Watering Herbs: How Often to Water Your Herb Plants

Watering herbs

One of the best ways to maintain healthy plants in your herb garden is to keep the plants watered well.

There are some differences in watering needs from one herb plant variety to another, but for the most part, herbs follow standard requirements for water throughout their growth cycle.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how often to water an herb plant you’re growing. If you purchase your herb plant from a greenhouse, the plant will normally come with an instructional tag that you can use to determine if your herb plant needs different watering needs than these general instructions.

How often to water herb plants

When it comes to how often to water herb plants, the answer depends on a variety of factors. For example, is the herb planted in a pot or in the ground? Is it in direct sunlight or does it only get a partial day of direct sunlight? What has the weather been like recently? What variety of herb is it – basil, oregano, thyme, etc.?

Generally speaking, the best way to determine how often to water your herb plant is to check the top half-inch of soil for dampness. As a rule of thumb, if it’s dried out, give the herb plant some water. If it’s still damp or moist in the top half-inch, then no need to water the herb plant.

Watering herbs seedlings

When it comes to how often to water herbs seedlings, you want to make sure you give your young herb plant the water it needs for its early growth.

Sometimes herb plant seedlings are grown in bunches. These may soak up moisture faster, so keep tabs on the dampness of the soil for these seedlings.

It’s best to water them lightly more frequently than watering them a lot less frequently. Seedlings are more susceptible to “drowning” when they are overwatered. Too much water at once can also cause the plant to uproot itself, as soil washes away easier when the plant doesn’t have a solid root structure in place.

Plan on watering your herbs seedlings every few days, or even daily. Keep an eye on the surface level dryness of the soil, and give the seedlings a sprinkle if it doesn’t look moist.

Herb seedlings are faster to show it if they don’t have enough water, so if the plant is wilting and the soil is dry, not enough water is probably the problem.

Watering an established herb plant

Established herb plants should be watered when the top half-inch of soil is dry. Below are specific growing scenarios and information on how often to water the herb plant for each.

When to water herbs that are planted outside

Herb planted outside is often healthier, as there’s more chance of direct sunlight, and airflow generally helps to protect it against disease.

Plan on watering your established herb plant a few times a week when it’s planted outside. If you’re not sure whether it needs to be watered, you can check if the surface level soil is moist, or if the herb plant is wilting.

When to water herbs that are planted inside

Herb plants that are planted inside may not need as much water, as direct sunlight is normally not available. Be extra careful that you aren’t overwatering the herb plant inside.

If the herb plant is wilting, that could be a sign that it is under or over-watered. Keep track of how moist the soil is to know the difference before watering the herb plant more.

When to water herbs planted in the landscape

Herbs that are planted in the landscape are able to pull up some moisture from the ground, so they won’t need to be watered as much as herb plants are grown in a container.

You can typically determine if the plant needs water by looking at the ground surface moisture level. If it’s already wet or damp just beneath the surface, you should be good to go. Otherwise, a wilted herb plant or dry, crusty ground is a good sign that you may need to water the herb plant.

To avoid having to water your herbs as much, you can mulch around the plant with wood chips or another type of natural mulch. Be careful about getting the mulch too close to the plant’s young stem, though — the mulch will burn the plant when it heats up.

When to water herb planted in containers

As mentioned previously, herbs that are planted in a container will need to be watered more frequently since they don’t have natural water in the ground as a source of hydration.

Things to consider

There are numerous factors to consider when determining how often to water your herb plant. Factors like weather, sunlight, the season of the year, and spacing all play a role.


Spring weather is generally rainier in some areas, so you may not need to water your herb plant as much. Be careful that you don’t overwater your herb plant in a season with a lot of rain.

Sunlight exposure

Most herb plant varieties grow great in full sunlight, but in the heat of the summer, you’ll need to keep these plants watered well. 

Herb plants that are grown in full sun will dry out fast, especially if they are getting direct sunlight during the noon of the day.

Keeping the herb plant well watered in these seasons ensures that they’ll be able to produce healthy new shoots of fresh herbs in the future.


Depending on the season, you may not need to water your herb plant as much. In the fall, when the herb plant is more established and the cooler weather sets in, you may only need to water the herb plant once a week.


Herb plants that are planted close together will compete for the same water, and as a result, you’ll need to water them more.

Tips for watering your herb plant

Here are some tips for watering your herb plants.

Your herb plant may wilt with too much water or too little

Keep in mind that a herb plant that is wilting does not necessarily always need water. Sometimes herb plants wilt when they have too much water.

Always check the soil dryness to determine if you should give the herb plant some water.

It may not be a watering problem, but a fertilizing problem

If the plant is wilting or looking yellow, it may not be your watering that is the problem. You may want to check the fertilizer level of the soil it’s planted in to see if that’s the problem.

Make sure your pot has adequate draining

If you are planting your herbs in a pot, it’s very important that the pot has proper drainage. Herbs are susceptible to root rot if water does not drain through the soil, so well-drained soil is essential.


If the herb plant needs to be watered a lot, you may want to re-pot the plant so that it has more soil to spread its roots in.

Watering your herb plant recap

In conclusion, there are many factors that will affect how often you’ll need to water your herb plant. The best and most simple thing to do is check the moisture level in the top half-inch of soil to determine if it needs some water.