Its easy and fun to make your own potted herb wedding favors and party decorations.
Advance planing is the key to success.
The plants will take 6 to 8 weeks to grow and you will need to get the pots, tags and soil together.
We recommend you use your local garden center rather than one of the big box stores. Its true you may pay a little more but if no one supports the independent merchants and they go out of business we will be forced to buy what the big boxes offer.
Many of the smaller independent garden centers will be able to order your pots while you wait for the plants to grow.
Online sources can also be a good choice for that special design pot.
Terra cotta or ceramic pots should be a bit on the wide side so they are less likely to tip. Some of the plastic ones are nice. You could use a cup or mug too.
If you use a container without a drain hole in the bottom make sure you use some sort of drainage such as stones or broken shards of pottery in the bottom.
Use a good quality starting mix.
Used to start the seedlings. Plastic ones are available at the garden center or you could use a cardboard soft drink flat lined with plastic or any cardboard box or container about 12″ by 18″ and 2 to 3 inches deep.
If you or someone you know has nice penmanship or calligraphy skills you could make the tags by hand. Other wise use the computer and a script you like. Card stock can be purchased at your local independent office supply store. Attach the tags to the favors by gluing to a pop sickle stick like a garden row marker. In addition to the bride and grooms names and wedding date you could include a guests name and the favor doubles as a seating guide.
Have some small plastic bags ready so the guests can carry the plants home safely. Just crumple the bag around the bottom of the favor or leave tied with a bow on the top until the guests arrive. Thus covered, the plants will stay moist for the busy time before the room is set up and until the party begins.
Choose your favorite herb seed. Rosemary is a traditional wedding herb and lavender is nice too. Mix them up and guests will have fun trading or put a few in together for a mini herb garden. Follow the direction on the seed packs for starting and most important, to see how long it will take for the seeds to reach a fair 6 or 8 inches by the wedding date.
Use only clean water which has been left out in an uncovered plastic jug overnight. This will allow any chlorine to escape and the water will be at room temperature. Do not use softened water as the residual salt in the water could harm the plants.
Decide what herb you will be growing and estimate the number of guest. Your going to need to know how many pots to get and how many seeds to start. Check the growing time and figure backwards to the time when you want to start. It is better to leave a few weeks extra as you can always pinch the plants back if they get big. At least 2 weeks extra, this way you will have nice strong plants to offer.
Take the starting tray and fill it nearly full with the planting soil.
Follow the direction on the seed packages for sowing the seeds.
Plant many more than you will need as some of the seeds might not sprout.
If you have extras just plant them around your house and harvest them for cooking or give them to the neighbors. Many food pantry’s have container gardening programs and are more than happy to take donations of herb plants.
Mist the soil with a hand sprayer, using clean water that has set out overnight, until moist throughout but not wet, and cover the tray with clear plastic wrap.
Note the date on a calender and check the seeds each day, making sure they stay moist but not sopping wet. A bit of condensation on the inside of the plastic wrap means the soil is probably wet. Use the sprayer to add water as needed.
After a short while the seeds will germinate. Keep them covered until the seedlings touch the plastic.
Remove the covering and set them in a warm sunny window. Continue to monitor the soil and water before they can dry out. The soil will dry out quickly with the cover off so check them twice a day or more. Rotate the flats each day so they get even lighting.
Make sure they are in a window which gets light most of the day. A green house would be best but a sunny window can work if you are vigilant about turning the plants.
Depending on your climate and the weather you could begin to place them out doors.
Start by placing them in the shade and then move them into the sun for a hour then two then three etc each day to keep them from getting sun burnt. Keep them out of strong wind or hard rain for the next 2 weeks.
Follow the directions on the seed pack for trans planting, but a good rule of thumb is when the plants are 3 or 4 inches high you could transplant. Fill the pots with the potting soil pressing down firmly. Next make a hole with your finger deep enough to accommodate the root of the plant and a spoonfuls or so of the soil from the flat.
Then using a plastic spoon, scoop the plant up out of the flat and deposit it in the pot. The trick is not to touch the plant but if you must handle the seedlings only touch the leaves. picking the seedlings up by the stem will damage the plant and it might die. So just scoop it up with the spoon and put the roots into the little hole. Add a little soil if necessary and tamp lightly around the base to the seedling. Don’t fertilize or put the trans planted seedling in the sun for a few days. The plant will be in shock and needs time to get its head together. Seriously let the plant rest a few days.
That’s pretty much it.
As the plants get bigger you can let them get a little dry before watering but be careful of driving rain until they are 6 to 8 inches high. When the wedding date arrives put each plant in a plastic bag. The quart freezer storage bags without the zip lock seem to work well.
Pull the bag around the pot and tie on top. If you are leaving the bags on you could use a ribbon. Put the tags on a stick or tie them to the ribbon if you are leaving the bags on.
Now to save time you could have a grower do the work for you. Arrange in advance for them to grow your seedlings and you can pick them up when you need them. There are many greenhouses who will do this for you. Another option would be to grow flowers instead of herbs.
We have had good luck with everything from marigolds to geraniums. Just be sure to allow enough time for the flowers to start blooming. If the package says 6 to 8 weeks then it till probably be more like 10 to 12 weeks for blooms.