Herbs

By June 7, 2019

Herbs are generally used for flavoring and garnishing food and can be used for teas.

Let our team at Nick’s help guide you to finding the herbs you would want to grow in your garden this year.

Herbs on Table

Herbs that thrive in Colrado include:

Basil

Basil

Sweet Basil

(OCIMUM BASILICUM)

About this Herb

Basil is one of the most popular herbs gardeners grow because of its many uses in the kitchen, either fresh or dried. A tender annual in our region, basil can be a short-lived perennial in naturally hot and humid regions, like Asia where it originated. There are a number of different leaf shapes, sizes and colors to plant including Italian, Greek and frilly-leaved Purple.

How to Grow

Basil is an easy-to-grow and adaptable herb. It can be planted from seeds or transplants, in vegetable or flower beds and in containers. The aromatic leaves grow on plants that can reach 18 or more inches tall.

Prepare

Select a sunny to partial shady spot to grow basil, because in our region it does well with morning sun and afternoon shade. Full sun at our altitude can burn the tender leaves. Protect from areas with strong winds.

Amend the soil with compost to create a rich well-drained soil that can hold some moisture. As an alternative, plant in containers filled with potting soil. A granular slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil will give container plants a healthy start.

Plant

Plant basil after the danger of frost has passed and night-time temperatures are a reliable 55 degrees. Basil is one of the easiest herbs to start from seeds or buy and plant transplants.

Sow seeds according to package instructions, typically ¼ inch deep and about 12 inches apart. Seeds will sprout in about 8-10 days.

If planting basil plants, dig a hole as deep as the container, remove from the pot, place in the planting hole and firm soil around it.

Maintain

Basil is easy to maintain by making sure plants don’t wilt from dry soil. Keep up with fertilizing with a water soluble fertilizer every few weeks throughout the summer.

The plant will grow and flower on tall spikes. To make the most of the basil plant, pinch off the seed pods before they form flowers to keep the plant compact. Another method is to trim back the entire plant to about 6 inches and it will regrow.

(Be sure to use the clippings to top salads, make pesto or mix into scrambled eggs.)

Harvest

Basil planted from seeds will have leaves ready to pick or snip from the plant about six weeks after planting. Transplanted basil will be ready as soon as the leaves are large enough for using in recipes.

Basil will easily sprout roots if a cutting is placed in water. This method helps stretch out the basil harvest. Another way to extend the life of basil is to harvest it fresh, let it dry indoors and store in a tightly covered jar.

How to Use Basil in the Kitchen

The flavor of recipes will change depending on the type of fresh basil. Large-leafed Italian sweet basil is a favorite for all kinds of tomato dishes, pasta recipes and in fresh green or Caprese salads. Purple basil makes a beautiful garnish or can be used to flavor vinegar and liqueurs.

Companion Plants for Basil

Plant basil with these companions:

  • Most vegetables, especially lettuce and tomatoes
  • Most herbs, except rue

Materials for Basil Success

  • High-quality compost
  • Potting soil
  • Granular slow-release fertilizer
  • Water soluble fertilizer
  • Assorted varieties of basil seeds or transplants

Chervil

Chervil

(ANTHRISCUS CEREFOLIUM)

About this Herb

Gardeners who want to try their hand at French cooking, grow chervil. Its delicate flavor is used in recipes that range from soups to stews and salads. Some say the fern-like leaves have a flavor similar to parsley combined with fennel.

How to Grow

Chervil is a hardy annual herb that can grow in partial shade. Plants can grow to 24 inches tall and spread to about 1 foot wide. The plant makes a lovely addition to the garden with its finely cut, lacy leaves and tiny white flowers that bloom on tall flower stalks.

Prepare

Locate a spot in the vegetable or herb garden that gets partial shade. Prepare the soil with amendments to get a light, fertile soil that will retain moisture and not dry out. Chervil can also be grown in containers or patio pots filled with well-draining potting soil.

Plant

Plant chervil seeds in early spring while weather is still cool for a summer crop. Chervil can take a light frost. Plant seeds about ¼ inch deep and 1-2 inches apart. Cover lightly with soil and keep the seeds moist.

Once plants start to grow thin to allow plants to spread out.

