Easiest herbs to grow

leonardocorn_8April 19, 2011

What are some EASY herbs to grow?

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

We need a bit more information. Where do you live? What is your climate? How much space do you have? Do you have ample rain/irrigation? What is your soil like? What aspect is your garden? Are you prepared to sow seeds several times a season or do you want something that comes back every year? And .... most importantly ... what do you like to eat? Where I live bay is a cinch and basil is difficult. But it is the complete opposite for other people. Not being awkward but to give you a useful answer we need to know more.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 4:56AM
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I would like to hop in on this question. I'm zone 7, south jersey, looking to start a garden with vegetables and herbs in late august or september, and I'm probably going to include spinach as one. So what are some good herbs that would go with spinach (and possibly other vegetables that would go with spinach) in my situation?

Here is a link that might be useful: Herb Gardens

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:38AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

leonard, flora is exactly right. We can't help with suggestions until we know more about your environment and your needs. It's always important to match the plant with the soil type, climate, etc. that exists where you live.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 1:26PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

nikkibear84, if you are not planting until August/September you need to plan on what you can reasonably expect to get to a usable state before your frost date. Google frost dates by zip code. You can then figure what to plant.

Herb-wise, only cool-weather annuals like cilantro and dill would probably work. At that late date, I would plant peas, radishes, cole crops (i.e. Brassica's), lettuce, swiss chard, green onions, and the like.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 3:11PM
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The easiest herbs to grow are those which are native to areas which have a climate just like yours. Time to brush up on your geography, eh? And, as Rhizo said, you need to emulate the soil conditions etc as well, as near as possible.

Don't be put off by this, however. Herb-growing isn't rocket-science, once you've done a little homework. Half the fun is experimenting!

Another thing - grow only those herbs which you will use, especially while you're learning. I may sound as if I'm off the planet, but I've found that the herbs which grow best are the ones I love and use the most. That doesn't include the herbs which are weeds, of course!! They'll survive even if you hate them with a passion.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 7:08PM
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Sorry, I'm in zone 8, North Carolina. I just need really hardy plants cause the weather over here is just everywhere. I plan to keep them in a pot so I'll just use potting soil.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 11:31PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Leonardo, I am afraid you are not going to get a lot of help and encouragemne from the expert here, if you are planing to grow herbs in pots. Then you need to learn about annual, biennial and perennial herbs. growing annuals like basils, marjorams, is not that bad in pots but perennial like Oregano, sage, rosemary... in a pot is not a good pracice. Unless you are willing to buy a plant of each every year. JMO

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 12:33AM
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opal52(z7b GA)

I agree with DaisyDuckworth, it's not rocket science.

The weather in my area is all over the place also. I'll stick my neck out and share my limited experience on herbs. The easiest and most useful (my opinion) herb to grow is an annual: Basil. In zone 8, it should be no problem whatsoever and it grows really well in pots or containers. I have large containers on my patio in which I grow perennial herbs: Common Sage, Chives, Thyme, Rosemary, and Oregano. They have done quite well and have survived several winters. That said, my patio and herb gardens in our back yard are mostly protected from northern winds. Weather exposure can make a big difference in winter obviously.

Why not give it a try? The bigger the pot/container you can get, the better. I suggest using a potting mix that provides good aeration and drainage, and make sure the containers drain freely as well. Most herbs do not tolerate wet feet (my opinion and experience). You may want to take a look at the Container Gardening Forum. Many people that post there grow herbs in containers. Also, there's a thread there about potting mixes for containers. I make my own since I have a lot of containers, using Al's 5:1:1 recipe.

I hope this helps encourage you to give herbs a try. At least grow some basil.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 7:57AM
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Some container plants can be overwintered successfully. The rule of thumb is plants hardy to two zones lower than yours can be overwintered in a tub. Any plant hardy to zone 6, then should survive overwintering in a container in zone 8. Plus you can extend the hardiness zone rule by putting pots in garages or sheds for the winter, too.

