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  • Writer's pictureJanice Gill

How to Grow Herbs - Rescuing Supermarket Herb Pots

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

basil in a herb pot showing lush green leaves and plenty of new growth.
Herb pot of Basil - looks great but it's destined to die.

Have you tried growing the fresh herbs sold in pots in the supermarket?

Do you find they die really quickly?

Do you end up buying fresh-cut herbs because it works out cheaper?

Do you think you can't grow anything because you always kill them?

I'm here to tell you those pots are destined to die fast. It's not you; it's how they are grown.

The good news is you can keep them growing with one simple gardener's trick. Not only will the plants thrive, but you'll have many more plants.

Read on to find out how to perform this little miracle.

Choosing your Pot of Herbs

It may be tempting when choosing a pot of herbs to choose the tallest or the one with the most volume of leaves. For this tasty trick, the shorter, sturdier plants are the best bet. Make sure that the leaves aren't wilting or changing colour and that the stems are not soft and floppy. Choose the pot where the stems are evenly spread in the pot, not all bunched up together.

Pot of basil showing sturdy stems and fresh green leaves
Basil with nice fresh green leaves and self-supporting stems

Dividing to Conquer

The root ball is gently being teased apart by inserting thumbs where there are fewer stems.

The first step in rescuing your plant is to divide it up. If you've never divided plants before, I suggest dividing your pot into four.

Dividing is easiest if the compost is wet, so stand your pot in a bucket of water for half an hour before you start.

Root ball divided into four by separating where there are fewer stems again

Tease the roots apart as gently as you can, creating four separate bundles of roots with attached stems. Plant each of these bundles in separate pots with fresh compost. Water well.

At this stage, I keep two plants on my windowsill and two outside from June onwards. Just in case.

Recovery Care

For the next couple of weeks, keep your plants in a bright location out of direct sunlight while they spread their roots. Keep them watered but not too wet. If you want to use some of your basil, pinch out the tips. This will encourage the plants to bush out a little.

Keeping Plants Healthy

Your plants should grow away nicely, and you'll soon have plenty of leaves. Use them from the bottom up, cutting them off close to the stem with scissors. After six weeks, they'll have used up the food in the compost, so you'll need to feed them with fertiliser.

Some herbs are annuals and will die at the end of the season. These include Parsley and Basil. Some are perennials, and with care, can be kept for years. These include Mint and Thyme.

If you think you can't grow anything because you kill these herb pots, why not give this a go? Any questions can be left in the comments.

Good Luck.

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I had no idea. In my life I have killed pretty much every plant that I got, among them - absolutely no pun intended - a lucky bamboo and several basil. Not sure I'm up to dividing and repotting, but good to know that's what I would have to do. Thank you so much for this educational post!



Janice, thank you so much for the guidance! I love to buy basil now and then, and make pesto frequently. Fresh herbs add so much flavor!



Some really great ideas. I love having fresh herbs readily available for cooking. It's so nice to snip a little off and add it to the food immediately. It's super tasty and a very happy experience.

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