How to Start a Cocktail Herb Garden

Learn how to start a cocktail herb garden to help elevate your cocktails. You’ll love watching them grow and trying herbs in new drink recipes!

prep shot of green glass citrus juicer with fruits and herbs

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Confession: I think I might be a plant lady.

Everyone in my life has probably seen this coming, as I have brought home plant after plant, one by one, for the last couple years.

No one is more surprised than me. That’s because, when I was younger, nothing bored me more than helping my parents in the yard.

Watering in the summer? Pass. Planting bulbs? No thanks. Taking tours of people’s gardens? Unsubscribe.

But along the way something changed and my thumb turned from black to green. Every room of our house now has a plant in it. Probably at least three. (Except the windowless powder room, which has a fake one.)

I’m not allowed to get more, says my husband. (For now. We’ll see, I say.)

The Kentucky Derby is Saturday, so get out your fanciest hat and plan to make a Honey Whiskey Mint Julep to celebrate. It’s sweet, minty and ice cold for a hot day! (via

Our one exception? “Useful” plants.

Useful, in that they are plants that keep bugs away (like citronella or Venus fly traps) or plants you can eat — or make drinks with! — like veggies, fruits or herbs.

The first year in our house, I tried planting a vegetable garden full of useful plant and it was wildly unsuccessful except for a couple of tomatoes.

It was much too lofty of a goal and way too much work — I simply wasn’t ready. I couldn’t keep up with watering it. (I also don’t think I picked the right spot for it but that’s another story.)

But the one thing I could manage? Our little herb garden.

Every spring, I look forward to rounding up a menagerie of plants at the hardware store to plant in the window boxes on our porch: my cocktail herb garden.

Given that we’re keeping inside right now, I have decided to forego my usual trip to the hardware store garden center this year and instead I am starting from seeds I ordered online.

I have also started keeping a few herbs growing in our kitchen window for year-round use.

Here’s what our window looks like right now:

cocktail herb garden in a windowsill
From left to right: Green onions, my seed starting planter, and jars of thyme, mint and basil. (Up top are airplants — totally decorative and not edible.)

Since we’re all cooped up right now, I thought I’d share a little bit about how I started our cocktail herb garden with you, in case you’re looking to step up your drinks game right now.

(If you’re new to cocktail mixing, maybe start with these 3-ingredient cocktails?)

And, of course, you can absolutely cook with your herbs too! You’re not limited to just cocktails. Try this 3-ingredient pesto or this Tuscan white bean dip.

view of a greenhouse with orchids and other plants
My favorite nursery in Charlotte, Campbell’s

(Before I get into the weeds, I just want to remind you I am an amateur gardener. But if I can do it, so can you! If you have herb growing tips, please feel free to post them in the comments!)

How to start a cocktail herb garden

First, decide where you’re going to plant your garden.

If you live in a house with a semi-sunny yard or porch, you can do it outdoors. Even a fire escape or balcony will work!

But if you don’t have outdoor spaces, don’t fret. You can absolutely plant your cocktail herb garden inside! All you need is a sunny window.

Pick up plantings of your favorite herbs at your local garden center, or you can start them from seeds. (That’s what I’m doing this year, with an indoor seed starting planter box that fits in my kitchen window.)

Check out the list below for ideas on what plants to get, and what drinks you can make with them.

Don’t forget to pick up a watering can while you’re there. (I’m also a huge fan of this sprayer).

You don’t need one, per se, though they do make watering easier. Feel free to reuse a milk jug or drink pitcher if that’s all you have!

herb plants in plastic pots at a nursery

Planting a Cocktail Herb Garden Outdoors

If you have a spot outdoors, wonderful! Here are a few ways you can plant herbs outside:

  • A sunny spot of land
  • Flower pots
  • A planter box that hangs over your porch, balcony or fire escape railing.

The trick is to pick a spot — or perhaps a couple of spots — that get a decent amount of sun.

Keep in mind that some herbs prefer bright sun and others prefer to get some shade as well. For example, basil thrives in heavy summer sunlight, but mint likes it a little cooler and shadier.

Here’s an in-depth list (including some non-cocktailish herbs):

herb sunlight chart explaining which herbs grow in sunlight and shade

Planting a Cocktail Herb Garden Indoors

No outdoor garden space? No problem. An herb garden doesn’t have to grow in the ground!