Chervil can also be grown from transplants. Be sure to keep the plants watered, especially once weather turns hot. A layer of organic mulch, like straw, can help maintain soil moisture and keep weeds out of the garden.

Maintain

For a continuous harvest, plant seeds in successive sowings about 2 weeks apart until summer weather is too hot.

Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a high nitrogen fertilizer, like diluted fish emulsion. Don’t let the soil dry out or plants will become stunted.

Harvest

Once plants have about 10 leaves, start to clip a few leaves at a time. As plants grow, there will be more leaves to harvest. Fresh leaves can be clipped with scissors and used in cooking.

How to Use Chervil in the Kitchen

Chervil is one of the fines herbes of French cooking and mixes well with other herbs. Use the fresh leaves in potato salad, to top green salads or as a garnish in place of parsley. To make the most of chervil’s delicate flavor, wait until the end of cooking soups and stews before adding chopped chervil leaves and stems.

Companion Plants for Chervil

Plant basil with these companions:

  • Chives
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon

Materials for Basil Success

  • Soaker hose or other consistent watering method
  • High-quality compost or good quality potting soil
  • Chervil seeds or transplants
  • Organic mulch
  • High nitrogen fertilizer
  • Liquid fish emulsion

Chives

Chives

(ALLIUM SCHOENOPRASUM)

About this Herb

Chives are a perennial herb that can perform several duties in the garden. The leaves and flowers add an oniony flavor to cooking, but this herb can also be planted in perennial flower beds like an ornamental because of its tidy clumps of green leaves and purple flowers. An added bonus is the flowers attract bees to the garden.

How to Grow

Chives are adaptable plants and can grow just about anywhere, including container gardens. Once established, chives will return each spring, sometimes as the first greens that show up in the garden. Large groups of chives can be divided and replanted every few years for additional crops.

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot in the vegetable garden, flower garden or patio garden. Amend the soil so it’s rich, well-draining and can remain moist.

Plant

Chives can be planted from seeds either started indoors or directly sown in the garden. If starting indoors, plant chives seeds early in the season so they’ll be ready to transplant in spring.

If planting outside, be patient. Seeds take about 2-3 weeks to germinate. Sow seeds in clusters of several seeds about ¼ inch deep and 1inch apart. Keep seeds moist. When plants get several inches tall, thin to about 8 inches apart. Use the thinnings or replant in another spot.

Chives can also be planted as transplants from the garden center. Plant in moist soil and keep the soil evenly moist while plants are growing.

Maintain

Chives are one of the easiest herbs to maintain. Simply keep the soil moist and fertilize once or twice in summer with a general-purpose liquid soluble fertilizer.

Harvest

The long thin green leaves can start to be snipped when they’re about 6-8 inches long. Continue clipping the leaves at their base as needed. Purple clover-like flowers will form on the plants in late spring and early summer. The flowers can also be clipped and eaten.

After chives bloom, cut the entire plant back to about 2-3 inches tall and it will start to sprout tender new leaves.

How to Use Chervil in the Kitchen

Use chives as a flavoring or a garnish, including the purple flowers. Chop the fresh leaves and use as a finishing touch to egg dishes, sprinkle on baked potatoes, toss with olive oil and use on steamed vegetables, add to liquid for poaching fish, or any other recipe that needs a slight oniony flavor. The flowers are delicious on fresh green salads.

Companion Plants for Chervil

Plant chives with its fines herbes companions:

  • Chervil
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon

Materials for Chives Success

  • Soaker hose or other watering method
  • High-quality compost or potting soil
  • Chives seeds or transplants
  • Liquid soluble fertilizer

View Fact Sheet

Cilantro

Cilantro or Coriander

(CORIANDRUM SATIVUM)

About this Herb

In our region, cilantro is the herb known for its aromatic leaves and is used to flavor Mexican, Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. In other parts of the world, this same plant is called Chinese parsley or coriander—the name we give the dried seeds that are also used in cooking. No matter what it’s called, this annual herb is easy to grow.

How to Grow

In our region, cilantro is a fast-growing annual. It’s an attractive plant, but it’s known for going to seed quickly. Be prepared to sow seeds every few weeks to ensure a continuous harvest of fresh cilantro

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot in the vegetable garden, flower garden or the patio. A spot that gets afternoon shade will help reduce the plant from going to seed too quickly. Cilantro grows in fertile, well-drained soil. Amend the soil with compost or use a high-quality potting soil if growing in containers.

