How to Create a Thriving Herb Garden in a Belfast Sink

Kitchen herb gardens are a great way to have fresh herbs right at your fingertips, but not everyone has space for an in-ground garden. Belfast sinks make for an unexpected yet ideal herb planter! These vintage porcelain sinks have a classic style that makes them perfect for displaying culinary herbs on a patio, balcony or any small space. With proper care, you can create a beautiful and productive herb garden in a Belfast sink.

Choosing the Right Herbs for Your Belfast Sink Garden

The key to success is selecting small, compact herb varieties that will thrive in the confined space of a Belfast sink without outgrowing it. Some of the best options include:


Thyme is a must-have culinary herb that comes in many different varieties. English thyme and lemon thyme are two of the most popular for cooking. The plants have tiny leaves and woody stems that rarely exceed 12 inches in height. Thyme needs at least 6 hours of sun daily. Prune often to encourage bushy new growth.


Greek oregano and golden oregano add robust flavor to Italian dishes, meat, vegetables and more. Oregano plants are petite, reaching just 8-12 inches tall. They are hardy perennials in zones 5-9 and appreciate full sun. Oregano leaves can be snipped as needed during the growing season.


Both garlic chives and onion chives add a mild onion flavor to soups, salads, eggs, potatoes and anything else you can imagine. The slender green leaves emerge in clumps from the base of the plants. Chives can grow up to 18 inches tall but are easily contained with frequent cutting. They are cold hardy and come back reliably each spring.


Curly leaf and Italian flat leaf parsley are essential for garnishing and cooking. The bright green leaves have a fresh, herbal taste. Parsley thrives in cool weather and tolerates partial shade. Keep it trimmed back to 6-12 inches tall for optimal growth and productivity in a confined space like a Belfast sink.


Garden sage and golden sage are prized for their silvery green foliage and savory flavor. They grow 18-24 inches tall but respond well to pruning and regular harvesting. Pick the leaves before plants flower for best flavor. Sage does well in zones 4-8 and needs at least 6 hours of sunlight.


This fragrant herb has needle-like leaves and a piney scent. Rosemary can grow quite large but dwarf varieties like Blue Boy and Blue Spires are more compact at 2-3 feet tall. They make great additions to a Belfast sink herb garden. Rosemary thrives in hot, sunny conditions. Bring plants indoors over winter.


Nothing beats freshly picked basil leaves in summertime recipes. Choose from sweet basil, Genovese basil, Thai basil or other compact varieties that grow 10-12 inches tall. Pinch off flowers to keep plants bushy and productive. Start new plants from cuttings every few months. Basil needs warm temperatures and at least 6 hours of full sun daily.


Spearmint and peppermint are widely popular for their refreshing taste and scent. However, mint’s spreading nature makes it a more challenging plant for confined spaces. Consider keeping it in a separate pot sunk into the soil of the main sink garden. Trim mint often to control its growth and vigor. The plants thrive in partial shade in zones 3-11.

Avoid large, sprawling herbs like dill and cilantro which need much more room than a Belfast sink can provide. Focus on petite varieties for the best results!

Preparing and Planting Your Belfast Sink Herb Garden

Belfast sinks make charming planters, but a bit of work is required to get them ready for herbs. Here are some tips:

Make Sure the Sink Has Good Drainage

Belfast sinks were designed for kitchen use, not plants, so the first step is ensuring your sink can drain properly. Look for existing holes in the bottom. If there are none, you will need to drill several drainage holes. Space them evenly apart and make the holes at least 1/4 inch wide.

Add Drainage Material

Any container garden needs adequate drainage to prevent soggy soil and root rot issues. Place a 2-3 inch layer of small rocks, pebbles or broken clay pots over the bottom of the sink. This creates a drainage layer for excess water to flow through.

Use a Quality Potting Mix

Regular garden soil is too heavy for container gardening. Invest in a commercial potting mix formulated for containers instead. Look for mixes containing peat moss, vermiculite or perlite. These help aerate the soil and retain moisture.

Fill the Sink Halfway with Potting Mix

You don’t want to pack the entire sink full of soil or it will be too heavy. Fill the sink about halfway with moistened potting mix. Pat it gently to make an even surface for planting.

Follow Planting Directions

Read the plant tags or seed packets to see how closely together your chosen herbs should be spaced. This will vary depending on the mature size of the plants. Arrange the starts or sow seeds accordingly.

Water Thoroughly After Planting

Once your Belfast sink herb garden is in place, water the plants well to settle the soil. Add more potting mix if needed where any plants are settling lower than the soil surface.

Caring for Your Thriving Belfast Sink Herb Garden

With proper care, your compact Belfast sink herb garden will flourish! Follow these tips for success:

Water When the Soil is Dry

Container gardens need more frequent watering than in-ground plantings. Check the sink garden daily and water whenever the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry. Most herbs prefer evenly moist (but not soggy) soil.

Let the Soil Dry Out Between Waterings

While herbs need consistent moisture, you never want the soil to stay wet for too long. Always allow the sink to drain fully and wait until the soil has dried out a bit before watering again. This prevents fungus gnats, root rot and other moisture-related issues.

