Correction: Can All Herbs Be Planted Together?

ponderinstuffMay 10, 2008

Can all herbs be planted together or do different herbs have different growing requirements?

I only have a few herbs (so far); rosemary, basil, oregano, apple mint, chives, and lemon balm but I suspect they shouldn't all be planted together. How do I know which herbs to plant together in dry sun and which ones should be planted in moist shade? The plant tags are no help as I bought two apple mint plants at different places and one tag recommended sun and the other tag recommended shade.

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Once you know that there are 20,000 KNOWN herbs on the planet, a little thought will tell you that not all herbs can be grown together. You can't expect a desert plant to do well in boggy conditions, and you can't expect a plant from the deep forest to survive in full sun. And so on.

It's a matter of doing some homework before planting herbs in your garden, just as you'd do with any plant. There are millions of books out there which give details of plant requirements, and millions of websites, too.

As for the mint tags - that really makes me grind my teeth! Much work needs to be done on plant labelling! Much depends on your climate. Where I live, in the subtropics, the fierce sun can burn the leaves of mint, so obviously I put mine in partial shade. But if I lived in the wilds of Canada, where the sun is more wishy-washy (when you get it at all!!), I'd put it out in full sun.

With gardening, you'll find that you'll need to do a lot of experimenting - if a plant is unhappy in one place, you'll have to find another home for it. It's on ongoing process.

When you check the books and websites, you'll also get some idea on other aspects of the plants you want to grow - how big the plant will get, whether it spreads far and wide, how fast it will grow, whether it likes rich soil or poor, and so on. Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way.

I suggest that you research each plant and find out what its natural habitat is. You'll learn a lot of geography along the way! If a plant originated in, say, the Mediterranean region, you need to find out just what the climatic conditions are there. And then try to emulate those conditions in your garden as best you can.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 9:57PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Seems like a duplicate post here..

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 11:30PM
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I'm in a zone similar to yours, and have planted all of those herbs. Our soil here is fairly heavy clay, though, which holds moisture well, and I believe we get more rain than you do. Additionally, I suspect we have more humidity.

In my conditions, all of the plants you list would probably find full sun tolerable as long as they had sufficient moisture. They would need to be carefully watched for the first few weeks until their roots recovered from being moved, and might need protection via artificial shade if they began to wilt.

The rosemary, basil, oregano, and chives would actively prefer full sun. Basil is the one of those most susceptible to fungus problems if the soil's moisture is excessive, but it is not equipped to deal with insufficient moisture, either. Oregano and chives are usually happy with average garden conditions, and rosemary would prefer sharp drainage, best achieved in a pot (with added sand, if your soil is clay and you are not using potting soil...I hate the artificial potting soil, but don't get me started). Oregano will tolerate some shade, but spreads better the more sun it gets; the same is true for chives. They should both come back for you next year. I think Basil is an out-an-out annual; in any case, it is not winter hardy in our zone, so it will not return.

Most rosemaries are not winter hardy in our zone, the sometime exception being AARP and maybe some new one/s I don't know about yet. Even with full sun, it will not be able to compete with the other herbs, and even chives, unless planted at a distance, might be able to overgrow it. If you want to plant one herb in a pot, that would be the one I would choose for that. If the pot is large enough, you could put a thyme in with it; thymes are so tiny that they are easily overwhelmed in an in-ground planting with larger plants, and they are as fond of sharp drainage as rosemary is.

Most mints can tolerate some shade, and some actually prefer quite a bit of it. Most like to have some direct sun at least part of the day, though.

In Pennsylvania, lemon balm, which I think is really lemon mint, can easily take over a whole garden bed, meaning one that has been cultivated and is easy to grow in. That won't happen for a few years, but if you want a low-maintenance, long-lasting herb garden where everything has a chance to survive, I wouldn't put lemon balm in there. You could put it in a pot and make certain to cut it back before it goes to seed, or plant it in a well-bounded spot by itself well away from any other cultivation. I don't like it in pots; it spreads mainly by seed setting rather than runners, so it has a vertical habit that looks gangly unless you keep it severely pruned. If you want to make a lot of tea with it, it will perennialize nicely for you, and I would give it its own spot. It probably will spread around your whole yard, but if you use it for tea anyway, that probably will not be too much of a problem.

I have not had as much experience yet with apple mint--is yours smooth or fuzzy? You could try that in a pot to start with, or in its own spot, like the lemon mint. I think the smooth kind would look better in a pot than the fuzzy kind. Like any mint, it will have a lot of potential to spread...although I believe I read somewhere that apple mint is a bit more sedate than some mints, preferring to form clumps rather than spread at large (or maybe I am thinking of orange mint). I have planted apple mint several times unsuccessfully, but this time it wintered over for me, the difference seeming to be that I incorporated more organic matter, mostly in the form of leaves, into the planting bed this time.

Quite frankly, my preference is to have mint rather than weeds, so I am a bit more permissive with it than most gardeners. If you plan to do gardening with small and delicate plants, mint is not the best thing to have running at will through your property, because it will swamp the more delicate plants. I have a great deal of shade to deal with, and have quite a few shrubs. Mints are fine under shrubs.

Good luck with your garden, and I hope you will report back to let us know how it does!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 3:00AM
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