Create a Stunning Herb Planter: Step-by-Step Two-Tier Design

This is my second year planting the tiered herb planter and it gets more fun each time! This planter is perfect for small spaces and adds a pretty touch to any patio or garden area.

There’s something really satisfying about growing your own herbs. You get to enjoy fresh flavors in your cooking, save money on store-bought herbs, and it’s just plain enjoyable to watch them grow. Plus, stepping outside to snip some fresh basil or mint for a recipe feels pretty great.

A top view of a herb planter that has two tiers.

The two-tiered herb planter I use is actually quite spacious. It’s made up of two large, round clay pots – a bigger one on the bottom and a smaller one that sits on top of it. This setup gives you plenty of room to plant a variety of herbs and even some annual flowers for color. It’s like having a mini herb garden that doesn’t take up too much space in your yard or on your patio.

I’ve found this planter to be really practical for outdoor spaces. It gives you lots of planting area without needing a huge garden plot. And honestly, it looks pretty nice too. If you’re thinking about starting your own herb garden, or if you want to try a new way of growing herbs, this might be just the thing. I’ll share what I’ve learned about setting up and caring for this two-tiered planter. It’s been a fun project, and I think you might enjoy it too.

A two tiered planter consisting of two clay pots stacked.

Choosing the Right Pots for Your Tiered Herb Planter

Material Matters

When it comes to picking out pots for this project, you’ve got a couple of good options. I’ve found that clay or ceramic pots work really well. They’re sturdy, look great, and help regulate soil moisture.

Style and Shape

For this tiered planter, I recommend using the same style of pot for both tiers. It just looks more put-together that way. I’ve had the best luck with bowl-style pots that are wider than they are tall. These shallow pots are perfect for herbs, giving their roots enough space without being too deep.

Sizing It Right

Size-wise, you’ll want to make sure your bottom pot is big enough to comfortably fit the smaller pot with plenty of room around the edges. I aim for at least 4 inches of space all the way around the smaller pot. This gives you enough room to plant 4-inch herb plants or small annual flowers in the lower tier.

Don’t Forget Drainage

One super important thing to remember: drainage holes! Both pots need good drainage holes in the bottom. Without these, your herbs could end up sitting in waterlogged soil, and trust me, they won’t be happy about that. If you fall in love with a pot that doesn’t have drainage holes, you can usually drill some yourself, but it’s easier to just start with pots that already have them.

Aesthetics Count

As for looks, there are tons of beautiful clay and ceramic pots out there. You can go for something simple and rustic, or pick pots with patterns or glazes if that’s more your style. The great thing about using matching pots is that it’ll look good pretty much anywhere, whether that’s on your patio, in a corner of your yard, or as a focal point in your garden.

Remember, the pots you choose set the foundation for your herb garden, so take your time picking ones that work for you. The right pots will make your plants happy and look great in your space.

Best Soil Types for Herb Gardens

For your herb planter, go for a high-quality potting mix. Look for one that’s lightweight and designed for containers. I prefer mixes that include perlite or vermiculite – these help with drainage and aeration.

Importance of Good Drainage and Nutrient Retention

Your soil needs to strike a balance between draining well and holding onto nutrients. A good potting mix will:

  • Allow excess water to drain quickly
  • Retain enough moisture for your herbs
  • Hold onto nutrients so your plants can access them over time

Avoid using garden soil in your planter. It’s too heavy and can become compacted, which isn’t great for your herbs’ roots.

Pro Tip: Consider adding a handful of compost to your potting mix. It’ll give your herbs an extra nutrient boost to get them off to a strong start.

A clay pot with soil and a shovel.

Constructing the Two-Tiered Planter

For most setups, you can simply place the smaller pot on top of the flattened soil in the bottom pot. It’s straightforward and works well with shallow, bowl-style pots.

If you’re using taller pots, you might need to partially bury the bottom of the top pot in the soil of the larger pot. This helps with stability and gives you more planting depth in the lower tier.

Whichever method you use, make sure to position the top pot so it sits evenly in the middle and is level. This ensures your planter looks balanced and drains properly.

Planting Your Two-Tiered Herb Planter

Now that you’ve got your pots set up, it’s time for the fun part – planting! Let’s talk about choosing your plants and how to arrange them for the best look and growth.

Choosing Herbs and Flowers

When it comes to picking plants for your tiered planter, you want to think about both what you’ll use in the kitchen and what will look great. Here are some ideas:

For herbs, you can’t go wrong with classics like basil, thyme, rosemary, lavender, oregano, and mint. I especially love using cascading herbs like thyme – they look amazing spilling over the edges of the pots. Try to choose herbs with smaller, dainty leaves. They tend to look better in this type of planter than herbs with large leaves.

Don’t forget to add some flowers for color! I like to mix in small annual flowering plants. Last year, I used pansies, and this year I’m trying lobelia. They add a nice pop of color among the green herbs.

A collection of small herb plants and pansies.

Herbs Perfect for Your Two-Tiered Planter

HerbGrowth Habit
Creeping RosemaryCascading
Compact LavenderMounding
Compact BasilMounding
Compact SageMounding
Lemon BalmMounding
Compact DillUpright
Compact FennelUpright
Corsican MintLow-growing
Garlic ChivesUpright
Dwarf Curry PlantMounding
Compact RosemaryUpright

Planting Techniques

When you’re ready to plant, start with the bottom tier. I like to put taller plants towards the back and let cascading herbs hang over the edges. Mix up your herbs and flowers for a varied look.

For the top tier, use a similar planting pattern. You might want to put a slightly taller plant in the center as a focal point.