Fertilize Monthly During the Growing Season

The confined space of a Belfast sink means nutrients get used up quickly. Fertilize the sink garden with a water-soluble, balanced liquid fertilizer once a month when plants are actively growing. This keeps herbs lush and productive.

Prune and Harvest Herbs Often

Don’t be shy about harvesting herbs frequently! Snipping encourages compact, bushy new growth which is ideal for your space. Prune back any leggy stems or plants that get too large. Harvesting also removes flowers, so the plants keep focusing energy on leaf production.

Provide Sunlight According to Herb Needs

Some herbs like basil require a full 6+ hours of direct sunlight daily while others like mint will tolerate partial shade. Know the light needs of your chosen herbs and position the Belfast sink garden in an optimal spot. Rotate if needed to give all plants the sunlight they prefer.

With attentive care, your artistic Belfast sink will soon be overflowing with fresh-picked herbs ready to flavor your culinary creations!

Overwintering Your Belfast Sink Herb Garden

One challenge with container gardening is protecting tender herbs through harsh winter weather. Here are some tips to help your Belfast sink herb garden survive:

Move the Sink to a Sheltered Spot

Before the first expected frost date, relocate the herb-planted sink next to your house or under an overhang. This gives protection from cold winds, rain, ice and snow.

Hold Off on Fertilizing

Fertilizing encourages new growth that is vulnerable to freezing. Stop fertilizing 6-8 weeks before your average first frost to allow plants to harden off.

Reduce Watering as Cold Weather Hits

Overwatering can damage dormant plant roots in winter. Check soil moisture and only water if the sink garden is bone dry. The plants need very little moisture while dormant.

Prune Back Herbs in Fall

Cut back the size of all herbs by one third to one half in early fall. This prevents excessive die-back in winter and removes woodier stems that may not survive cold snaps. New growth will regenerate in spring.

Apply Winter Mulch Over the Soil

Insulate dormant herb roots by topping the soil with 2-3 inches of shredded leaves, straw or evergreen branches once temperatures fall below freezing. Remove the mulch cover in spring as new growth emerges.

With smart preparation and care, you can maintain a thriving Belfast sink herb garden through every season! The elegance and charm of these repurposed antiques makes the effort well worthwhile.

Best Herb Varieties for Growing in Belfast Sinks

If you’re ready to plant up a Belfast sink herb garden, keep these petite varieties in mind:


  • English thyme – 10-12 inches tall
  • Lemon thyme – 6-8 inches tall
  • Creeping thyme – 3 inches tall groundcover


  • Greek oregano – 8-10 inches tall
  • Golden oregano – 6-8 inches tall
  • Dwarf oregano – 5 inches tall


  • Onion chives – 12-18 inches tall
  • Garlic chives – 12-15 inches tall


  • Curly leaf parsley – 10-15 inches tall
  • Italian flat leaf parsley – 10-12 inches tall


  • Garden sage – 18-24 inches tall
  • Golden sage – 15-18 inches tall
  • Compact sage – 10-12 inches tall


  • Blue Boy dwarf – 2-3 feet tall
  • Blue Spires – 3 feet tall
  • Prostrate rosemary – Groundcover, 12 inches tall


  • Sweet basil – 12-24 inches tall
  • Spicy globe basil – 10-12 inches tall
  • Lemon basil – 10-15 inches tall


  • Spearmint – 12-24 inches tall
  • Peppermint – 12-20 inches tall
  • Orange mint – 18-20 inches tall

Creative Ways to Repurpose Belfast Sinks Beyond Gardening

Belfast sinks are too stylish to relegate to the garden alone! If herb growing doesn’t appeal to you, consider these fun repurposing ideas:

  • Create a unique fairy garden display in a vintage Belfast sink.
  • Turn the sink upside down and use it as a birdbath pedestal.
  • Make the sink into a pond or water feature for your garden.
  • Use as a container for flowers and trailing succulents.
  • Plant a salad greens or mini vegetable garden in the sink.
  • Upcycle as an ice chest or cooler for parties.
  • Turn it into a fire pit for your patio or backyard.
  • Use as a drink dispenser station at your next outdoor event.
  • Convert to an indoor succulent planter or exotic plant display.
  • Grow a container water garden with lotus or water lilies.
  • Repurpose as a bathtub for kids or pets!
  • Display the sink in your garden as an ornamental artifact.

The versatile design and classic styling of Belfast sinks offers almost endless possibilities beyond herb gardens. Let your creativity run wild! With the right plants or repurposing, these iconic antiques will lend unique vintage charm to your indoor or outdoor space.


Belfast sinks are the perfect unexpected vessel for cultivating compact kitchen herb gardens or displaying flowers and foliage. Their vintage appeal makes them highly sought-after for repurposing in today’s decor. With some creativity and the right care, Belfast sinks can be upcycled into amazing features for any garden or living space. Focus on selecting petite herb varieties suited to the constrained space. Overwinter with protection to enjoy your artistic Belfast sink herb garden for many seasons to come!