Plants will grow from 1-2 feet tall and can spread to about 10 inches, so plan on giving them plenty of room.

Plant

Soak cilantro seeds in water overnight and then plant in the garden while weather is cool in spring. Because cilantro grows so quickly, keep a steady supply by planting seeds in succession every few weeks.

Plant seeds ¼ inch deep and about 1-2 inches apart. If planting in rows, space plants about 8 inches apart. Keep soil moist and seeds will sprout starting in about 2 weeks. Thin seedlings to grow healthy plants.

Cilantro can also be grown from transplants, although plants may not grow as tall and may go to seed faster.

Maintain

Chives are one of the easiest herbs to maintain. Simply keep the soil moist and fertilize once or twice in summer with a general-purpose liquid soluble fertilizer.

Harvest

Use cilantro leaves like you would fresh parsley, clip a stem or pinch leaves off as you need them. If plants flower and produce seeds, collect theses seeds, dry them and use the coriander seedsin cooking, too.

How to Use Cilantro in the Kitchen

Use fresh cilantro leaves to flavor Mexican salsas, guacamole, tortilla wraps or top enchiladas and burritos. Fresh leaves are also good in Asian cooking such as noodle bowls or soups.

The dried coriander seeds are a main ingredient in Indian dishes, like curries.

Companion Plants for Chervil

Plant cilantro with these companions:

  • Most garden vegetables
  • Other culinary herbs like parsley, basil and chives

Materials for Chives Success

  • Soaker hose or other watering method
  • High-quality compost or high-quality potting soil
  • Cilantro seeds or transplants

View Fact Sheet

Dill

Dill

(ANETHUM GRAVELOENS)

About this Herb

Dill is an herb that serves multiple purposes in the garden. It’s an attractive plant in either the herb or flower garden, it grows fine, thread-like foliage that’s used as a delicious flavoring and it also produces large umbrella-like flower heads that produce dill seeds. Seeds can spread themselves and sprout to grow the next season.

How to Grow

In our region, dill is an adaptable and fast-growing plant that can reach three or more feet tall. Dill can be planted in spring for a summer crop. Unlike many other herbs, dill can tolerate slightly dry soil conditions.

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot in the herb, vegetable or ornamental garden. Dill can also grow well in large patio containers. Amend the soil to a well-draining rich soil or use a high-quality potting soil mix.

Plants will grow from 1-2 feet tall and can spread to about 10 inches, so plan on giving them plenty of room.

Plant

Dill can be started from seeds indoors, directly sown in the garden or planted as transplants from the garden center. Start seeds indoors early in spring and allow about 2 weeks for seeds to germinate. Wait for plants to be several inches tall before hardening off and planting.

Because dill can take a light frost, seeds can be sown into the garden or flower bed in early spring. Plant seeds about ¼ inch deep and 1-2 inches apart. If planting several rows make sure to leave rows 6-8 inches apart.

Dill transplants are also available at the garden center. Transplant and keep soil moist until plants become established.

Maintain

Dill needs room to grow, at least 12 inches between plants. Be sure to thin crowded plants so foliage will be thick and lush. If you want to ensure fresh dill leaves through the season, continue to sow seeds in spring, summer and fall.

Harvest

Clip and use fresh dill leaves as soon when plants are about 10 inches tall. Dill leaves can also be dried by snipping stalks and drying them on a screen or hanging them upside down to dry.

At the end of the season when seed heads start to form, harvest the plant and dry with a paper bag over the seed heads to collect the seeds as they fall from the flowers. If you let plants go to seed in the garden, those that fall to the ground may self-seed for the next season.

How to Use Dill in the Kitchen

Dill is one of the most popular herbs for all of its culinary uses, especially in pickling. Use dill’s fresh ferny fronds in dips, on fish, in dressings, vinegars, potato salads and many other recipes. Leave a few plants standing to self-seed in the garden for next season.

