Vertical Herb Garden

How to prune vertical gardens

Hi Liz,

Thank you for sharing your question.

Here is what you asked:

"Should I prune my herbs now? does pruning plants in pots require a different approach?"

For the benefit of our readers: The answer refers to spring. 

That's an interesting question, but just before I answer it, I would like to tell you two things: 1. your vertical herb garden is a beauty. I love it. well done!! 2. if I may, most of my readers already know that I notice all the small but important details, so before we prune anything, lets talk about a few things I am certain will improve your vertical herb garden and even prevent potential damage. Once we cover these important issues, we'll get to pruning. 

In the email you sent me you mentioned (between the lines) that your herbs are planted inside those beautiful cans. Well, they are a beauty, but not for long. Let me explain why: in order to grow a successful garden you must be sure to maintain the number one gardening rule >>> drainage. Plants that are planted inside metal cans, with no drainage holes for the water to come out after watering, will most often have rotten roots... and if that happens, certain death is just around the corner. How to avoid this? Well, in your case it requires a little patients and very little work, which I'm sure you'll enjoy doing. So, here is what you need to do:

Vertical Herb Garden

Drainage first - Pruning second

Quick and easy guide - like a cheesecake recipe :-)

  1. Get a bag of small lava stones or clean white gravel.
  2. Gently pull the herbs from the can.
  3. Drill at least two holes a the bottom of each can, with a diameter at least the width of a pencil.
  4. Cover the bottom of each can with a one inch layer of gravel / lava stone.
  5. Replant the herbs. Make sure you have enough garden soil to add at the top. 
  6. Water the herbs, but stop as soon as you see water coming out of the bottom of the can.

Now let's prune. Scroll down for pruning guidelines.

Your about to prune and pinch in your vertical herb garden, so I have marked (see the orange colored lines) where you should prune. It would be best to do it soon after re-poting, as it will encourage the herbs to grow new leaves and roots, which is important. Whichever herb you choose to cut, please make sure you're cutting a stem which already has new leaves growing, and the cut should be made above the leaf. In other words, always cut above leaves, avoid cutting stems that are naked and have no new growth. As for the parsley - there are only two rules: 

  • Avoid cutting all the stems at once, cutting either outer or inner stems is better.
  • Avoid cutting too low, keep it at 1 - 2 inches above the soil.

And if your parsley grows flowering stems, feel free to cut them too. That's it. Your done.

I hope I was of help. Please send me follow up pictures from your vertical herb garden as soon as it recovers, or if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to write back.

Happy pruning!


Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking.