Using Drought Tolerant Perennials in Your Container Herb Garden

Posted by: on April 18th, 2012 | 4 Comments
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Drought tolerant perennials in a window box


Here’s a DIY container herb garden project that will set you up with a fairly low maintenance little garden that should come back each spring, and last for years to come. Plus, it will use less water than other herb gardens, which is great for water conservation.

The key is using drought tolerant perennials.

In the window box shown above, I used lavender, rosemary and sage (from left to right); these three herbs always play nice together because they all like well-drained soil and full sun.

To get started, you’ll need:

1 window box with a coco liner
1 lavender plant
1 rosemary plant
2 small sage plants (or 1 large sage plant)
potting soil
Shake ‘n Feed (optional)

Coco liner for herb window box

Use a window box with a coco liner (shown above), as it’s better than a plastic window box for drought tolerant plants, which need well-drained soil. But, if you’re thinking of planting a vertical herb garden, be sure to group drought resistant plant species together in one area, so you won’t accidentally overwater them. If you’d like to grow organic herbs, use organic potting mix, like Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix, and skip the shake ‘n feed. You should yield bountiful results either way!

Lavender, rosemary, and thyme in window box

Before you begin planting, arrange your herbs in the empty window box to figure out where you’ll place each plant. I chose to plant the rosemary in the middle because it’ll grow the tallest, creating symmetry between the three herbs.

Potting soil in a coco liner

Begin by filling your window box about 1/4 of the way full of potting soil.

Shake 'n feed plant fertilizer

If you’d like, add a bit of shake ‘n feed fertilizer to the bottom of the window box.

Lavender plant for herb container garden

Next, remove your first plant from the plastic container, and remove much of the soil from the roots. Set the soil aside for later.

Lavender plant in window box

Slide the plant into the window box, pressing it down into the soil below.

Rosemary and lavender in window box

Repeat these steps with each of your herb plants.

Herb container garden

My sage plants were much smaller than my lavender and rosemary plants, so I used two plants instead of one. I also needed to add a few large handfuls of soil to this side of the window box so that the thyme plants would sit evenly with the rosemary plants.

Thyme in window box

Once all of your herbs are in the window box, fill the rest of the container with potting mix.

Drought-resistant herb garden

Now, your window box should be ready to attach to a railing or window sill.

Window box brackets

Using the brackets that come with the window box, attach the box to a railing or window sill (following the directions included).

Drought-resistant herb garden

Water your herb garden once a week, at most. Also, be sure to keep the window box somewhere that it will be exposed to full sun.

Also, keep in mind, rosemary can grow quite large, so unless you plan on transplanting this rosemary plant into the ground after several months, you’ll need to prune it back. When you’re ready to prune, cut it back by no more than 1/3.

Since these three drought-resistant herbs are perennials, leave them in the window box over winter, and they’ll grow back once spring comes back around!

Read more about Basics on Drought Resistant Gardening or watch our YouTube video about Drought Tolerance. Also, find more herb garden inspiration here.

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  1. Carlene Grim says:

    This looks great. I have rosemary, sage, basil, and mint. Will the basil and mint grow in this environment?

    • Hi Carlene,

      Generally, basil likes full sun and mint likes partial sun, so I would suggest not potting them in the same container. The tags that come with the herbs should give you some direction on what kind of conditions each herbs needs, so be sure to compare tags when deciding which species to put together!

      Hope that helps,

  2. Pauline Castro. says:

    That is not thyme-It is sage- and Rosemary is not winter hardy here in the north.
    I’ve been growing herbs in window boxes for years-mounted on my chain link fence. I have oregano & sage in one box that has been coming back every spring for at least 8 or 9 years now.

    • Pauline, Thank you so much! You’re absolutely right, that is sage! I just corrected it. Thank you for pointing that out.

      As far as choosing herbs for your own space, I would definitely suggest doing some research online or asking your local Home Depot Garden Center about which herbs will last through the winter months in your Hardiness Zone. Doesn’t hurt to have all of the information before planting.

      So glad to hear that oregano and sage are your herbs of choice! It’s nice to have kitchen herbs growing in the backyard.

      Happy Planting,