Choosing the Best Pots for Your Herbs

Herbs can be adapted and be grown in any pot so long as it’s big enough and has drainage holes at the base. But, certain types of pots are more suitable to grow herbs than other types…

Terracotta and ceramic pots are the most suitable pots to grow herbs. Terracotta and ceramic pots that measure 12 inches in diameter, don’t dry as quickly as metal or plastic pots, and have enough soil to hold enough moisture to allow herbs to grow in full sun , and to protect their roots from frigid temperatures.

Read on for the most important factors to consider when planting herbs in pots so that you can select the ideal pot to grow plants in your garden…

Best Pot Size for Herbs

Herbs are available in a range of shapes and sizes , with annuals like dill and chives generally being smaller and compact, whereas certain cultivars of rosemary may be several feet wide when fully mature, but all herbs thrive in pots because of the ideal drainage conditions.

The ideal size of pot to grow herbs is one that is 12-16 inches in diameter with the same proportional depth that is suitable for all kinds of herbs.

This is due to the fact that the pot’s size must be large enough to allow for soil that can hold in moisture the plants to withstand extreme temperatures during the peak of summer in the scorching sun and to allow the soil to function as an insulation during winter because the roots are the coldest sensitive of all the herbs.

If the pot isn’t big enough, the roots of the herb are more prone to cold or frost damage during Winter.

The pot’s size and the capacity of soil to store moisture is especially crucial as certain herbs require full-sun which can significantly increase the speed that a pot is dried out after watering, which makes the plants susceptible to dryness and wilting if the pot isn’t big enough.

herbs in a hand

Pots also elevate the roots of herbs above the ground, which could leave the herb’s roots vulnerable to frost harm if the pot is not large enough. A big pot that has plenty of soil will protect plants from damage caused by the harshest effects of winter’s Winter cold.

This greatly increases the chances of the Mediterranean herbs (lavender rosemary, thyme, rosemary and oregano, as well as sage) to survive winter because they have become accustomed to mild Winters in the Mediterranean and are therefore more prone to the cold.

(Read the article I wrote for further information details on taking care of the lavenders during the winter months).

Good Drainage in the Base of the Pot

The most significant characteristic of a pot to any plant is the fact that it has drainage holes at the base. Without drainage holes at the bottom of the pot water simply collects at the bottom, which in turn saturates the soil, resulting in root rot, which causes the plants to change color from brown or yellow and then die again.

It is equally crucial that drainage holes are free of soil that has been compacted or else that could block the flow of water at the bottom of the pot.

Place a 1-inch layer of stones or gravel on the bottom of the pot to create a structure to ensure that the excess water can flow freely from the bottom of the pot, without being blocked.

If you live in a region with heavy rainfall, another wise step is to put the pot on decorative feet or small stands to raise your pot from the floor, so that the water drains easily and not droop in the base of the container, to make sure that the soil does not dry between periods in watering (which is essential when you grow drought-tolerant Mediterranean plants).

(Read my article on what is the best time should you water your the herbs).

Beware of this common error!

Another error I have seen when gardening plants in pots is choosing the right kind of pot that has drainage holes, but then to put the pot inside an edging or container to collect the water that runs off. Many people do this to prevent the water from leaking and to ensure their patio is dry.

Herbs must be watered thoroughly with a good soak, to ensure that water drips down out from the bottom in the container to promote healthy root growth, which makes them more resilient to drought.

If water accumulates on a tray under the pot of herbs, then the soil is damp which can cause root rot, which could kill your plants.

(Read my article on on how to bring back dying plants).

Best Potting Material for Growing Herbs

Herbs can be grown in pots made from any substance, but there are certain types of pots that are better suited to growing herbs than others.

I’ve personally observed herbs thrive in wood, metal plastic, terracotta, and ceramic pots.

Metal pots, and, to a lesser extent, plastic (particularly when the plastic is dark-colored) tend to get hotter faster in the sun and soak up all of the heat.

This could be a challenge since many herbs like to thrive in full sun and this can cause heat to the soil and roots, causing the soil to dry faster and frequently causes heat stress or drought that can rapidly dehydrate and end up killing green leafy annual plants like mint, basil, cilantro and Dill.

Even plants that are originating from the Mediterranean region of Europe that are adaptable to a dry soil may be susceptible to heat or drought stress when their roots heat up excessively, causing the plants to shrink or even wilt in an indication that they are stressed therefore avoid using the use of metal pots for growing herbs.

Wooden pots are great for herbs with leaves like basil, cilantro, mint and dill since these all need moist, well-drained soil. Additionally, wood holds moisture better than other pots (drainage holes within the base are essential) However, wooden pots are not suitable for the Mediterrneean plants like lavender rosemary, thyme, oreagno and sage as these plants prefer soil that is dry.

Pots made of wood can hold excessive moisture, which can increase the chance of root decay (which could make leaf color to yellow) to the drought-tolerant Mediterranean plants.

My personal favorites to grow herbs is the ceramic or terracotta-style pots. They are more durable to the elements than wood or metal and can withstand weathering better.

Terracotta or ceramic pots are a much thicker than metal and plastic planters or pots. This means that they won’t dry out as quickly during summer, and they will be able to withstand frost better during the Winter to shield the herb’s vulnerable to cold.

To ensure the best results I suggest growing your plants in 12-16 inches of ceramic or terracotta pot, but there is a factor to take into consideration that ceramic and terracotta pots may be considerably heavier than plastic or metal pots.

There are some perennial plants like Lavender and Rosemary that aren’t cold-hardy and may need the indoors to protect them from frost during Winter.

It can be difficult to do this when using heavy ceramic or Terracotta pots, so a lighter one is better when you need the need to transport your containers between indoors and out of the house every year.

(Mediterranean herbs like soil that drains quickly and is dryer while leafy annual plants like soil that is able to hold moisture. Check out my article on the best potting soil for plants to find out how to make the best soil mix for your plants).

Key Takeaways

  • The most suitable pot to grow herbs is ceramic or Terracotta pots that measure minimum 12 inches wide. Terracotta and ceramic pots resist weather better than metal and plastic planters or pots and don’t dry fast when they are in the sun.
  • The ideal size of pot to grow herbs is 12 inches in diameter with the same depth. The size of the pot will have enough soil to provide water for the plants to develop and also can hold enough soil to make sure that root systems of plant are protected from cold.
  • Always plant your plants in pots that have drainage holes at the base so that excess water can be able to escape after watering, thereby preventing overly soaked soil, which can create conditions that cause root rot.
  • Apply a layer of gravel to stop drainage holes from getting blocked, thereby preventing water from flowing out. This will ensure a good drainage and keep herbs from drying out due to fungal and root rot.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)