Herbs are a delight for the senses! They provide unique fragrances and flavors, and can also be useful cosmetically and medicinally. Herbs can be annuals or perennials and are generally easy to grow.
The versatility of herbs allows them to be incorporated into flower gardens, containers, or simply planted in a bed of their own. Some can be grown indoors in a sunny window, but this depends on the herb and the conditions of your home. There are a wide variety of herbs, but many can generally be planted and cared for in the same way.
Plant herbs in well-draining soil, maintaining the same depth as it was in the original container. If planting in a garden bed, remove existing vegetation, till the soil 2-4” deep, and amend soil with compost to improve drainage. Place a thin layer of mulch around the plant to keep roots cool, retain moisture, and control weeds. Be sure not to mulch right up to the stem, instead leaving about 2 inches of space for air circulation.
If planting in a container, use potting soil, and preferably either a clay or ceramic pot, rather than plastic. The size of the pot should be no more than 2” larger in diameter than the plant’s root system, to ensure that the plant can adequately absorb moisture from the soil. When planting several herbs in one pot, try to choose plants with similar water and fertilizer needs.
Most herbs require at least 6 hours of full sun a day.
Herbs don’t tolerate sitting in water, so err on the drier side in terms of watering frequency. Avoid getting water on the foliage to prevent foliar disease.
Most often we use the leaves of herbs, not the flowers, so avoid using too much fertilizer or a fertilizer that encourages flowering. Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilize at half the strength recommended on the label about every 3 weeks or so. Or add a slow-release or organic fertilizer to the soil when you plant.
Many herbs benefit from frequent pinching of new growth, and will branch out. When using herbs for cooking, pinch flower buds or they will go to seed and the leaves will taste bitter. Regularly weed the garden to maintain plant health and yield.
Culinary herbs may be harvested throughout the growing season by snipping sprigs and leaves as needed. Many will contain the best flavor if harvested just before flowering. Mid-morning hours are the best time to pick herbs, as this is when oil content is highest. Keep herbs out of bright light once picked.
When using fresh, gather only what will be used each day. When drying or freezing, gather only as much as what will be dried or frozen at one time.
Herb List 2017
Drying, Preserving, & Storing Herbs
Companion Herb Planting
Herbs Attractive to Bees