You’ve likely seen potted herbs while you browse the aisles at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot. Now, home improvement stores aren’t exactly nurseries, so you might not be thinking about basil and thyme while looking at paint chips or shopping for power tools. But maybe you should be.
People have become all kinds of thrifty while staying at home—have you tried to regrow a head of lettuce yet?—and tending to herbs taps into that DIY spirit.
Here are four things you should know before buying potted herbs at a big-box store or grocery store:
1. You might need to repot them.
What might look like one big plant could be multiple smaller plants upon closer inspection. In order for the herbs to grow properly, you’ll either need to repot them in a larger container or separate the individual plants and pot them in their own small containers. To help, we rounded up the best indoor herb garden planters for you.
2. You have to water them right away.
The garden centers at big-box stores don’t often give plants TLC. You don’t want your herbs to dry out, so water them as soon as you bring them home, especially if it’s a hot day. The top 1″ of soil should be moist.
3. There’s a difference between annuals and perennials.
Just like flowers, some herbs keep coming back year after year while others don’t. Your mint, rosemary, sage and thyme will keep growing if you prune them back, while annuals like cilantro and basil will flower and go to seed.
4. You have to use them!
Herbs aren’t just ornamental. They’re also practical—here’s our guide to cooking with fresh herbs. Take the time to harvest your herbs by snipping leaves and stems so they’ll continue producing.
You can head to a store like Lowe’s to pick up potted herbs, or visit a local nursery. There are also plenty of places to buy plants and seeds online.