing herbs is about more than producing healthy additives for your dishes. It is also about creating beautiful additions to your garden that smell good and can also help some other plants thrive.


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