Gardening

Planting and Growing Herbs

Using fresh herbs in your recipes make dinners amazing! Learn all about the most popular herbs to grow in this how to guide on planting and growing herbs.

A how to guide on planting and growing herbs

People have been planting and growing herbs for centuries, not only to add flavor to fresh home cooked meals, but also for medicinal purposes as well. Herbs are still very popular today and used in many different ways. Some herbs are used to bring unique flavors to drinks while others are used in potpourri, sachets and dried arrangements.

Herbs are well known for being somewhat low maintenance and for their natural resistance to pests. An herb is any plant that is considered useful, however it isn’t all about function. Sometimes herbs are grown specifically because they make beautiful decorative plants.

Most Popular Herbs

Usually when we start thinking of planting and growing herbs, we focus on the most popular ones, such as basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, and mint. Basil is great for soups and salads as well as sauces. I always add a dash of basil to my spaghetti sauce when cooking to give it a little extra flavor. Basil is also an excellent choice to add to meats such as fish and poultry.

Chives give us that mild onion flavor and taste amazing in salads and as a topping for baked potatoes. Egg and cheese dishes as well as mashed potatoes taste even more delicious when chives get involved.

Mint is an herb that is often added to cold drinks for a splash of refreshing flavor and the leaves can also be brewed right into teas.

Planting and growing herbs - mint and lemon water

Planting and Growing Herbs

Most herbs require at least 6 hours of sunlight each day with some needing up to 8 hours each day. Herbs need just enough water to thrive, but not too much because their roots will rot in moist soil. Try planting and growing herbs in raised beds or planters to prevent these issues.

Where to get the plants

Annual herbs are best when they are grown from seeds, but make sure to read the seed packet before planting for important information. Herbs that are easy to grow from seeds include basil, dill, cilantro, and parsley.

Perennial herbs are slow growers, so it is best to buy these at a nursery or get them by dividing existing plants. Using a garden fork, dig up the roots of the pant and pull them apart by hand or cut them into several pieces. Herbs that grow well with division include thyme, chives, oregano, and bee balm.

Another great way to get herbs is from cuttings. When plants are healthy and strong, cut the stems at an angled cut and plant in a pot of soil that is already moist. Cover the cuttings with a plastic bag loosely and place them away from direct sunlight. If there’s too much moisture, remove the plastic bag. Once the plants are rooting well, replant them into larger containers.

Herbs that grow well with cuttings include lavender, mint, thyme, sage and oregano.

Lindsay from Shrimp Salad Circus has a great article on how to grow Basil from cuttings. She tells us how to grow 10 plants from 1!

how to grow basil from cuttings

Growing herbs in containers

If you have limited space or poor draining soil, planting and growing herbs in containers such as pots and planters is a good option. Perennials can be grown all year in pots as long as they are brought in during the fall season.

When planting and growing herbs in containers, use good quality potting soil that also has proper draining qualities. Typical garden soil does not do well in containers because it does not drain well. Herbs require regular fertilization during their growing season. Frequent watering is also required as long as you don’t water too much.

Growing indoors

Remember that herbs need at least 6 hours of bring sunlight! If you plan to grow herbs indoors, consider putting them on windowsills that offer the most light. You may want to think about investing in HID grow lights if your home does not offer enough natural light.

Read more about having a windowsill herb garden with Kris from Attainable Sustainable.

Windowsill Herb Gardening

Harvesting and Storage

Harvesting herbs is fairly easy because you just snip off what you want and that’s it! If you want just the leaves from herbs such as mint or basil, make sure to harvest them before they flower. Herbs grown from seeds can be harvested when their seed pods change color.

Consistent harvesting and pruning cause many herbs to grow better. Herbs that thrive better with regular pruning include mint, chives, basil, parsley, and oregano.

It’s best to wait to harvest herbs until right before you need them because the oils are fragile and break down quickly. However, some herbs will be okay in the refrigerator for about a week or so (chives, rosemary, thyme). For longer storage options, drying herbs is the best way to go because it gives herbs the best flavor retention and they can be kept for 2-3 years. Freezing herbs is also another way to store herbs for later use.

Chef Markus Mueller teaches us about harvesting and storing rosemary in a very informative article on how to grow rosemary.

planting and growing herbs - container gardening

Planting and growing herbs is not a difficult task and there are so many benefits for growing your own. Just remember to water them often and make sure they have proper drainage so their roots don’t rot. Don’t forget that they need a lot of sunlight as well. Keeping these tips in mind when planting herbs will allow you to have fresh herbs year round.

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Want more gardening tips? Check out these great posts:
All About Window Box Gardening
Vertical Gardening
Pro Tips for Potted Plants
5 Indoor Plants That Are Hard to Kill

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33 thoughts on “Planting and Growing Herbs”

  1. I love growing and cooking with my herbs, and I am very successful with most, but for some reason, I can not keep cilantro alive for more than a few weeks, so frustrating!

    1. That is frustrating when they die quicker than expected. I’ve read that it grows faster in the spring so you’ll have to harvest it more than most herbs. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been trying to grow herbs for years now but to no avail – I just don’t have a green thumb. However, you have shared some interesting tips in here that got me thinking – maybe I should just give it another go!

    – Nyxie

  3. I love fresh herbs, but I don’t always know which herbs will go with which foods, so I don’t think to add them! You have some great suggestions here. Thanks for the growing tips too – I haven’t had a lot of success with growing herbs in the past!

  4. Aren’t herbs amazing? We have thyme, cilantro and a few others growing in our garden at the moment. We adore them. Your article gives excellent advice for the occasional challenges you might face when growing them. I love it. β™₯

    There truly is nothing like cooking with fresh cut herbs. Mmm mmm mmm. πŸ™‚ Have a beautiful day, Michelle!

  5. This is such a great and helpful guide and advice for growing herbs! Herbs are great especially when you can grow them yourself, my family and I have been growing and sourcing our own herbs and veg as much as possibly can for as long as I can remember.

    1. That’s great! Anything you can possible grow yourself is wonderful. I think it tastes better. πŸ˜€

    1. I’m so glad you saw it then! πŸ˜€ They are definitely good to have and fun to work with. πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for all the great tips here, Michelle–especially about how to grow more herbs from cuttings! I’ve got to try that this season with my lavender.

  7. I have rosemary, sage, basil and I’m trying to grow parsley too…all in my balcony. All are ok except the parsley…it is very difficult to grow because of the hot weather from Singapore 😊

    1. I’m glad everything is growing great for you! It’s nice to have a place to plant a few things you can use. πŸ™‚

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