Companion Plants for Dill

Plant dill with these companions:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Onions

Materials for Chives Success

  • Soaker hose or other watering method
  • High-quality compost or high-quality potting soil
  • Dill seeds or plants

View Fact Sheet

Fennel

Fennel

Fennel

(FOENICULUM VULGARE)

About this Herb

Fennel is similar in looks to dill. Both herbs have feathery foliage, and they grow umbels of yellow flowers in summer. Fennel could be called a triple-duty plant because the fresh fronds, dried seeds and even the bulbs can all be used in cooking. To use the bulbs, be sure to plant bulbing varieties such as ‘Florence’, ‘Zefa Fino’ , ‘Perfection’ or ‘Trieste’.

How to Grow

In our region, fennel is grown as an annual, but is an herbaceous perennial plant in warmer zones. These herbs grow 3 or more feet tall in well-drained fertile soil.

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot and get started as soon as soil can be worked in spring. Fennel grown for bulbs needs a long season to grow and form. Amend the soil so it’s fertile and well-drained.

Plant

Wait for the danger of a hard frost to pass before planting fennel from seeds or transplants.

Sow seeds about ½ inch deep and about 4 inches apart. For large bulbs, thin plants so they have room to grow, about 10-12 inches apart. Rows should also be about 1 foot apart. Keep seeds moist because they take between 2-3 weeks to germinate.

Fennel transplants will help get a head start on growing. Be sure to plant in amended soil and keep moist.

Dill transplants are also available at the garden center. Transplant and keep soil moist until plants become established.

Maintain

Once plants start to grow, a layer of mulch will help keep soil cool and moist – the best conditions for growing the bulbs.

For good-quality bulbs, fertilize plants every 2-3 weeks using an all-purpose fertilizer or liquid fish emulsion solution.

Harvest

Keep track of the number of days (90 or more) until bulbs are mature and harvest when they’re fully formed. Trim the fronds to the base and carefully lift bulbs from the ground.

Save the fronds to use in cooking, too.

How to Use Fennel in the Kitchen

Fennel leaves have an fresh anise flavor that’s used in French cooking to flavor soups and sauces used in fish dishes. The seeds are popular for eating on their own, flavoring breads, pastries, candies, meats and Italian foods, too. Fennel bulbs can be quartered and braised as a side dish or diced and used in fresh salads or combined with sliced chicken for sandwiches.

Companion Plants for Dill

It’s best to plant fennel in its own garden spot. Avoid planting fennel close to dill because of cross pollination. Fennel also inhibits the growth of:

  • Bush beans
  • Kohlrabi
  • Tomatoes

Materials for Fennel Success

  • Soaker hose or other watering method
  • High-quality compost or high-quality potting soil
  • Bulbing varieties of fennel, either seeds or transplants
  • Organic mulch, like straw
  • General purpose fertilizer or liquid fish emulsion

View Fact Sheet

French Tarragon

Fennel

French Tarragon

(ARTEMISIA DRACUNCULUS)

About this Herb

French tarragon is a hardy perennial herb that originated in Russia, but is an essential ingredient in French cuisine. This fragrant culinary herb grows as a branching plant with many narrow leaves. The leaves are slightly sweet with an anise or licorice-like taste. When buying tarragon plants, be sure to purchase French tarragon and not Russian tarragon. The Russian tarragon (Artemisia drancuculoides) is bitter and has little flavor in cooking.

How to Grow

In our region, tarragon can be a perennial in the herb garden, vegetable bed or even the ornamental garden. It can grow to 2-3 feet tall and spread about 2 feet wide. In unprotected areas, use mulch to help plants handle cold weather. Tarragon grows in containers that can be brought inside to use during winter.

Prepare

Locate a sunny to partial shady spot in the garden and amend the soil so it’s light and well-drained. As an alternative, prepare patio containers with a quick-draining soil and mix in a granular slow-release plant fertilizer. Make sure the container has enough drainage holes to keep plant roots healthy.

Plant

French tarragon is grown from transplants. If planting several plants, space plants at least 3 feet apart or one plant per container.

Maintain

Keep soil moist, but don’t overwater or the plant will suffer and the leaves will lose their flavor. Fertilize once or twice during the season to encourage new growth.

For the best flavor, trim plants to keep them from flowering and going to seed.

Once established in the garden, plants will need to be pruned back to a few inches above the ground in early spring and perhaps again in summer.

