Soil for herbs

The ideal soil for herbs – 3 basic tips


Herbs grow extremely well on a balcony. However, these plants also have a number of requirements. They need a good herb substrate for the lavender, thyme, rosemary etc. to thrive. We'll advise you on how to do this.

1. Taking the habitat demands into account

The natural habitat of the herbs will indicate the type of soil the plants prefer. Each plant tolerates specific site conditions to a greater or lesser degree. You should go by the following:

  • The lighting conditions. Does the herb like a shady, semi-shady or sunny spot?
  • The soil conditions. Possible compositions are sandy, permeable, compact etc.
  • Nutrient requirements. Does the plant belong to the weak, strong, or moderate feeder variety?
  • Water consumption. How often should you water the plant?

The range of tolerance can vary depending on the plant and initial conditions. Lavender is extremely tolerant in terms of water consumption.
The aromatic plant can survive drought quite well and also does not require many nutrients, as this is what it's used to in its Mediterranean homeland. As regards light conditions, lavender is somewhat special. It requires an area that gets full sunshine in order to thrive. The natural growing conditions make it clear that the herb prefers sandy and barren soil, because the water flows away faster, which is good for lavender.
But this is not true for wild garlic. This prefers a shady, moist spot and needs plenty of nutrients. Sandy soil would be the wrong choice here because it stores hardly any water and nutrients. Herb substrate rich in humus and nutrients is more suitable.

2. Should I mix the herb substrate myself or buy it ready-made?

Definitely mix it yourself! Shop-bought herb substrates aren't bad, but contain a lot of peat, compost or bark humus. The materials store water very well, but this is not good for all plants. See the example of lavender. But oregano and rosemary also only require a little water. Tip: you can modify your bought herb substrate by adding minerals to it. Or spring into action yourself. You only need a few ingredients to make your own herb substrate:

  • Garden soil
  • Compost
  • Lava sand or quartz sand

The advantage is that you make the soil to suit the herb. For Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, which prefer a dry and porous substrate, only a very small amount of compost should be mixed in, about 15%. For herbs requiring a lot of water, you can by all means add more.

3. Should I use a herbal fertiliser?

Plants with high nutrient requirements need a good herbal fertiliser. Using an organic fertiliser will improve the soil condition. Mineral fertilisers only supply the nutrients. Use this only if the herb requires an urgent energy boost. Regular use of the mineral alternative frequently leads to an oversupply of the nutrient salts, which will do your plant more harm than good.

Soil for herbs