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Gardening: The Basics: Herbs

This is a how to guide to help anyone get started in gardening.


Basil is easy to grow, but it only grows outdoors in the summer once the soil has warmed up nicely—and it’s a great companion to tomatoes! Here’s what to know about planting, growing, and harvesting basil.

A member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs. It’s a warm-weather annual herb that you can plant outdoors once temperatures are consistently above 50°F. 

Basil is not usually seeded directly into the soil; rather, gardeners transplant small starter plants purchased at a nursery. Or, they may start the seeds themselves indoors under grow lights.

Common or sweet basilOcimum basilicum, is the most common basil; other types include purple basil (less sweet than common basil), lemon basil (lemon flavor), and Thai basil (licorice flavor)

If you’re planning on making pesto, grow several plants. For other uses, one or two basil plants yield plenty.

For more information on how to grow basil click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Basil.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Basil link.  


Oregano is a must-have herb in a culinary garden, oregano is easy to grow and perfect for beginners. Started in spring, oregano grows well in containers or even as ground cover along a path. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest oregano—plus how to use oregano!

Belonging to the mint family, or Lamiaceae, oregano is a woody perennial plant. It’s a robust herb with a peppery bite and a minty aroma. In the Greek language, the word oregano means “joy of the mountain” and it’s certainly a popular herb for any Mediterranean cuisine.

Oregano adds savory flavor to pizza, tomato sauce, and really anything tomato as well as cooked summer vegetables such as zucchini and eggplant, a Greek salad, kabobs, roasted potatoes, white beans, a vinaigrette, and any egg dish.

The perennial herb produces long trailing stems which looks pretty spilling over a container or as a bright green leafy ground cover, especially along a path. White flowers bloom in late summer.

Oregano also makes a good companion plant in the vegetable garden.

For more information on how to grow oregano click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Oregano.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Oregano link.  


Parsley is a biennial plant with bright green, feather-like leaves. It’s in the same family as dill and carrots and is most commonly used as a garnish. Here’s how to grow parsley in your own garden.

This popular herb is used in sauces, salads, and especially soups, as it lessens the need for salt. Not only is parsley the perfect garnish, it’s also good for you; it’s rich in iron and vitamins A and C!

Native to Mediterranean Europe, the parsley plant is a biennial, but is usually grown as an annual in home gardens. After the first year, the leaves tend to become more bitter and tough, but the plant will gladly reseed itself in temperate zones.

For more information on how to grow parsley click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Parsley.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Parsley link.  


Rosemary is an attractive perennial shrub with fragrant leaves. It’s also a popular culinary herb with a wonderful aroma and piney taste which goes well with meat, soups, and potatoes. Learn how to plant, grow, prune, and harvest rosemary the right way!

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is a compact small to medium-sized woody shrub; there’s also a trailing variety. This shrubby herb is a type of sage, and grows well with other Mediterranean herbs, such as lavender and thyme. It has lovely blue flowers as well, attracting pollinators!

Drought-tolerant, rosemary grows best in warm areas, similar to its native shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In these conditions, rosemary can grow into a shrub 5 to 10 feet in height. In fact, rosemary grows so vigorously in ideal conditions that it needs a yearly pruning to keep it bushy.

This herb can be grown in the ground or in a pot. If you live in Zones 7 and warmer, it grows easily as a perennial evergreen shrub that lives for many years. Rosemary is hardy down to 15 to 23°F (-10 to -5°C) so it may need winter protection. In colder areas, rosemary should be grown in a pot and brought indoors for the winter.

When growing rosemary as a culinary herb, it’s best to harvest in the spring and summer when it’s actively putting on new growth. Rosemary grows as a compact woody shrub. While all the leaves are technically edible, we usually only eat the tender leaves that form at the tips of new branches.

For more information on how to grow rosemary click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Rosemary.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Rosemary link.


Sage: Garden sage is easy to grow—and a wonderful culinary herb! How do you use sage? Flavor meat and bean dishes (including that Thanksgiving stuffing!). Mix into salads! See how to plant, grow, and harvest sage.

Sage is a hardy perennial with pretty, grayish-green leaves that like as good in a perennial border as they do in a vegetable garden. It grows spikes of spring flowers in different colors, including purple, blue, white, and pink.