Here’s a tip: repeat some of the plants for a cohesive look. For example, you might put three lobelias and two thyme plants, positioned on opposite sides of the planter.

Now, here’s the secret to getting that lush, full look: ignore the suggested planting spacing on the labels. For this planter, you want to cram the plants in pretty tightly. It might seem like too much at first, but trust me, it’ll look great. Just remember to prune and harvest regularly as the plants grow. This will keep them healthy and prevent overcrowding.

A photo of the full two tiered planter with all the herbs and annuals planted in it.

How to Create a Two-Tiered Herb Planter

Materials Needed:

  • 2 round clay or ceramic pots (one larger, one smaller – I used at 14″ diameter for the bottom and a 9″ for the smaller one)
  • High-quality potting mix
  • Assorted herb plants
  • Annual flowers (optional)


  1. Choose Your Pots

    Select two round, shallow pots of the same style. The larger pot should be wide enough to accommodate the smaller pot plus at least 4 inches of space around it.

  2. Prepare for Drainage

    Ensure both pots have drainage holes. Place a layer of small rocks or pottery shards in the bottom of each pot to improve drainage.

  3. Fill the Bottom Pot

    Add potting mix to the larger pot, filling it about 2/3 full. Flatten and lightly compact the soil.

  4. Fill the Top Pot

    Add potting mix to the smaller pot, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

  5. Position the Top Pot

    Place the smaller pot in the center of the larger pot, on top of the soil. Make sure it’s level and stable.

  6. Add More Soil

    Fill in around the smaller pot with more potting mix. The soil level should be about an inch below the rim of the larger pot.

  7. Plant the Bottom Tier

    Plant the Bottom Tier Start planting herbs and flowers around the edge of the larger pot. Place taller plants towards the back and cascading herbs near the edges.

  8. Plant the Top Tier

    Add plants to the top pot, following a similar pattern to the bottom tier.

  9. Plant the Top Tier

    Add plants to the top pot, following a similar pattern to the bottom tier.

  10. Final Touches

    Once all plants are in place, add a bit more soil if needed to cover any exposed roots. Water thoroughly.

  11. Maintenance

    Place your planter in a sunny spot. Water regularly, and don’t forget to harvest and prune your herbs to encourage bushy growth.

Remember, the key to a lush look is to plant more densely than you normally would. With regular care, your two-tiered herb planter will provide fresh herbs and beauty all season long!

A close up of thyme and lobelia.

Care and Maintenance of your Herb Planter

Sunlight Requirements

Finding the right sunny spot: Your herb planter will thrive in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. South-facing locations are often ideal. If you’re placing it on a patio or deck, make sure it’s not shaded by overhangs or nearby structures.

Managing light conditions: If full sun isn’t available, many herbs can adapt to partial shade. However, you might notice slower growth or less intense flavors. Rotate your planter occasionally to ensure all sides get equal light exposure.

Watering Needs

Proper watering techniques: Water your herbs when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Water deeply, allowing it to drain through the bottom. It’s best to water in the morning, giving leaves time to dry before evening to prevent fungal issues.

Avoiding overwatering: Overwatering is a common mistake. Always check the soil moisture before watering. If in doubt, it’s better to underwater slightly than to overwater. Good drainage is crucial, so make sure those drainage holes aren’t blocked.

Fertilizing and Pruning

Fertilizing: Feed your herbs with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Use half the recommended strength to avoid overly leafy growth that can reduce flavor intensity.

Pruning: Regular pruning encourages bushier growth and prevents flowering, which can change the herb’s flavor. Pinch off the top sets of leaves regularly, and harvest from the outside of the plant inward.

Seasonal Care Instructions

Spring: Start with fresh potting soil and new plants. Begin fertilizing as growth picks up.

Summer: Water more frequently during hot spells. Harvest regularly to encourage continued growth.

Fall: Reduce watering and stop fertilizing as growth slows. Bring tender herbs indoors if frost threatens.

Winter: For outdoor planters, protect roots from freezing by wrapping the container or moving it to a sheltered spot. For indoor herbs, provide extra light and reduce watering.

Remember, each herb might have slightly different care needs, so it’s worth researching the specific requirements of the varieties you’re growing. With proper care, your tiered herb planter will provide you with fresh herbs and beauty throughout the seasons!

A top view of the herb planter.

Frequently Asked Questions about this Herb Planter

What’s the best way to arrange different types of herbs in my two-tiered planter?

For the best arrangement, place taller herbs like basil plants towards the back sections of each tier. Put smaller plants and trailing herbs like thyme near the outer edge. This creates a beautiful, layered look and ensures all plants get enough sun.

How much sun does my outdoor herb planter need?

Most herbs thrive with 6-8 hours of sun daily. Place your planter in a sunny outdoor space that receives plenty of direct sunlight. If you’re using it as an indoor herb planter, a kitchen windowsill that gets lots of natural light can be a great place.

How often should I water my herb pot in its first year?

In the first year, while your herbs are establishing, make sure they get enough water without overwatering. Check the soil daily – when the top inch feels dry, it’s time to water. The best way to water is deeply but less frequently, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

A photo of this original two tiered planter with herbs and pansies.

While harvesting from your herb planter, try these herb-forward recipes:

Creating a two-tiered herb planter is a fun and rewarding project that brings fresh flavors right to your fingertips. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this compact garden is a great way to grow your favorite herbs in small spaces. With the right care, your herb planter will thrive, providing you with aromatic herbs for cooking and a beautiful addition to your outdoor or indoor living space.

Happy planting!

my signature which is a drawing of me sitting.

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