Harvest

Clip and use tarragon leaves while they’re young and tender, and before flower heads form. Use leaves fresh and clip stems to hang and dry. Strip dried leaves from their stems and store in airtight containers.

How to Use Tarragon in the Kitchen

In addition to flavoring French cooking, tarragon flavors many other dishes. Use fresh to top green salads or add zing to potato salads. French tarragon is a delicious ingredient in flavored vinegars, homemade mayonnaise and mustard, used in poaching fish and roasting chicken. Mix together with the other traditional fines herbes used in French cuisine for omelets and soups.

Companion Plants for Tarragon

Plant tarragon with its fines herbes companions:

  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Parsley

Materials for Tarragon Success

  • High-quality compost
  • Quick-draining potting soil and containers
  • Granular slow-release fertilizer
  • Water soluble or general purpose fertilizer
  • French tarragon plants

View Fact Sheet

Lavender

Lavender

(LAVANDULA)

About this Herb

There are more than 20 species of lavender and each has its own special features. However, the leaves, flowers and seeds of this herb all have a sweet scent. Lavender essential oil, distilled from the fresh flowering tops, is used to make lotions, soaps, body scrubs, room sprays, candles and many other products. Lavender’s antiseptic and analgesic properties treat bee stings, burns, scrapes and poison ivy.

How to Grow

Lavender is a shrubby Mediterranean perennial plant that grows well in our region. Plants thrive in well-drained soils and can become fairly drought tolerant when established. The flowers are especially fragrant and the nectar is a favorite food source for bees.

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot in the ornamental garden or use as a border plant along sidewalks or paths. Amend the soil so it is light and will drain well. Lavender is also known for growing in poor, alkaline soils.

Plant

Wait for warm weather before planting lavender. Lavender can be planted from seeds, but most gardeners opt for planting transplants. It takes quite a bit of care and patience to start lavender from seeds. Even when planted from transplants, growth can be slow in the first few years.

Look for English and French lavenders that are hardy to Zone 5. These plants will be perennial, return each season and grow into short shrubs that can spread several feet in each direction.</p

Maintain

The first few seasons, lavender plants will need consistent moisture, but the soil shouldn’t be kept soggy or it will hurt plant roots.

Established lavender plants will freeze in winter and require trimming in spring. As new leaves begin to appear, cut the plant back to the live stems.

Harvest

As plants grow through the summer, harvest the fresh purple flowers that grow on tall spikes. Use in cooking or let the flowers dry on the stems. Then cut the stalks back to the foliage and flowers may bloom again.

How to Use Lavender in the Kitchen

Lavender flowers are used to flavor jams, cookies and even ice cream. Lavender is also an ingredient in herbes de Provence, a traditional blend of dried herbs that are used to season fish or chicken before grilling or to add to vegetable dishes during cooking.

Lavender is also a nice addition to sachets or potpourris and the dried flowers can be used for many different kinds of craft projects.

To add a French flair to meals, grow your own herbes de Provence by planting all the herbs in this traditional spice blend, including lavender. Mix the dried herbs together in equal amounts and use to season fish or chicken before grilling or add to vegetable dishes during cooking.

Companion Plants for Lavender

Plant lavender with these herbes de Provence companions:

  • Basil
  • Fennel
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary
  • Summer savory
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Materials for Lavender Success

  • Light soil amendment
  • Assorted varieties of lavender transplants
  • Organic mulch

View Fact Sheet

Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass

(CYMBOPGON CITRATUS)

About this Herb

Lemon grass is an aromatic clumping grass with long, blue-green leaf blades and a branched set of flowers. Native to India, lemon grass is an ornamental grass with leaves and stems valued for their citrus aroma and lemony flavor in recipes, especially Thai cooking.

How to Grow

In tropical regions lemon grass is a perennial plant, but in our region this herb is grown as a tender annual. Because lemon grass is a tropical plant, it needs warm weather and moist soils. A good alternative is to plant lemon grass in containers that can be brought inside before the first frost of the season.

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot that can accommodate this herb that grows 2-3 feet tall and just as wide. Prepare a spot with rich, well-amended soil that’s also well-drained.