Note Not all sage varieties are culinary; the most popular kitchen sage is called Salvia officinalis. The origin of the salvia name speaks to this herb’s age-old medicinal value from the Latin salvus “to save” and salvere, “to heal”. Sage contains antioxidants which help reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cancer. It’s also rich in vitamin K, which aids the body in clotting blood.

For more information on how to grow sage click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Sage.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Sage link.


Thyme is a wonderful herb with a pleasant, pungent, clover flavor. It smells like summer to us! There are both fragrant ornamental types as well as culinary thyme varieties, which add a savory note to summer soups, grilled meats, and vegetables. Here’s how to plant and grow thyme.

A low-growing hardy perennial, thyme is a fragrant herb with small, fragrant leaves and thin, woody stems. The culinary varieties are evergreen.  Thyme comes in over fifty varieties with different fragrances and flavors. Fresh or English thyme is used most often in cooking.

Originally from the Mediterranean area, this herb is drought-friendly, so it doesn’t have high watering needs. It is also pollinator-friendly! Let some thyme plants flower, since the herb attracts the bees.

While thyme is usually harvested in the summer months, we have harvested ours well into late fall!  Thyme can grow in the ground or in a container. Either is left outside in wintertime. New leaves will emerge within the early spring.

For more information on how to grow thyme click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Thyme.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Thyme link.  


Chives are perennial members of the onion family that sport beautiful edible flowers. Plus, they’re a wonderful companion plant that helps deter pests. Here’s how to grow chives in your garden!

Chives are cool-season, cold-tolerant perennials best planted in early to mid-spring for an early summer harvest.

Be mindful when planting this herb, as it will take over your garden if the flowers are allowed to develop fully (the flowers scatter the seeds). However, this plant is easy to dig up and move if it does end up invading other parts of your garden.

Chives are also a wonderful companion plant that deters pests. They’re a good friend to plant with carrots, celery, lettuce, peas, and tomatoes.

Types of Chives to Grow
The two species of chives commonly grown in home gardens are common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (A. tuberosum):

Common chives consist of clumps of small, slender bulbs that produce thin, tubular, blue-green leaves reaching 10-15 inches in height. The edible, flavorful flowers may be white, pink, purple, or red, depending on variety. They can be grown in zones 3 to 9.
Garlic chives (also called Chinese chives) look similar to common chives, but their leaves are flatter, greener, and get to be about 20 inches in height. As their name suggests, their leaves have a mild garlic flavor (bulbs are more intense). Flowers are white, and are larger and less densely-clustered than those of common chives. Garlic chives are not quite as cold hardy as common chives, so they are recommended for zones 4 to 9.

For more information on how to grow chives click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Chives.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Chives link.  


Cilantro is a fast-growing, aromatic, annual herb that grows best in the cooler weather of spring and fall. Here’s how to grow cilantro (and coriander) in your garden.

This herb is used to flavor many recipes, and the entire plant is edible, though the leaves and seeds are used most often.

Cilantro vs. Coriander
Cilantro and coriander are different parts of the same plant.

Cilantro, Coriandrum sativum, usually refers to the leaves of the plant, which are used as an herb. This describes the vegetative stage of the plant’s life cycle.

Coriander refers to the seeds, which are typically ground and used as a spice. This happens after the plant flowers and develops seeds.

For more information on how to grow cilantro click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Cilantro.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Cilantro link.  


Dill: With its feathery green leaves, fragrant dill is used commonly in pickling, soups, dressings, and potato dishes. As its name suggests, dill “weed” is easy to grow! It’s also a great companion plant to deter pests. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest dill

Native to Eurasia and the Mediterranean, dill is most at home in warmer climates. It’s an annual herb, so to create a permanent patch of dill, allow some of the plants to flower and go to seed each year—you’ll have plenty of early dill to start the next growing season.

Dill attracts beneficial insects such as wasps and other predatory insects to your garden, and is a host plant for the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly.

For more information on how to grow dill click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Dill.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Dill link.  


Ginger is the 2023 Herb of the Year™ according to the International Herb Association! Fresh ginger is a treat not to be missed and can be planted outside in the spring. Discover more about growing ginger; then grab some rhizomes and let’s get rooting! 

Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root, is widely used as a spice and herbal medicine. It is an herbaceous perennial that can be grown outside in USDA zone 9 to 11 if temperatures do not fall to or below 32°F (0°C). Fortunately, the rest of us can grow in containers or dig the rhizomes up before frost. 

A stately plant, a few stands of ginger will look good on your patio or in your garden as well. Reaching 3 to 4 feet tall, the rhizome clump will typically spread 1 to 2 feet wide. The above-ground portion of the plant looks like thick-stemmed grass, and it is the rhizomes underground that are most commonly used. The flowers have pale yellow petals with purple edges.

Ginger is a tropical plant native to Asia’s hot, equatorial areas, and it has a long history in Asian cooking and herbal medicine (for at least 4,400 years!). Ginger was traded at great expense along the Silk Road throughout the Middle Ages; in the 14th century, a pound of ginger was worth as much as a whole sheep. Ginger was the first foreign spice to be grown in the “New World” (in 1585).

Ginger grown in the home garden in non-equatorial conditions is thinner-skinned and more flavorful than the thick-skinned, mature roots available at the grocery store. Because of the thinner skin, homegrown ginger doesn’t need to be peeled before use, with the trade off being that it won’t last as long on the shelf and should be preserved. 

For more information on how to grow ginger click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Ginger.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Ginger link.  


Lavender adds aroma and soft beauty to the garden and also has culinary and medicinal uses. Best seeded indoors (in late winter), lavender is planted outdoors in early spring. Learn how to plant, keep lavender plants in shape, propagate, and harvest/dry the flowers.

The commonly-cultivated lavender is the common or English lavender Lavandula angustifolia (formerly named L. officinalis) which is hardy to USDA Zone 5. A bushy perennial, lavender grows from 1 to 3 feet tall, bearing small blue-violet flowers on spikes with blue-green needle-like foliage. The oils in the flowers give the herb its distinctive balsam-like fragrance.

Called “English” lavender because it proliferates in the English climate, this plant’s main requirements are lots of sun and good drainage. It is not fussy about soil, and its presence lures bees, butterflies, and pollinators to the garden. Plant lavender along a walkway or near a seating area.

Interestingly, the name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means “to wash,” because it was used in baths to purify the body and spirit. Today, it’s often used in soaps and shampoos.

In addition, lavender has proven medicinal uses. When the essential oils are inhaled, lavender has calming properties that reduce anxiety; it’s also used as a gentle sedative for insomnia. In ancient times, lavender flowers were sewn into sachets to aid with sleeplessness.

Lavender is even useful in the kitchen in baking and drink recipes! Learn more below.

For more information on how to grow lavender click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Lavender.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Lavender link.  


Marjoram is a low-growing herb, perfect as a garden edging or planted in a container or window box. Here’s how to plant and grow marjoram in your garden!

In the kitchen, marjoram complements almost any meat, fish, dairy, or vegetable dish that isn’t sweet. 

For more information on how to grow marjoram click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Marjoram.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Marjoram link.  


Mint practically grows itself! Not only does mint add flavor to foods and tea, but also it’s useful for health remedies such as aiding digestion. All you need to do is confine this herb to keep it from spreading. See tips on planting, growing, and controlling mint.

Mint is a perennial herb with very fragrant, toothed leaves and tiny purple, pink, or white flowers. There are many varieties of mint—all fragrant, whether shiny or fuzzy, smooth or crinkled, bright green or variegated. However, you can always tell a member of the mint family by its square stem. Rolling it between your fingers, you’ll notice a pungent scent and think of candy, sweet teas, or maybe even mint juleps.

As well as kitchen companions, mints are used as garden accents, ground covers, air fresheners, and herbal medicines. They’re as beautiful as they are functional, and they’re foolproof to grow, thriving in sun and shade all over North America. Since mint can be vigorous spreaders, you simply have to be careful where you plant it.

For more information on how to grow mint click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Mint.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Mint link.  


Tarragon is a perennial herb with long, light green leaves and tiny greenish or yellowish white flowers. Here’s how to grow tarragon in your herb garden!

For cooking, use French tarragon. Russian tarragon can easily be mistaken for French, but Russian tarragon is coarser and less flavorful than French tarragon.

For more information on how to grow tarragon click the following hyperlink to Farmers Almanac Tarragon.

For other resources please click on Gardening Know How's Tarragon link.