Anyway, I grow all of my herbs in containers. I have to because my soil is just awful. It can be done. I agree growing plants in the ground is best, but sometimes that's not an option. Good luck and have fun. I think you could grow a lot of things well down there.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:35AM
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my soil is just sand and clay so i have to keep it in pots

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 10:47PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I have solid clay punctuated by rock. "Lovely" stuff to dig in! I grow all manner of herbs in the soil. I do amend my vegetable garden beds with organic matter (compost) to lighten and enrich up the soil but never have amended the other beds. The original owner of the house probably amended the beds 20'ish or more years ago when she put them in but I haven't added anything to them. Many herbs, ornamentals, and native plants do great in those. I keep my annuals/biennials like dill, parsley, basil, and cilantro in the vegetable beds. Everything else gets the existing mostly clay soil garden beds.

If you can put in even a small raised bed, I think you'll be happier with the results and your ability to overwinter herbs. Mix your existing soil with some organic material and you'll have great stuff to grow in!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 8:31AM
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Here in San Jose (8b-9a) I grow lots of successful perennials in pots. Thyme, oregano, mint, sage, and chives stay with me year after year, with the only thing I do for them being watering during the summer (and eventual division). I even have them in old potting soil from pulled up tomato plants. They are quite hardy....

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 1:56AM
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Most herbs are actually quite easy to grow. Many of the most popular herbs used in the US are Mediterranean in origin and thrive in low fertility and arid soils. They actually do better under conditions of 'neglect'. I particularly love lavender, rosemary, chamomile, oregano, thyme, and mint (this one likes it WET). I prefer the evergreen herbs though because you can harvest all year--but what can compete with summer basil! What I like about herbs is the fact that so many herbs have an interesting history in mythology and cuisine. Another bonus is that most are completely avoided my deer or other animals.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 12:14PM
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emileeg(DFW, TX)

Basil Basil Basil! Seriously, the times I've tried herbs in the past, even if nothing else germinated or stayed alive, the Basil always made it.

Mint too, but get a huge pot - that stuff spreads like crazy! I wouldn't recommend planting mint in the ground because it can become quite invasive. I remember when I was a kid, my parents planted mint out in the herb garden (4'x4'), and it overtook half the bed.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 1:17AM
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Most Basil is infected with virus, which can cause sudden, inexplicable diebacks. It also does not store in the fridge nearly as well as cilantro, which seems to love the coolness. I prefer to obtain my regular cilantro supply from a local Asian food mart, since it refrigerates so well and lasts for such a short time in the garden. Like many cool weather plants, it will "bolt" (go to seed) as the weather warms up. A bit of shade can hold that off for awhile.

Dill can be grown just by scattering the seed, and will come back for several years as it reseeds itself. So will fennel, although you do not want them to be close enough to pollinate each other. Like these two, cilantro is another annual that can reseed itself. If you plant tomatoes, these will all benefit from the extra watering and shade if planted near them. In fact, I heard, and have found it to be true, that planting tomatoes in a spot will improve the soil in that spot to make it easier to grow other things there at a later point.

Oregano likes to be planted in the ground (or a slightly raised bed) so it has the freedom to form a low mound and spread out a bit. I have found it to be very dependable in my zone and clay soil. It will winter over in a spot with sufficient sun.

Thyme and sage both have done much better for me in well-drained pots. Thyme is so small, it tends to get overshadowed and outcompeted by larger plants, and sage definitely needs the extra drainage to winter over. I have found that for some reason I apprecite fresh thyme more than any other herb, so for me it is worth growing even though the plants are so tiny. IMO it is definitely worth planting one of the larger varieties, for practical culinary use.

You could also consider garlic an herb and grow that. Additionally, there are garlic and regular chives, both of which are perennial. If you have enough space for it, Egyptian onion's antics are fun to watch, and if you enjoy celery seasoning but often run out, lovage, which can grow quite tall and perennialize, is also nice to have on hand.

Some mints are easier to grow than others. The basic peppermint is a pretty tough plant, but chocolate mint is more demanding. Spearmint is somewhere between the two. Pineapple mint (has white spots on leaves) will winter over for me in pots, and is great to use with the tender-but-beautiful pineapple sage in teas. There's really nothing wrong with planting mints in difficult spots no good for other plantings. It usualy doesn't spread that badly where the soil is dry and compacted, IMO; it is really only a large problem in a well cultivated, reasonably moist, bed laden with organic enrichments.

Part of the fun of growing herbs is discovering your own favorites and the conditions they thrive in. It's especially nice when one you like perennializes on your property. I had lemon balm take over an entire herb garden at one point and then spread through my entire yard. After a few years, it stabilized and now I only find a few plants here and there when I want to make tea with it.

