How To Maintain Living Herbs

How To Maintain Living Herbs | Get Inspired Everyday!

I’ve put together all my tips and tricks in this Guide for How To Maintain Living Herbs for months at a time!

How To Maintain Living Herbs | Get Inspired Everyday!

I started buying living herbs from the grocery store about a year ago. They’re a great way to have more fresh herbs available without so much waste. It seems every time I buy a package of basil, it turns brown within a couple of days, (maybe it’s because we live up north and our produce isn’t always the freshest – who knows).

So… I started my living herb collection with basil being the star of course, and we love having it around. Just last week, I used it for Saucy Italian Baked Eggs and Fresh Vietnamese Salad Bowls. Living basil costs $4.98 for 1 bunch here versus $1.98 for a package of cut basil. It ends up being way cheaper in the long run to buy the living herbs because they last for 6-8 weeks for me.

There’s a few key points when it comes to how to maintain living herbs:

  1. Don’t fill the water level too high in your container. You only want to cover the roots, if you submerge the stems they will rot and the plant will die. I water my plant every 2-3 days depending on how much sun we get.
  2. I’ve found that quart mason jars make the best containers for keeping your living herbs alive. The living herbs available where I live always come with fairly long stems. This makes them kind of floppy if left to their own devices. The quart mason jars are just tall enough that they provide some stability to hold up my plants.
  3. Try not to pick too many leaves at one time! I’ve tapped out several plants with my over neediness (especially the basil). Living herbs grow slower here than my garden herbs do in the summertime, so it’s best to let them recuperate for a few days in between pickings.
  4. Sun for a few hours a day is great, but sun all day everyday will bleach out your leaves. They’ll still taste fine but they might look a bit different than usual.
  5. When harvesting you herbs, you always want to trim back to where there are two new leaves starting. This helps the plant branch out and grow bigger. If you cut back too far the plant won’t regrow itself. And should any flowers appear, definitely pinch them off. If a plant flowers and goes to seed, it will stop producing (this actually applies to all plants). Also, to keep your plants producing be sure to trim any dead parts of the plant back. A few stems die every time I get a new plant. I just trim them back to keep them from getting slimy and ruining the healthy stems.
  6. There will come a time where your herbs are going to be tapped out. After all, you’re just keeping them in water. If it’s been over a month, your plant is looking pale, and it’s no longer producing much – it’s time to purchase another plant.
  7. When you’re buying plant’s from the grocery store, diligently guard them from being smashed by your other groceries. Living herbs are fairly fragile, so I always carry mine out of the store, and never let them put your herbs in with the other groceries at the checkout. This is key for how to maintain living herbs because if they come home damaged, you’re more likely to loose them!
  8. You can actually plant your living herbs in potting soil if you like. My mom always brings in some basil indoors from her garden in the fall. When that plant runs out, she purchases living herbs from the store and puts them in pots to get her by until spring comes again. I prefer to keep mine in water in the mason jars because they are the perfect size to sit on my windowsill.

I’m not sure how many mason jars full of herbs I can fit on my sunniest window sill. But I’m sure trying to add to the collection. This winter I’ve had basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage. And I’m hoping to add mint this week if it’s back in stock.

What’s your favorite fresh herb?

12 Comments on “How To Maintain Living Herbs”

  1. Kari

    How often do you change the water in your mason jar? And when I buy basil at the store it is in dirt, do I rinse the dirt off and stick it in a jar?

    1. Kari

      I don’t change the water, I just wait for it to absorb and then add more. I like to switch out the mason jar every week or so to keep it from getting yucky though. I’m not sure if you should rinse off the dirt as it sounds like you might get a different kind of live herb than I do. Mine comes in a root ball that has a sandy kind of dirt that is mostly roots, I just stick that straight into the mason jar. I hope this helps and be sure to let me know if you have any more questions!

    1. Kari

      Living herbs do best with indirect sunlight, so near any of your windows that have the most hours of daylight would be my suggestion. I hope this helps and be sure and let me know if you have any more questions!

  2. Kari

    Couldn’t u put some water soluble fertilizer (miracle gro )in the water to feed them and just use cuttings to cook from – leaving stem and some leaves with roots always in water? What other herbs besides basil and mint will grow in water ? Thanks

    1. Kari

      Yes you can definitely use a water soluble fertilizer of your choice and the plants will last much longer, but eventually it wont’ be the same since they’re not planted in soil. We only have basil and mint available in live herb form here so I’m not sure what else would work well, although I have had watercress before for a few weeks which was nice to add to salads even if it’s more of a green than an herb.

  3. Kari

    Is it possible to keep them alive with some dirt? I got rosemary and sage just put them in a couple glass cups with water but I want them to stay alive,. YouTube is kind of a pain in the butt I couldn’t find anything on there about the subject

    1. Kari

      Yes you can definitely plant your living herbs in dirt, they will last indefinitely that way given the right growing conditions. I would use and Organic potting soil, and try to find and Organic fertilizer to apply according to the package directions. Rosemary can be finicky and it doesn’t like drastic changes to it’s environment. But once it’s established, it will grow well indoors. I don’t have as much experience with bringing sage in as I have a large perennial plant in my herb garden that comes back year after year. I would think it should make it at least 2 years before it might become too big, (sage turns into a bush over time). I hope this helps, and be sure to let me know if you have anymore questions!

  4. Kari

    I just got my mint “living Herbs’ I am so afraid of it dying. I have never had a plant before. I just put it in a little pot with some water, I’m glad that i don’t have too add dirt.

    Any other tips you have would be amazing!!!!

    1. Kari

      The only thing I can think of, is to always be sure not to cover the stems when you add water to your living herbs. When water touches the stems, it will cause the stems to rot and die over time. Living herbs won’t live forever just in water, but mine stick around for 1-4 months depending on how much I pick from them. At some point they will run out of nutrients to grow, and that’s when I start over, or plant them outside if it’s warm enough. This post is about maintaining them for as long as possible to have fresh herbs around for a while without having to buy them weekly from the store. I hope this helps, and be sure to let me know if you have anymore questions!

  5. Kari

    Oh, thank you! I’ve needed some tips. I’ve been trying to grow my own fresh herbs all winter. But I started as seedlings, so it’s taken a long time. I can’t wait for the fresh cilantro, however!

    1. Kari

      If you’re growing them in dirt, (rather than keeping them alive in a jar of water) you’ll want to find an organic fertilizer to help them produce more. Also, as much light as possible is great with most of the herbs – especially in the winter when it can be a month of cloudy days at a time!

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