Beginners' guide to growing herbs

Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow, and the most delicious. Grow them in the garden, on a windowsill or in pots and take your cooking to a whole new level.

Growing herbs is simple, it’s choosing which ones to grow that‘s the tricky part!

To make it easy, we’ve got all the basics covered:

  • Types of herbs
  • Choosing your herbs
  • How to plant and grow herbs
  • Growing herbs in pots
  • How to harvest herbs
  • Preserving your herbs

light-bulb-icon@2x.png Types of herbs

Herbs not only provide the chef with delicious fresh flavours, they also look great too! Grow them in garden beds, borders, pots and window-boxes and take your cooking to a whole new level. If you give your herbs the best possible start, you’ll be rewarded with loads of produce and very few pests or problems.


There are two main types of herbs: Annual like basil that grows and dies within the same year and perennial such as rosemary which is a woody shrub that lives for many years.

  1. Annual herbs have a specific growing season. Buy them as seedlings in Spring or Autumn and harvest a little at a time until they start to flower. When they flower, they are about to go to seed and die so harvest the whole plant and preserve (see below).

  2. Perennial herbs become a staple in the garden, always on hand when you need a sprig or leaf to flavour up a soup, stock or casserole. They need annual pruning and applications of controlled release fertiliser in Spring and Autumn.

light-bulb-icon@2x.png Choosing your herbs


Don’t get caught up in the hype - grow only those herbs that you will use. It’s easy to get excited at the nursery and grab four different kinds of mint, only to take them home and have them take over your garden ... and you don’t even use any of them!

Start with the herbs you use most like rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme and then, when you notice another herb that you often use, add that to your fresh food pantry too.

exclamation-icon@2x.png How to plant herbs


To plant and grow herbs in the garden, you will need:

  • Trowel and/or shovel
  • Garden gloves
  • Potted herbs
Step 1

Prepare your soil

Improve your soil prior to planting with organic matter: Scotts Osmocote Professional Compost & Soil Improver and Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics Vegetable & Herb Mix.  To learn more about improving your soil and preparing for planting, refer to Starting your patch from scratch.

Step 2

How to plant:

a) Choose a growing position with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day and enough room for the herb to reach the mature size listed on the label

b) Water the potted herb prior to planting

c) Make a planting hole large enough for the herb and its entire root ball

d) Carefully tap the herb out of the pot

e) Check the roots and gently tease out if necessary. If you can see lots of roots circling around the base of the pot, use a knife to make 3-4 shallow vertical cuts at the base of the root ball to encourage the roots to grow out

f) Place the plant in the hole. Make sure it is at the same depth as it was in the pot

g) Backfill around the plant, pressing the soil down firmly

h) Water generously with Scotts Pure Organic Premium Seaweed Plant Food to settle it in

Step 3

Keep your herbs healthy by:

exclamation-icon@2x.png Growing herbs in pots


To plant and grow herbs in pots, you will need:

  • A pot, container, hanging basket or trough
  • Premium potting mix for vegetables and herbs
  • Trowel
  • Garden gloves
  • Potted herbs
Step 1
  • Choose a decorative pot large enough for your mature herb. More info on choosing the right pot
  • Choose a premium potting mix designed for vegetables and herbs. Always look for the Australian standard tick
  • Water the herb prior to repotting
Step 2
  • Fill a clean pot with potting mix
  • Make a hole in the centre of the potting mix large enough for the herb's entire root ball
  • Carefully place the herb in the hole, making sure the plant is at the same depth as it was in the previous pot
  • Backfill around the herb, pressing the mix down firmly
  • Water generously with a solution of Scotts Pure Organic Premium Seaweed Plant Food to settle it in
Step 3


Most herbs are best picked frequently. Pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushier, compact growth and to reduce the likelihood of annual herbs running to seed. It’s best to harvest just before use for maximum flavour and freshness.

Preserving your herbs

Herbs are best used fresh from the garden, but there are times when you may need to preserve them


There are several ways to preserve your herbs:

  • Dry – either air dry by hanging in bunches upside down or you can use the oven on a very low temp. Store them in a cool, dry environment
  • Freeze – place on baking paper in the freezer and, when frozen, place in snap-lock bags (this keeps the leaves separated)
  • Convert – make them into something tasty with a longer shelf-life; turn your excess basil into pesto or transform dill into a delicious sauce

Tips, tricks & advice

How to grow the tastiest tomatoes

Enjoy an abundance of tasty tomatoes this summer with these simple tips on:

Read more

Choosing the right pot for your crop

When choosing the right pot for your edible garden, you need to consider:

Read more

Other products you might need

Scotts Osmocote® Plus Organics Vegetable, Tomato & Herb Plant Food & Soil Improver


Designed for all vegetables and herbs, this plant food combines the best of both worlds, creating a healthier growing environment and sturdier plants

Scotts Pure Organic Vegetable & Herb Premium Plant Food


A premium blend of 100% natural nutrients means you can give your vegetables and herbs all the nourishment they need. You’ll have luscious tasty food you can share while feeding your garden the natural way.

Scotts Osmocote® Plus Organics Vegetable & Herb Mix


A premium mix developed specially for vegetables and herbs that nurtures plant growth and health above and below the soil. It is perfect for pots and raised garden beds

Scotts Osmocote® Plus Trace Elements: Vegetable, Tomato, Herb & Garden Beds


A twice-a-year fertiliser that promotes flowering and fruiting of annuals, perennials, bulbs, vegetables, herbs and tomatoes

Scotts Pure Organic Premium Compost & Soil Improver


A premium quality certified 100% organic compost and soil improver that keeps things simple for growing tasty food and gorgeous flowers and foliage. It improves the overall vitality of your soil so plants grow better and stronger.

Scotts Osmocote® Professional Vegetable, Tomato & Herb Mix


A specially formulated potting and planting mix for vegetables, tomatoes and herbs in pots, gardens and in raised beds and planter boxes.