Plant

Lemon grass can be started from seeds, but it require some patience. Most gardeners opt for lemon grass transplants to get a head start on the season. If planting in a container, make sure it’s large, like a 5 gallon bucket, to support a mature plant.

Wait for night-time temperatures to be a reliable 55 degrees before planting lemon grass or moving containers of lemon grass outside.

Space plants at least 2 feet apart because they can grow that wide during the summer.

Add a layer of organic mulch, like straw or dry untreated grass clippings to help maintain soil moisture.

Maintain

Lemon grass needs to have moist soil to encourage growth. Don’t let roots dry out. A layer of organic mulch, like straw, will help maintain soil moisture (even in containers).

Feed plants every few weeks with a liquid plant food or diluted fish emulsion solution.

Harvest

When lemon grass leaves are at least 12 inches long and the stalk is about 1 ½ inches around, cut them to the bottom of the stem. Prepare for cooking by removing the tough outer portion of the stalk.

To overwinter lemon grass, dig up a few stems and cut the leaves to several inches tall. Repot the stems in a smaller container. Place in a sunny window and keep soil moist.

How to Use Lemon Grass in the Kitchen

Fresh lemon grass leaves can be used to make tea or infuse citrus flavor in vodka, but they are too tough to eat. The stalk is the part of the plant that gets used in cooking. Because the outer layer of the lemon grass stalk is fibrous, be sure to peel to reach the soft, light yellow portion inside. Slice thin or chop fine before adding to a recipe like a marinade, stir fry dish, soup or tea.

Companion Plants for Lemon Grass

Plant lemon grass with these companions:

  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Sage

Materials for Lemon Grass Success

  • High-quality compost
  • Potting soil and a large container
  • One or more lemon grass transplants
  • Organic mulch

View Fact Sheet

Mint

Mint

Mint

(MENTHA)

About this Herb

Mint has gotten a bad reputation from gardeners for its creeping habit that has a way of taking over a garden. The most popular mints to grow for the kitchen are spearmint and peppermint, but pineapple mint, sweet mint, chocolate mint and lemon mint are delicious, too. People have enjoyed mint’s essential oils for hundreds of years, and bees are also attracted to the sweet nectar mint flowers produce.

How to Grow

There are ways to grow mint so it doesn’t overwhelm the garden. One way is to grow mint on its own in a garden space where this perennial spreading herb is welcome or where nothing else seems to grow. Another way to control mint’s habit is to plant in containers, whether they’re intact on the patio or with the mint planted in bottomless containers sunk into the garden soil. This prevents mint runners from spreading.

Prepare

Locate a sunny to semi-shaded spot in the garden. Mint plants thrive in fertile, moist soil, although plants can become drought-tolerant once established. For a thriving mint crop, amend the soil so it’s well-draining. However, mint isn’t fussy and it will grow in difficult soil conditions.

Plant

It’s easy to get mint established in the garden by planting from transplants or cuttings. Wait until night-time temperatures reach a reliable 50 degrees before planting in the garden.

Dig a planting hole and place the mint plants in the soil as deep as they are in their containers. Firm soil over the roots and water in. Plants will spread so space plants about 12-18 inches apart or plant one plant in a large container.

Maintain

Mint is one of the easiest plants to grow because it requires little care. For a more vigorous crop, keep up with watering and fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer once a month while plants are actively growing.

Harvest

Mint leaves can be clipped or picked from plants while they’re growing. For larger kitchen uses, cut stems before plants start to flower in summer. Simply snip a stem several inches from the ground. There can be several harvests before the end of the season.

Small stems of mint can be repotted and brought inside to use in the kitchen over winter.

How to Use Mint in the Kitchen

Most mints are used to sweeten all kinds of recipes, whether used fresh or dried. Favorite uses include mint sauce, mint jelly, mint juleps and mojitos. Mint is also used to flavor candies, ice cream, liqueurs, to sprinkle on fruit salads and steep into a naturally sweet tea.

Companion Plants for Mint

Plant mint with these companions:

  • Other mint varieties
  • Culinary herbs like oregano, basil, parsley
  • Annual flowers or perennial ornamentals

Materials for Mint Success

  • High-quality compost
  • Potting soil and containers
  • Assorted mint types like spearmint and peppermint

View Fact Sheet

Oregano

Oregano

Oregano

(ORIGANUM VULGARE)

About this Herb

Oregano is an essential herb for any gardener who likes to cook Italian, Greek or Mexican cuisine. This flavorful herb is enjoyed fresh or dried for its leaves that have a pungent and powerful peppery flavor. The plant is a bushy perennial in warm climates, and its flowers are especially attractive to bees and other insects.

