4 Simple Things To Help Your Plants Grow [Herb Garden Series]

Our herbs are just FLOURISHING now that they have been transplanted! I was a little worried that they wouldn’t survive the transplant shock, but they’re doing just fine.

I kept the extra seedlings growing in their seed starter pellets just in case I had to redo the transplant. That’s clearly not necessary at this point; it’s amazing to see the difference between the plants in the pellets and the plants that were transplanted!

Basil seedling in pellet vs. basil seedling in pot

Catnip seedling in pellet vs. catnip seedling in pot

Dill seedling in pellet vs. dill seedling in pot

Chamomile seedling in pellet vs. chamomile seedling in pot

Plants need four things to grow well: water, sunlight, space, and food.It’s crazy how much bigger and stronger the plants in the pots are, and this demonstrates my point perfectly! All the plants get the exact same amount of sunlight and water, but the plants in the pots are doing much better. It makes it clear just how important it is that plants have ample room to grow and good nutrients in their soil.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way regarding each of these four “key ingredients”:

  1. Water

    Watering your plants is obviously necessary to keep them alive, but there are a few tips and tricks to watering to help your plants grow better. I wrote a whole post about quick tips for watering your plants, but here are a few basics. Always check to make sure your plant needs water before watering. You can do this by sticking your finger into the dirt around the base of the stem; if it’s still wet about an inch down it’s okay, otherwise water the plant. When you water, water thoroughly until water drains out of the drainage hole. And be very careful not to overwater. Overwatering is much more harmful to a plant than letting it go thirsty for a day, so be careful when you check the moisture level in the soil.

  2. Sunlight

    Sunlight is another pretty obvious one. Basically, plants use photosynthesis to turn sunlight into food, so if they don’t get enough sun they can’t grow as well. When the plants were small I built some simple sun reflectors out of cardboard and tin foil to help them capture as much light as possible. The reflectors keep the plants from getting leggy (growing long and thin and reaching out towards the sunlight) by reflecting sun from all directions. You can also help the plants get equal sunlight everywhere by rotating the pots every day or two. This helps to keep the plants from leaning and growing sideways.

  3. Space

    The general rule about transplanting seedlings is to have one seedling per pot unless the pot is 10″ or bigger. (If you plant from seeds directly into a pot, plant a bunch of seeds but thin your seedlings down to one once they have grown.) I was worried about transplant shock so I planted two seedlings per pot (ours are 6″ pots) and they did just fine. But about two weeks after transplanting I thinned one of the seedlings so that only one was left, and it made a HUGE difference. Within the next two days I could see how much better the remaining plant was growing. So do your plants a favor and make sure they have plenty of room to grow without competing with other plants.

  4. Food

    This one is super important once your plants have sprouted and are growing. Plants can use sunlight to make their own food, but plant food or fertilizer provides extra nutrients to keep your plants healthy. If you use seed starting pellets to plant from seeds the pellets have enough nutrients to sustain your plants for a bit, but once you transplant them into a pot or your garden you need to start feeding them. If your potting soil has food mixed in you can skip feeding your plants for about the first month, but after that those nutrients will be gone and your plants will need more. If you are growing herbs or vegetables make sure to use fertilizer marked specifically for edibles (you don’t want to be eating all those nasty chemicals!) We use a fish emulsion plant food designed to be mixed in with water when you water your plants. It smells gross but the plants sure like it!

These four simple things will keep your plants growing healthy and strong! In fact, our plants are getting big enough that it’s time to start pruning them back a bit so they grow “bushier” rather than tall and skinny. Watch out for a post about that soon!

This post is part of a series about growing herbs indoors. You can see the rest of the posts in the series here.

I link up at these awesome parties!

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Heidi says

    6 years ago

    Btw it also happened to my basil. But the two rows inside the rectangular pots all sprouted. Hahaha. They are, as you said, gang busters! Any advice?

  2. Heidi says

    6 years ago

    Hi! I started my seedlings in rectangular 6x12x6 inch plastic pots. The dill sprouted only on one side and left a huge space on the other side of the pot. Should I transplant them to solo pots? There’s around 7 sprouts on one side of the rectangular pot. How should I proceed to have a healthy pot of dill herb?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      The dill should be fine as it is, even just on one side of the pot! It may look a little lopsided, but the roots will grow out and fill up all the room in soil, so it’ll be fine. You do want to thin the dill out at some point though. 7 seedlings is a lot for one pot and it’s better to have one or two big, strong seedlings rather than 7 small ones that are fighting each other for nutrients and water and sunlight. Or if you want seven dill plants, you can separate them out into their own separate pots, but if you just want one pot of dill I would thin them down to one or two in that pot that they’re already in.

      And for the basil, you can definitely re-pot those to their own pots. They are super competitive so you only want one seedling per pot, so just transplant as many as you want into new pots and thin out the rest of them!

  3. [email protected] says

    10 years ago

    Excellent tips — even experienced gardeners need to be reminded! So interesting to see the photo comparisons. Thanks so much for linking on Busy Monday at A Pinch of Joy. Hope to see you again soon.

  4. Susie @Bowdabra says

    10 years ago

    Thank you so much for linking up in our Saturday Showcase this past week! We were thrilled to have you and hope that you stop back in on Saturday and link up more crafty ideas!

    Have a super weekend!
    Susie at Bowdabra

    • Jessi says

      10 years ago

      🙁 I did not have a green thumb either for the longest time. I killed a bunch of houseplants in college, but it seems to have turned around now!

  5. The Arizona Russums says

    10 years ago

    Thanks for the tips! I am on my second attempt to grow a thriving basil plant! 🙂

  6. Patricia Purcell says

    10 years ago

    My kitchen herbs need some help. I'm going to have to spend some time reading through your suggestions. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Jessi W says

    10 years ago

    Haha that's funny that you asked about the catnip. The cats LOVE it when I bring the plant inside to water it, but it lives in between the two sets of windows so I'm not sure they can really smell it except when I have the inner window open for watering. Though…the other day I took the best picture of both of them transfixed, staring up at the catnip in the window. They both stood there for about two hours, just staring at the catnip plant. No joke! I think it was because it was blowing around in the wind a bit and they liked the movement 🙂

  8. Katie says

    10 years ago

    Wow, they're looking great! Are the cats bothering the catnip at all yet? ^_^

    I have a bunch of herb transplants that I need to plant out this week…this is a good reminder to not stick too many in the same pot, ha.

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