This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, SmarterHomeGardens.com earns a small commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
When I first started my vertical gardening journey I had no idea just how big a part of my life growing herbs would become. Herbs have become a staple in every single vertical garden I have built and I now produce enough to enhance my cooking every single day – much to my fiancé’s benefit.
The best herbs to grow in a vertical garden are small and lightweight with shallow root systems that do not require deep soil. It’s possible to plant multiple varieties of herbs in the same vertical garden together, giving you access to many different flavors all year round.
In the article, we’ll look at each one of my favorite herbs and explore what makes them a great addition to any vertical garden. By the end, you’ll be armed with everything you need to know to produce flavor-enhancing garnishes and seasonings to compliment your cooking all year round.
The most popular vertical garden herbs
I struggled at first to know which herbs were the best to grow in my vertical garden I wasn’t sure. I spent a few seasons testing different herbs to see which worked well and which didn’t.
After much research, and some trial and error, I have now developed an approved list of herbs that work really well in a vertical garden.
|Annual or Perennial
|Perennial (Zone 9+)
While these are my top picks, it’s important to consider which herbs you use the most and when you need them. For example, if you want fresh, aromatic, and low-maintenance herbs in your vertical garden all year round, woody perennials like thyme and rosemary work best.
For more detailed information on each herb, keep scrolling through this article article.
Why herbs grow so well in vertical gardens
1. Herbs are small and lightweight
One of the great benefits of vertical gardening is that containers are stacked or suspended above one another and not placed horizontally along the ground. While this allows you to grow more plants in a smaller space it does mean weight – particularly for containers at the top – becomes a serious consideration.
Thankfully, most herbs are small, lightweight plants and don’t add much mass to your planters over the season, especially if they don’t have a huge amount of soil to work with in the first place. For this reason, they’re excellent in vertical gardens, particularly in the upmost containers, and help to minimize the risk of structural collapse.
2. Most herbs have shallow roots
Herbs tend to have shallower roots than other plants and do not require large amounts of deep soil to be productive. Herbs that do well in shallower soil usually need no more than 3-10 inches of soil. They are adaptable, stretching their roots out horizontally if they can’t get deeper and most are very happy provided they get enough sunshine, water, and nutrients.
My favorite shallow-rooted herbs are Chives, Oregano, and Thyme.
It is possible to grow root vegetables in a vertical garden. Check out my other article if you want to learn more.
3. Most herbs grow well in close proximity to one another
Herbs are pretty friendly with one another and grow great in groups containing multiple varieties, provided they like the same environment. Many even complement each other by repelling different kinds of pests and even larger animals.
However, not all herbs play nice with one another so it’s important to identify these. I’ve included more information below.
Sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, lavender, and oregano make up my favorite combination for a rich-smelling and flavorsome vertical garden bed.
What are the best herbs for a vertical garden?
Now we’ve understood a little about why herbs are a great addition to your vertical garden I can reveal my absolute favorites for growing at home. I’ve selected my top five based on how much I use them day-to-day, their resilience and lifespan, and their smell. You may choose differently! Here we go.
1. Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Rosemary has been a lifelong favorite for me and I use it constantly with roast chicken, hearty stews, and roasted potatoes. Not only that, but it grows amazingly in my vertical garden. The flowers are also stunning and popular with bees. It’s also great in a gin & tonic! Remember, It doesn’t tend to grow well with other herbs so if you can, give it its own container.
2. Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris)
Like rosemary, thyme is a must when roasting meat, fish, and potatoes. It’s a versatile herb with a lovely smell and beautiful flowers in bloom. It also comes in many different varieties with different flavors. It’s a great herb to grow vertically as it is very low maintenance, lightweight, and requires very little soil. It’s also a perennial so you won’t need to replace it each year.
3. Mint (Mantha Spicata)
I had to throw mint into my top 5. It’s by far the fastest-growing herb in my vertical garden and I use it for a wide variety of dishes from salads in summer to adding to tea or boiled baby potatoes and even the odd mojito. Mint is great for a vertical garden. However, note that the roots can be invasive. So it’s best to plant mint inside its own discreet container where possible to curtail its’ ambition a little.
4. Chives (Allium Schoenoprasum)
If like me, you are a lover of onions, then Chives have to be up there on your list. I use mine constantly as a garnish for scrambled eggs (which I can’t get enough of). They taste fantastic and their striking green color looks amazing on the plate. Chives are super low maintenance, have shallow roots, and even help to repel insects that could damage other herbs. It’s a great choice for a diverse vertical herb garden. The flowers are also beautiful when allowed to bloom.
5. Lavender (Lavendula)
While I don’t actually eat lavender personally (though you can) it is one of my all-time favorite smells. For that reason alone I try and grow it wherever I can, including in my vertical garden. Lavender is a hardy woody perenially with a shallow root system that’s adaptable and drought resistant which makes it great for containers. The flowers are stunning and they smell gorgeous. I always try to add some to my vertical garden to add a splash of color in spring.
