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Design a Container Garden of Fragrant Herbs and Flowers in 5 Easy Steps

Published on March 09, 2016

Learn how to design a container garden of fragrant herbs and flowers in 5 easy steps.

Enjoy the scents of summer with an attractive container arrangement of fragrant flowers and herbs placed at the kitchen door or by the seating area on the patio.

  1. Start with a container about 18 inches in diameter. Terra cotta lends a natural, earthy look while resin-based look-alikes are better at retaining moisture. Whichever type you choose, make sure it has holes at the bottom for drainage. Fill the pot to about two-thirds with a premium potting mix that contains slow-release fertilizer to give your plants a good start, and moisture-retentive materials such as coir, a super-absorbent coconut fibre product to reduce the frequency of watering.
  2. Then, place tall, upright plants towards the back of the pot, first removing them gently from their pots. African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum) is an ornamental herb with dark blue flower spikes and pungent, purple-veined leaves. Grown primarily for its beautiful flowers, this annual basil can also be used in cooking. Next to it, nest an upright clump of rosemary to add texture and a woodsy fragrance.
  3. Around the basil and rosemary, cluster three purple-flowering heliotropes. The heady vanilla scent of these annuals will quickly fill the air. Next to these, group two scented geraniums (Pelargonium). Unlike varieties typically grown in window boxes and many summer containers, scented geraniums are selected for their scented leaves, rather than for their flowers. Take your pick, from pungent spice, peppermint and musk to lemon, mint and even coconut.
  4. Complete the arrangement by trailing lemon thyme, white or pink-flowering sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and petunias in blue, purple or white—or bi-coloured purple and white or blue and white varieties.
  5. Fill in any spaces with more potting soil, tamping it down gently to remove any air bubbles. Be sure to leave a 3-centimetre space below the rim so that the container doesn’t overflow when watered. Water thoroughly, until it runs out the hole in the bottom of the pot. Monitor moisture levels throughout the season, checking dryness with your thumb. Enjoy!


By Lorraine Flanigan

To help create greener, more sustainable cities, Evergreen fosters organic gardening practices through providing hands-on workshops, hosting planting events and supporting urban agriculture initiatives. Evergreen is grateful for Bonterra’s contribution to Evergreen’s urban agriculture and community enhancement programs across Canada. With this collaboration, we will advance the conservation of urban green space through community greening projects that connect people with nature.