Another thing that is fun with herbs is discovering that some of the cultivated and native plants--and weeds, even--that you have on your property have culinary or medicinal uses. On my land I can gather walnut, mulberry, and pokeberry leaves, elderbery blossoms, forsythia buds, rose petals, honeysuckle blossoms blueberry leaves, raspberry leaves, and all sorts of other things that can be used cautiously for various conditions. Dandilion and some other weeds are edible. Although we have an organized society that appears to be working well, it's nice to know that in hard times I could fall back on the resources offered by some of the plants I have invited to join my ecosphere.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 10:35PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

njoasis- Even though I've been a lover of plants since I was a kid, I have to admit it was the myth, legend, and history connection that first attracted me to learning more about herbs for I've had a passion for all things ancient (and specifically myth & lore) that is even older than my passion for plants. So I understand the appeal well!

eibren- It is a liberating feeling and a true sense of freedom to be able to "do" for yourself, even if only a little, isn't it? I urge everyone to grow some veggies, learn a couple of simple wild edibles (like dandelion), or learn about and grow a medicinal herb garden. Those skills learned will always be useful and you will not be sorry.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:31PM
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leonardocorn: I am in same zone as you (GA):

I had most success with mint (almost invasive but growing it in my slopes) and oregeno (sp?).

I had huge success with lavender (french) until I divided it. The divisions died and the mother plant which was huge and flourishing, is dying. Not sure if lavender is herb or not. THe spanish lavender on the other hand is growing well in slopes where I planted them.

I bought rosemary "tree" sort of topiary from pikes and planted it in my yard and it is growing.

I am experiementing with more herbs this year.

Basil does OK and so does thai basil...but can NEVER grow them from seeds. Same with Fennel. This year bought from pikes and it died on me!! So those (for me) turned out to be very tough herbs to grow.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 4:08PM
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opal52(z7b GA)


Don't give up on growing basil from seed. Sounds like you plant in ground mostly. Try taking a container with plain old potting soil, moisten the potting mix before you plant, sprinkle a few seeds in it, and just brush the potting soil with your fingers a little to give the seeds a very thin covering. Sit the container in sunlight and keep it watered. This time of year, with our hot weather, you should have basil seedlings as soon as two-three days. I have had problems direct sowing basil into the garden (bugs love the taste of small basil seedlings). Transplanting young plants always worked best for me. Basil in large containers works best of all.

Basil cuttings root easily in water also. You can get additional plants that way, although transplanting from water to potting soil is a little trickier.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 6:03PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I direct sow basil every year here in Western NY State. Does fine. No special fertilizer. Average veggie garden soil. Average moisture. Other than weeding, it gets largely neglect from me and it does fine.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 6:11PM
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I agree with emileeg. Mint is almost too easy to grow. That crap will take over a bed, so I'd suggest keeping it in a pot.

Thyme and oregano aren't particularly challenging, either.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 8:14PM
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I think if you can possibly plant herbs in the ground, you should do it. I've found that my herbs almost always do better in the ground than in a pot.

Herbs don't need nice soil either. My soil is all rocks and clay, and they still like it much better than pots.

I live in Central Texas, and rosemary and lavendar grow really well here right in the ground. Rosemary is used in lots of landscaping, and lavender is grown commercially in the Hill Country. Oregano can also get huge.

The only herbs I have a little bit of trouble with are the mints and close relatives like catnip and lemon balm. I think it's too hot and dry here for them to be happy. Mints have to be planted in a wet, shady spot, like under a water spigot so it can get the water that leaks there.

But other than the mints, herbs like it here right out in the direct sun, in the lousy clay and rock soil, with very little water. I've killed several rosemary plants by pampering them too much, growing them in the shade, putting them in pots, etc. If you're mean to them, then you get a huge rosemary shrub with a big, thick trunk.

I think Texas has a similar climate to the Mediteranean. Not exactly, but a lot of their plants grow here, like grapes and olives. So herbs are the same way.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 2:12PM
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Sand and clay is great for a lot of herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme. Why would you not just add some composted manure and give it a go?
I think a lot of people have become convinced that nothing grows in native soil anymore. We've been brainwashed by the container gardeners and square rooters!
How do you think weeds grow?
Herbs are just edible weeds!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 9:09PM
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