Planting in a pickle jar

A few weeks ago, as I was searching through the extra pots down in our crawl space, I came across two stoneware pickling crocks that must have come from the collection of pottery that came into our possession when my in-laws sold their house and 10-acre farm. I’m always on the lookout for interesting containers to use for flower pots, so I instantly wondered why I had stored these in the crawl space instead of using them in the garden. I lugged them out of the crawl space and placed them on the back deck, so that I wouldn’t forget them when it came time to pot up this season’s tropicals and annuals.

Today, I got around to thinking about these two pickling urns and what I wanted to plant in them. I’d never grown herbs in pots before, and an herb garden in a pickling urn seemed poetically appropriate. After drilling drainage holes in each container with a cement bit, I went out this afternoon in search of herbs.

I first stopped at one of the many chain box stores in our town, hoping to find some inexpensive herbs. All I found was a limited and sad collection of plants, stressed to near death by the abnormally high temperatures we’ve had this week. If the manager of the store’s garden center wasn’t careful, he or she is going to have a great deal of lost inventory. After this quick, disappointing stop, I decided to cut to the chase and head to Country Arbors Nursery a local wholesale and retail grower located a mile or so to the west.

One of the Country Arbors employees greeted me as I walked in from the parking lot and directed me to greenhouse #1 where the herbs and vegetables are housed. The herb selection was rather limited, but the plants they had were extremely attractive and healthy. I selected a summer thyme (Thymus sp.) and sage (Salvia sp.), but knew that I wasn’t going to create two herb containers with the selection at Country Arbors. It was already late in the day, so I decided to improvise and select some flowers and foliage plants that would complement my herb selections.

After roaming the greenhouses for a good 20-30 minutes, I settled on the plants that I could combine in the two pickle jars.

Perilla ‘Magilla Purple’


Gazania ‘Big Kiss Yellow Flame’


Celosia ‘Flamingo Feather’


Salvia sp. (Sage)


Tagetes erecta ‘Taishan Orange’ (African Marigold)


Pentas lanceolata ‘Northern Light Lavender’


Thymus sp. (Summer Thyme)
I combined the Celosia, Gazania, and Perilla with the sage in the larger of the two urns, and threw in an extra Petunia for good measure.



In the smaller urn, I planted the marigold, Pentas and thyme along with another spare Petunia.

While no container looks wonderful immediately after planting, I have hope that these former pickle crocks will add beauty and character to our patio and deck garden for many summers to come.

Published by Christopher Tidrick

Be real. Love always. Share beauty. Lead well. Learn more.

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