5 Great Herbs to Grow in Sunny Hanging Baskets

Pruning hanging basket in greenhouse
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A great way to grow herbs is by planting them in hanging baskets that can bask in the full sun. Your herb baskets can be hung from an arbor or pergola above a deck or patio, or placed outside a kitchen window where harvesting is as easy as opening the window and snipping fresh greenery for your recipes. 

Planting a basket of herbs is much the same as planting any hanging container of annual flowering plants. Use a good potting soil mix that drains well but also contains organic material that will hold some moisture. Adding a time-release fertilizer at the time of planting is a good idea, but herbs do not require as much feeding as ornamental flowering plants, so go easy. Line your basket with moss or a piece of landscape fabric before adding potting soil. This will both protect the basket and prevent soil from washing through the basket when you water. 

The larger the hanging basket you use, the more different types of herbs you can grow in it. The same principles used for creating ornamental flowering baskets apply to an herb basket. Include an upright specimen, such as lady's mantle; "filler" herbs such as savory; and "spiller" herbs that will cascade over the sides of the basket, such as creeping thyme. 

When planted this way, though, herbs can dry out a bit unless you are careful. Not every herb is suited for this environment, so it is important to choose herbs that are well suited. Here are five plants that are heat-tolerant and can stand to dry out a bit between waterings. 

  • 01 of 05

    Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox)

    Creeping Thyme
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    Choose a prostrate or creeping variety of thyme for your basket. Creeping Thyme will spill over the sides of the basket and will also help to shade the soil of the basket, slowing evaporation. Thyme is a woody-based perennial herb, though often planted anew each season, especially when grown in containers. 

    While this plant is not grown for flowers, the blooms do attract butterflies and other pollinators, so you may want to leave some of the blooms intact rather than snipping them away.

    This variety of thyme is used more often as an ornamental, not a culinary herb, but its flavor is similar to the more common culinary variety, Thymus vulgaris.

    • USDA Growing Zone: 5 to 8; often grown as an annual
    • Color Varieties: Pale lilac; not normally grown for flowers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, general-purpose potting mix
  • 02 of 05

    Winter Savory (Satureja montana)

    USA, New York State, New York City, Winter savory on table
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    Winter savory is a fast-growing herb that tops out at about 12 inches high but can be harvested as soon as it reaches about 5 inches. It retains its pungent flavor, even when dried. Harvest a nip here and there as you care for your basket throughout the season. This is a mounding plant that makes a good "filler" in mixed herb baskets.

    • USDA Growing Zone: 6 to 8; usually grown as an annual
    • Color Varieties: White, lilac (not grown for flowers)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, general-purpose potting mix
  • 03 of 05

    Prostrate Rosemary ​(​Salvia rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis)

    Rosemary Herb Plant Vegetable Garden, Fresh Green Leaf Sprigs Close-up
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    Rosemary loves growing in a hot and dry environment, making it perfect for hanging baskets. Make sure to choose a prostrate variety; the standard variety is an upright plant that can grow rather tall. Prostrate rosemary likes dry conditions, so make sure to plant it with other herbs with similar needs.

    • USDA Growing Zone: 8 to 10; usually grown as an annual
    • Color Varieties: White, pale blue (not grown for flowers)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, general-purpose potting mix
  • 04 of 05

    Prostrate Sage (Salvia officinalis)

    sage plant

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    You may be surprised to know that even sage has a prostrate variety that does well in a basket in full sun. Harvest it all season and dry it as you go. By the end of the season, you will have enough prostrate sage stored away to last the entire winter. Although sage likes plenty of sun, it does not do well under extreme heat. It thrives, though, in a moderate climate when placed in full sun.

    • USDA Growing Zone: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue (not grown for flowers)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, general-purpose potting mix
    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

    Lady's Mantle

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    Bringing an artistic flair to any gardening container, lady's mantle is a delicate and lovely herb to include in a sunny basket. Lady's mantle is not an herb, but it adds shape to your sunny herb basket and can be used to make soaps and lotions. Although lady's mantle is a perennial plant, it is often grown as an annual when used in container gardening. 

    In warmer climates, lady's mantle appreciates some shade; in cooler climates, plant it in full sun, if possible. To avoid fungal problems, give the plants plenty of space to encourage air circulation.

    • USDA Growing Zone: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow-green
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, general-purpose potting mix