Watering herbs correctly is one of the most critical jobs in herb gardening.
At the same time, watering the plants is easy. You don’t need to overthink the trivial details here.
Instead, you should focus on the big picture and make sure your herbs are watered on a schedule.
There has been much debate among gardeners about how often we should water our herbs. Feel free to compare different gardeners’ watering approaches. Choose the one that suits you best.
Let’s consider this subject in more detail!
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How Often Should You Water Herbs?
In general, herbs require less water than flowers and vegetables.
This is because most species of herbs have adapted to grow in dry conditions. Some herbs even taste better when they’re given their minimum water requirements.
Let’s not overgeneralize, though. The best way to look at your herbs is to categorize them into two groups: moisture-loving herbs and drought-tolerant herbs.
- Moisture-loving Herbs
Moisture-loving herbs grow better in wet soil rather than dry. These include mint, dill, chervil, and bee balm.
A point of interest: most of these herbs are annual or treated as such. That means they only live for one year and usually die at the beginning of winter.
- Drought-tolerant Herbs
The experts consider herbs that thrive in dry soil “drought-tolerant” or “drought-loving” herbs. Rosemary, thyme, and sage are all considered to be drought-tolerant herbs.
A few perennials, such as oregano and catnip, are even said to be “xeriscape species.” That means they can survive on very little water.
We can treat herbs that fall between these two categories as moisture-loving herbs.
Refer to a plant encyclopedia or Google to learn about your herbs’ water requirements. After you have found out which category an herb falls into, you can easily decide how to water it.
Expert gardeners recommend only watering herbs according to their needs. In this case, do not create a schedule at random.
Luckily, there is a rule of thumb regarding when to water your moisture-loving herbs.
Check the first few top inches of your soil. (Don’t be afraid to use your finger to feel the soil.) If you think it’s dry, then you need to water it.
Drought-loving herbs have deeper, more expansive root systems. In this case, you can water them whenever you can feel the soil is extremely dry.
Of course, following a watering schedule is valid. But it’s only valid as long as you’re doing it right.
Please note that there isn’t one blanket watering schedule for every plant out there. Herbs growing in a garden outdoors and indoor potted herbs need different watering schedules.
Luckily, there is a general rule of thumb for this issue: moisture-loving herbs need one-half liter of water for each square foot (nearly 0.1 square meters) of soil every week.
But you can’t use that measurement with potted plants. Instead, you should water your moisture-loving potted herbs once or twice daily. This is imperative in hot seasons.
You don’t need to follow a strict schedule with your drought-loving potted herbs.
Depending on the season, you can water them every few days or each week.
Whatever the case, remember that the best times to water your herbs are very early morning or evening. That way, they won’t lose water by evaporation.
But what if you can’t check your potted herbs daily? You can use a self-watering device that irrigates your plants automatically through drip irrigation.
Some of the most famous self-watering devices are called “watering globes.” These drippers are highly effective, easy to use, and affordable. They will water your herbs for up to two weeks once you fill them with water.
How To Know If You’re Doing Things Right
Herbs are honest about their needs and will warn you when they’re upset with the amount of water they’re getting.
There are several signs you should look for in such a situation:
- Leaves may become discolored (brown)
- Blisters and lesions appear
- Wilting (in moist soil)
- Fungal diseases infect the herbs
- Wilting (in dry soil)
- Leaves will become curly and yellow and sometimes decay
It’s doubtful you’ll encounter these symptoms in your plants. But if you do, you should act as quickly as possible—especially in drought conditions.
Add one drop of biodegradable liquid soap to each half-liter of water. Then you can feed your thirsty herbs.
The soap will allow the dry soil to open. That helps the water reach the roots faster.
In both cases, change your watering routine to a more balanced routine. Increase or decrease the amount of water per week.
Also, titrate the number of watering days per week or month—and that should do the trick!
Tips And Advice To Water Efficiently
Here are a few essential tips to help you become more efficient with watering.
Check the type of soil you’re using before establishing a watering schedule. Some soils can trap more water than others.
You should always avoid clay soil because it traps a lot of water. Also, stay away from sandy soil because it drains too quickly.
Focus your choices on premium fast-draining or organic soil. It needs to trap a balanced amount of water while allowing the roots to breathe.
Depending on the plant you’re growing, you can amend the soil with one of two things.
The first is perlite (a water-draining material); the second is organic matter (a water-trapping material). These amendments will help to increase or decrease your plant’s water retention capacity.
Organic Matter And Compost
Use organic substances in your garden. That’s the best way to keep your moisture-loving herbs happy all the time.
Any organic matter, such as compost, can hold onto and trap water. This feature allows you to use less water.
You can use compost or other organic matter, such as shredded bark, to cover the soil. We call that “top-dressing.” Learn more about compost for herbs.
Water Your Herbs Deeply
Be sure you’re not only watering the top one or two inches of soil. This dictum holds particularly true if you’re growing your herbs outdoors.
In other words, water your herbs deeply.
Be patient while watering; don’t stop immediately. And here’s an important tip: make sure to water right at the base of the herb, not just around it.
Herb Seeds & Seedlings Have Delicate Water Requirements
It’s vital to bear in mind that you cannot treat seeds and seedlings the same way as grown herbs.
You should gently water the seeds every day. Daily watering will keep the soil moist—but at the same time, you must take care not to overwater them.
Seedlings also require a lot of water. It would be best if you watered them in small amounts once or twice daily because their roots are shallow.
Growing herbs under unregulated conditions would require you to track the weather carefully.
You’ll need to water your herbs more frequently when it’s hot to compensate for the water lost by evaporation.
That’s all you need to know about watering herbs!
Don’t forget to tell us about your watering experience, and be sure to leave any questions in the comments below!