There are a few options for growing your herb garden indoors:

Keep herbs alive in jars or vases

For this method: You can keep your herbs alive in a jar of water. No soil required!

You can buy those pre-cut herbs at the grocery store that come in the little plastic boxes, or you can ask a friend for cuttings from their garden.

Clip the ends of the herbs and place them into water. Mason jars and vases are great for this.

You can also plant plastic planters into the jars if you like.

Just make sure to top off the water so there is always enough to feed your herbs. Change the water out once a week (or it will turn green or brown). The herbs will eventually root so you can plant it later.

Here’s a picture of mine (and please ignore that water that I changed after taking this!) I keep mine in the kitchen window.

cocktail herb garden in a windowsill

Grow herbs in flower pots indoors

You can also plant herbs in flower pots and keep them indoors. Pick a sunny window to keep them near, and make sure to water them regularly.

Here’s a picture I found on my phone of an indoor herb garden I had a few years ago.

I kept the herbs in plastic pots (these ones come in a bunch of colors) on top of a tray to protect my kitchen counters from inevitable water spills.

indoor herb garden

What to Plant in a Cocktail Herb Garden

Fresh herbs can make any cocktail taste even better. There are so many types of herbs out there, so this is just a list to get you started.

Here’s a list of herbs you can plant in your cocktail herb garden:

  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Lemongrass
  • Lavender
  • Hyssop
  • Fennel
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon
  • Dill
  • Marjoram

Feel free to mix and match your favorite herbs based on your tastes! This is your herb garden, after all.

Pick up some pearly kumquats, cut some rosemary and combine for a totally new way to appreciate winter citrus. The Rosemary Kumquat Moscow Mule is a bright and refreshing variation on everyone's favorite drink with vodka and ginger beer. Copper mug optional, but totally encouraged. (via

Cocktails to Make with Herbs

The world is your oyster when it comes to cocktails you can make with fresh herbs. You can even use them to flavor simple syrup.

If you want to twist things up even more, go for a variation on a classic herb.

For example, instead of peppermint, try planting chocolate mint, spearmint or lemon balm. Try lime basil or Thai basil instead of the classic.

a glass of herbal limeade with green straw next to a pitcher and limes

Mocktails to Make with Herbs

Herbs provide tons of flavor so they make for a very versatile ingredient for non-alcoholic mocktails, even if it’s just a garnish.

This herbal lemonade is blended with three herbs, and it’s so so good. The green color is so vibrant.

Herbs are also wonderful in spa water, which is a naturally-flavored, infused water. It’s so refreshing, especially in this strawberry basil spa water.

But I think my favorite must be rosemary, because I love it in these recipes for Christmas spa water and winter citrus spa water.

rosemary bush growing in a yard near a house
My rosemary bush

This should be enough to get you started with planting your own cocktail herb garden!

It’s so very satisfying to have fresh herbs on hand and be able to whip up your own mint julep, sprinkle parsley over your pasta dish or even upgrade a frozen pizza with fresh basil!

Hope you enjoy every single, fragrant moment of using your herb garden! // susannah

cocktail herb garden in a windowsill
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How to Start A Cocktail Herb Garden

Learn how to start a cocktail herb garden to level up all your spring and summer beverages, like mint juleps and mojitos.
Prep Time15 minutes
Active Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Keyword: cocktail, gardening, herb garden, indoor gardening, outdoor gardening
Yield: 1 herb garden
Author: Susannah Brinkley Henry


  • watering can
  • garden gloves
  • trowel


Outdoor Garden

Indoor Garden


For outdoor herb garden

  • Fill your planter or flower pots most of the way with soil.
  • Place seeds 1-2" below the surface of the soil and cover with soil. Mist daily with water until sprouts form.
  • Gently pull at the roots of any herb plants and place them into the soil, keeping the soil even. (Add more if you need to.) Water daily or when soil gets dry.
  • Place planter in a sunny or partially sunny spot, depending on the herb.

For indoor herb garden

  • Fill mason jars or vases with lukewarm water. Add cut herbs. Top off the water daily and replace water at least once a week. (You can also place small pots with herbs into jars filled with water.)
  • Fill a flower pot with soil. Gently pull at the roots of any herb plants and place them into the soil, keeping the soil even. (Add more if you need to.) Water daily or when soil gets dry.
  • Place in a windowsill or near a window for optimal performance.

The Golden Ratio Guide:

Mix the perfect cocktail, every time

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