- Herbs can be grown just about anywhere you have 4-5 or more hours of full sun and well drained organic (not compact, heavy clay) soil. If it’s shady try parsley, mint, tarragon, chives, even basil.
- Raised beds, existing flower beds or in pots
- Soil- Well drained organic soil- good texture- workable- loose. Cotton Burr Compost
- Fertilizer- Herbs need very little. Their flavor can actually deteriorate if fed strong quick release foods-excessive leaf growth at expense of flavor. It’s best to use a low dose slow release fertilizer like – Espoma Garden-tone. Fish Emulsion, bone meal, or your own compost. Organic fertilizers have no salt which can build up over time in pots.
- Planting- It’s useless to plant too soon. Just like tomatoes, most herbs prefer warm soil temps. So in beds probably not before May 1st. In containers or raised beds sooner because soil is warmer. Some herbs prefer cool temps- chives, parsley, cilantro (coriander) and fennel.
- Harvesting-It’s important to harvest leaves before they set seed (especially basil) because flowers set at the expense of foliage and flavor deteriorates.
- Some herbs are grown for their seed heads- chives, dill. Or grown for their attractive flowers- lavender, Kent’s Beauty oregano, Mexican Bush Sage –known as Hummingbird Sage and Fern Leaf Lavender-hummers love it too!
Popular Herbs to Try:
Basil- (A) needs warm weather. Leaves are small so plant plenty. Genovese or Italian basil is the one for pesto. But lots of other good varieties like:
- Cinnamon- very fragrant and spicy sweet in food.
- Lemon Sweet Dani- pungent lemon flavor
- Greek Columnar Basil- good for growing indoors
Bay Laurel (TP)-Only herb that is stronger fresh than dried. Expensive at the store because it is slow growing and hard to root. So grow in a pot so and bring in. It’s free at Effingers!
Bloodflower (Asclepias)- (A) ornamental- The #1 Monarch butterfly attractor. Not culinary. 3-4 ft.
Chives- (P) – For best flavor cut a portion of the plant’s outer leaves all the way down instead of shearing across the top. Beautiful purple flowers and purported to repel insects when planted around roses.
Cilantro- (A)-cool season plant. Bolts in hot weather. Cilantro is the leaf and coriander the seed. AKA Chinese parsley and used in lots of Asian food.
Dill-(A)-leaves and seed are great in food. If making pickles, plant lots because leaves once cut don’t regrow.
Fennel, Bronze-(P) – Striking purple, green & bronze ferny foliage. Host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly! Gets big so needs lots of room 4-5 ft. Grows anywhere- my driveway, terrible soil.
Lavender-(P) – Lavender requires sharp drainage. Grow in coarse well drained soil, no clay. So maybe best in a pot. Winter time wetness is instant death to lavender.
The most perennial lavenders- winter hardy- are Munstead, Hidcote and Provence- but only if drainage is excellent. Grosso is extremely fragrant with gorgeous dark purple flowers. Fernleaf lavender (TP) with long flower wands is a hummer magnet. Mulch all well late in the fall.
Lemon Verbena- (TP)-the most lemony scent of all herbs. Plant is ‘the way’ so you’ll constantly being brushing up against it.
Marjoram, Sweet- (TP)- culinary with flavor supposedly sweeter than oregano.
Mint – (P) – Invasiveness can be controlled. Plant in deep sturdy nursery pots with bottoms removed. Also cutting all the way down occasionally controls growth. Think about mint as a ground cover in moist shady areas where nothing else will grow.
Kentucky Colonel Spearmint- great in ice tea. Also lime, orange, peppermint, apple, banana and chocolate!
Oregano – (P)- Greek oregano is the standard for pasta and pizza. Bees love the pretty purple flowers is allowed to bloom. Hot & Spicy Oregano for extra kick in your food. And my favorite ornamental trailing herb is Kent’s Beauty (TP).
Parsley, Italian or flat leaf- (B)- the one most cooks ask for. To harvest, cut a portion of the plant’s leaves all the way down (like chives)instead of shearing across the top. Curly parsley, the garnish, is a pretty plant-dark green and bushy.
Rosemary – (TP)-makes a great indoor plant. Fragrance is lovely and has dainty lavender flowers. Barbecue rosemary has sturdy stems that can be used for flavorful skewers on the grill!
Rue – (P) – attractive finely cut silvery foliage, 2 ft., with button yellow flowers. Host plant for the swallowtail butterflies and is reported to repel insects.
Sage – (P)- Berggarten garden sage has large round leaves that are great for cooking and drying. It makes a handsome small hedge if trimmed occasionally to keep bushy. Has attractive grayish green foliage, is easy to grow and can tolerate drought.
Mexican Bush Sage (TP)-is grown for the hummingbird spectacular bi-color violet blooms.
Sorrel, Red Veined- (P) dark green leaves with bright red veins. Yummy, nutritious and adds color to any fresh green salad.
Stevia – (TP) – the sugar substitute herb. Three times sweeter than sugar w/o any calories.
Scented Geraniums- prized for their fragrant foliage and unique fragrance. Pretty tucked in pots of flowers and somewhere close where they can be smelled. They have unusual and different leaf shape sizes and variegation. Fun for kids too.
Tarragon, French – (P) – distinct anise flavor. Easy to grow in warm sunny sites, drought tolerant.
Thyme-(P)- requires excellent drainage like lavender and is beautiful in a pot with lavender. We have English thyme, French thyme that some say is the best culinary variety and lemon thyme that is perfect for seafood.