DIY on the Fly: Mason Jar Herb Garden Planters in 6 Steps

Mason Jar Herb Garden

A Mason jar isn’t just retro-chic, it’s also extremely affordable and functional. We turn some into herb planters. Ooh la la!

If you haven’t gotten on the Mason jar train just yet, let me be the first to strongly urge you to do this. They make life so much easier. In the kitchen, I store all my bulk grains, nuts, seeds, beans and flours in them. They’re easy to store (we have great pull out shelves) and there’s no guessing what’s inside (I learned the hard way: mark your flours).

We also use these in the fridge instead of yucky plastic to store leftovers, homemade nut milks, and juices. They store well in there, too, and unlike plastic containers, I can easily see through the glass to know what we have to eat, instead of opening a plasticy rotten mess too late.

Mason jars have other uses around the house, although I keep any new acquisitions in the kitchen rotation—seems we can’t get enough!—but they can be storage savers for nails and screws, buttons, odds and ends. If I were a candle person (but I’m not), I’d make my own Mason jar candles. I have made lotions right in Mason jars before, and that’s quite fun, too (next tutorial?).

What I haven’t done, yet, but am willfully relinquishing some of my kitchen stash to do ASAP, is make Mason jar herb garden planters. Sounds easy enough, right?

My partner has the green thumb in our house, but even I know that plants need drainage. So, I was a bit confused about how a sealed glass jar would be a suitable environment for plants, especially yummy ones I plan on eating. But a little Googling and I learned a thing or two. Most experts recommend doing the following in crafting Mason jar planters:

  1. Start with clean Mason jars. Soap and water should do fine. You can vinegar rinse them too for an extra clean.
  2. Use small rocks or marbles for drainage (aha!). Place these in the bottom of the jar. For a standard quart-sized jar, fill about 2 inches of rocks or marbles at the bottom.
  3. The website Homegrown and Healthy recommends adding about ½ inch layer of activated charcoal next, which will prevent mold from contaminating your garden (a risk when there’s no drainage).
  4. Next, add your soil. A rich, organic soil is best. Add a little compost as well and more soil. Leave about an inch from the soil line to the top of the jar (about where the jar neck starts), and do not pack the soil. Leave it loose.
  5. Finally, add your herbs. Whether you do this with seeds (follow the seed packet instructions) or starter plants is up to you. Choose herbs that will do well with the light you have. Recommendations for kitchens include basil, mint, cilantro or parsley.
  6. Water lightly. You’ve got very limited drainage, so your soil will stay moist.

For the super crafty, the next step is to build a stylish repurposed Mason jar planter holder. If you’ve got a lot of wall space, this can be quite the way to transform a well-lit room. This can be done with old pieces of wood or metal, an empty drawer, just to name a few ideas. Check out this fun wall planter tutorial from Not Just a  Housewife.

Happy growing!

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image used with permission by  JessIsMore

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.