How to Bottom Water Herbs?

Growing herbs is a fun and rewarding process. You will have fresh, delicious herbs to add to salads and food, and it can give you a great sense of accomplishment. However, as with all plants, watering herbs can be a somewhat tricky affair. We have researched the best way to water herbs and found that most gardeners recommend bottom watering for herbs. So, how do you bottom water herbs?

To bottom water herbs, ensure that their pots have at least one drainage hole. Then, place the herbs in a sink or container with water. Allow the soil to soak up the water. When the topsoil is moist, remove the herbs from the water and allow them to drain. The herbs are watered and ready to grow. 

Sounds easy, right? Well, yes and no. Bottom watering isn’t a complicated process. However, you must know when to bottom water herbs and exactly how to do so. Not all herbs have the same water requirements, and the soil they’re grown in also influences their watering needs. Therefore, we have asked gardening experts and explain precisely how and why to bottom water herbs in this article. 

Why and When to Bottom Water Herbs

Before we explain the steps for bottom watering herbs, there are a few things we must first review. First, why is bottom watering preferred to top watering for herbs?

Why Is Bottom Watering Preferred to Top Watering for Herbs?

  • Bottom watering helps ensure your herbs receive the right amount of water without being overwatered or underwatered. This is important, as over and under watering are the most common reasons for herbs dying. 
  • When bottom watering, you also avoid splashing water on the herbs’ leaves and stems. Some herbs, like basil, are sensitive to this and can start to rot or produce spots on their leaves if water is splashed on them. 
  • Bottom watering also encourages strong root growth, as the roots of your herbs are constantly growing down towards the water. 

These are the main advantages of bottom watering herbs. However, you might also be wondering when to bottom water herbs.

When to Bottom Water Herbs?

While a watering schedule is convenient for us to remember to water our plants, it isn’t the best method to determine when to water herbs. Temperature, soil type, and growing phase contribute to how often your herbs need watering. Therefore, monitoring the condition of your herbs is a far better way to determine when they need watering.

If there is dry soil an inch or more below the surface (you know this by sticking your finger in the soil), it’s time to water your plants. This is another advantage of bottom watering, as it ensures the soil is evenly saturated throughout and dries out evenly as well. 

How to Bottom Water Herbs

So, now that you know why and when to bottom water herbs, we can move on to the question you’re here for – how to bottom water herbs. 

Step 1: Determine Which Herbs Need Watering

As we’ve said, different herbs have different watering requirements. Therefore, don’t assume all your herbs need to be watered at the same time. Instead, check each herb’s soil to see which ones need to be watered. After gathering the herbs, you wish to water, remove them from their decorative pots if they’re kept in their original growing pots inside. 

If the herbs have been replanted, ensure the pot has at least one drainage hole, or bottom watering is impossible. Herbs in pots without drainage holes, along with ones grown in heavy pots, can be top watered as usual. 

Step 2: Prepare the Watering Station

Depending on how many herbs need to be watered, you can water them in a sink, bathtub, or a separate bowl. Don’t overcrowd your herbs when bottom watering them, so instead, use a bigger container. 

Fill the container with water. Tap water usually contains harsh chemicals, such as chlorine. These chemicals aren’t the best for your herbs. If you have access to rainwater, it’s best to use this for watering herbs. 

Alternatively, you can reuse the water you boiled vegetables in, as long as you didn’t add salt to the water. Some herbs require lukewarm water as they are sensitive to cold. Be sure to research your herbs’ specific requirements. 

Fill the container with enough water for all the herbs to receive sufficient watering. If there are stones in the bottom of the pots for better drainage, the water level must be above the stones to allow the soil to absorb it. 

Add liquid fertilizer to the water if you want to feed the herbs. The roots will absorb the fertilizer along with the water. 

Step 3: Place the Herbs in the Water

When the water is ready, you can place the herbs in the container. But, again, don’t overcrowd the herbs as this might cause damage to their leaves and stems and might also lead to underwatering. 

Herbs kept in their growing pots might topple over as their pots are incredibly light. To avoid this, add a bit of water to the topsoil to make the pot heavier. In addition, add less water to the basin to ensure the pot doesn’t float and topple over. 

Ensure the herbs are all secure and placed upright in the container. Then, leave them to absorb the water until the topsoil is moist. Depending on the type of herb and the soil, this can take between five and twenty minutes, or even longer. Remove the plants from the water as soon as the topsoil is moist to prevent overwatering. 

Step 4: Give the Herbs Time to Drain

Once the soil is fully saturated with water, remove the herbs from the container, pull the plug in the sink or bathtub, and give the herbs about ten to fifteen minutes to drain. This will allow them to drain any stagnant water and prevent root rot.

Remember that the type of soil and herbs might result in the topsoil not becoming moist. In this case, stick your finger in the soil and feel if the soil below the surface is damp. If it is, remove the herbs from the water and allow them to drain. 

When the herbs have finished draining, place them back on their spots and watch them flourish! Monitor your herbs regularly to see when they next require watering. Remember that the frequency you need to water your herbs might change depending on the temperature and growing phase of the herbs. 

Should You Only Bottom Water Herbs?

While bottom watering is undoubtedly beneficial for herbs, it does result in a buildup of harsh minerals in the soil. When you top water herbs, the minerals are flushed out of the soil as the water drains. 

Therefore, most gardeners recommend using a combination of bottom and top watering to ensure your herbs and soil are healthy. For example, try bottom watering the herbs three times and top watering them on the fourth watering time. Doing so will flush the minerals from the soil and promote the best soil conditions for growing herbs.

Overall, experimenting with different watering times and combinations is the best way to determine what your herbs work best with. Take notes and observe how the herbs react after watering, and adjust the method as required.  


Bottom watering herbs is a great way to ensure even soil saturation and prevent over or under-watering. The general idea is to place the herbs in a basin with water and allow the soil to absorb the water. Then, when the topsoil is wet, drain the herbs and leave them until they require the next watering. 

Different herbs have different watering requirements, so be sure to check the condition of each plant before and after watering to determine the best method.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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