Other great herbs to grow in your vertical garden
6. Basil (Ocimium Basilicum)
Basil is a great addition to pasta dishes and grows extremely well in a vertical garden. It grows super fast and has shallow roots. It is, however, an annual which means you will need to replace it yearly. I don’t find basil easy to grow outdoors and have had much more success in my indoor smart garden.
7. Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)
The lemon balm smells incredible and makes a great addition to a versatile vertical herb garden. It doesn’t mind more shade, so planting it at the bottom of your vertical garden is fine. It can get quite big if given enough room to grow but it smells incredible.
8. Marjoram (Origanum Majorana)
Marjoram is super easy to grow and does extremely well in a vertical garden environment. Its pretty flowers are great for attracting pollinators which also makes it a great addition to an outdoor living wall. Marjoram is an annual plant so will need to be replaced each year.
9. Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)
Oregano is a versatile herb great for growing vertically. Used in both meat and fish it helps to flavor loads of different meals. It grows really well with others and even helps to protect your garden from insects.
10. Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum)
Like coriander and basil, I struggle to grow parsley outdoors but it does really well indoors. It grows extremely quickly and doesn’t mind being hacked to bits when you want to add it to your cooking. Parsley also has more vitamin C than an orange – who knew?
11. Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
Sage thrives in full sun so should be placed at the top of your vertical garden. It’s perennial so will grow back each year which makes it a great low-maintenance option. It also brings lots of pollinators to your vertical garden.
12. Dill (Anethum Graveolens)
Dill is a perfect accompaniment to fish. It likes the sun so it’s better suited to the tops of your vertical planters rather than the bottom where it might be more shaded. It’s biennial, which means it’ll grow back every other year.
14. French Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus)
French tarragon has a lot of flavors which makes it great for budding cooks to experiment with. It has shallow roots and likes well-drained soil which makes it a great choice for vertical gardens.
15. Corriander (Coriandrum Sativium)
Corriander is another great addition to any vertical garden. It’s a great addition to Mexican food and curry. However, it can be quite difficult to grow as it is quite short-lived and needs replacing often. The roots also require a little more depth than most herbs, so consider planting where you have the most room.
Key things to consider when choosing herbs for your vertical garden
While all the herbs in this list will make a great addition to any vertical garden they are not all the same and you may wish to consider carefully which to choose before planting.
Not all herbs grow well together
Some herbs prefer to be isolated from others, or grow too aggressively to be next to other plants. Make sure you identify the ones which aren’t so chummy (see my list below) and keep them away from each other if you can. It’s important to check proximity to any allelopathic plants (like barberry, sumac, or elderberry) which contain chemicals that can cause your herbs problems.
Perennials vs annuals
Not all the herbs on this list will last all year round. If you prefer a low-maintenance vertical garden where you do not need to replace and re-grow herbs each year, then I would recommend choosing planting perennials like thyme, rosemary, and sage in your vertical garden. If you don’t mind replacing and replanting, then annuals like coriander and parsley are a must as they’re great with so many dishes.
Re-visit the table at the top of this article for a full list of each.
Consider what you like to eat
You should try to pair the types of herbs you grow in your vertical garden with the type of food you like to cook and eat. If like me you’re a winter foods person (roast chicken and potatoes, soup, pie etc.) then woody perennials like rosemary and thyme are a must. However, if you are a summer food person (pasta, salads, fish) then basil, mint, dill, and lemon balm should be your go-to.
Form over function
Do you want to grow herbs to eat, or simply to look pretty? If the latter, consider which herbs have the most beautiful flowers. Some great examples are lavender, dill, rosemary, and pineapple sage which have beautiful blooms. All of the herbs on this list make great companions to many dishes, just make sure to consider the point above and pick the ones you think you’ll use the most.
Which herbs shouldn’t grow together?
Not all herbs are friends so it’s important to identify the more sensitive and the troublemakers and plan your vertical garden accordingly. As a general rule, the following herbs should be kept isolated in their own containers wherever possible:
It’s absolutely ok to plant mint together with other species of mint but they are quite invasive and can overcome smaller less aggressive herbs quickly. Keep them in their own container if you can to prevent them from spreading too much.
Basil does not like sage, so keep the two apart. I find it to be quite a gentle herb that doesn’t compete well with other more aggressive neighbors. If you can keep it isolated then do. Basil grows amazingly well on its own.
Rosemary is a bit of a loner and doesn’t grow that well when surrounded by many other herbs. If you can keep it isolated within its own container or pocket, it will love you forever. It can get quite large too and cause problems for other plants.
Some final thoughts
So there you have it. My complete guide to creating the best vertical herb garden. I’ve chosen my top five herbs based on my personal preference but all of the herbs on this list should grow well in a vertical garden. Choose what’s right for you and what you think you will enjoy the most.
Make sure you consider the needs and wants of each plant, as most are different. Especially, consider planting herbs together that need similar amounts of water and learn how often you should water your vertical garden to keep them happy.
If you’re just starting out and looking for a more complete guide to vertical gardening in general, be sure to check out my ultimate overview.