How to Grow

In our region, oregano is typically planted in an herb garden, but it makes for a nice ornamental plant, too. Hardy to our zone, oregano can take some frost, so it’s a good three season plant from early spring until fall. Oregano also grows well in containers.

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot for planting oregano. Gardeners can choose whether to amend the soil to create a rich, well-drained soil for oregano. Once established, oregano is an herb that doesn’t need pampering and prefers soil that’s on the dry side to keep roots healthy.

Plant

Plant oregano seeds indoors in early spring or outside once the spring weather has warmed. Read seed packets carefully for planting instructions. Oregano has tiny seeds that need contact with the soil, but some varieties don’t need to be covered. Keep soil moist with a light sprinkling, but don’t dislodge the seeds. Be patient, seeds may take 2-3 weeks to sprout.

A faster alternative is to plant oregano transplants. Be sure to acclimate them to the warm spring weather before planting. Dig a planting hole as deep as the container and firm soil around plant roots. Keep soil moist; a layer of organic mulch will help maintain moisture and keep weeds down.

Maintain

Oregano is a low-maintenance plant. Let the soil dry slightly between waterings. Pinch back plants to encourage branching and be sure to use the leaves in recipes.

An occasional fertilizing through the summer with a general-purpose fertilizer will keep plants green and healthy.

Harvest

Keep harvesting oregano leaves as plants are growing and before plants start to bloom in summer. The leaves are most flavorful after plants have had a chance to grow into mid-summer. For a big harvest, cut plants down, leaving the last several inches of stem and lowest set of leaves.

An alternative is to let plants bloom to attract bees and other pollinators into the garden.

How to Use Oregano in the Kitchen

Oregano can be used fresh, dried or even frozen. Use dried oregano in pizza and spaghetti sauces, mix into scrambled eggs, sprinkle on top of meat dishes, use it to flavor soups and stews. Fresh oregano adds new character to ordinary green salads and steamed vegetables.

Companion Plants for Oregano

Plant oregano with these companions:

  • Other herbs like basil, thyme, parsley, mint, and marjoram
  • In the ornamental garden with flowering perennials

Materials for Oregano Success

  • Watering can and soaker hose
  • High-quality compost
  • Potting soil and containers
  • Oregano seeds or transplants

View Fact Sheet

Parsley

Parsley

(PETROSELINUM)

About this Herb

Parsley is one of the most easily identifiable herbs because it’s been used as a garnish for years. But there’s more to parsley than decorating a plate. This herb adds fresh flavor to many dishes or makes a delicious soup or sauce on its own. Plant a few different varieties of both the curled parsley and flat-leaf or Italian parsley.

How to Grow

Parsley can be grown in the herb garden, vegetable garden, container garden and even the ornamental garden. Curled parsley makes a nice border plant along sidewalks or the edges of the perennial garden, too. Parsley is a biennial plant, but in our region it’s planted and grown as an annual.

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot and amend to create a rich, moisture-retaining soil. Unlike many other herbs, parsley needs nitrogen fertilizer to grow its deep green leaves.

Parsley can grow from seed started indoors or from transplants. Parsley seeds can test the patience of gardeners because seeds germinate slowly (as long as 4 weeks) and unevenly. To help seeds germinate faster, soak them in lukewarm water overnight before planting.

Plant

Most gardeners opt to plant parsley transplants to help get a faster start. Place plants about 8-12 inches apart to allow for them to spread; plants may grow as tall as 1 foot.

Plant plenty of parsley – more than you think you’ll need. Parsley is a favorite food of the parsley worm caterpillar, the one that grows into swallowtail butterflies. The parsley worm caterpillar won’t kill the plant, but will enjoy a good deal of leaves.

Parsley is slightly frost tolerant so it can be planted in early spring. Place transplants in the garden, water in and apply a layer of mulch (like straw). Mulch will help keep the soil cool and moist, just make sure to keep mulch away from the crown of the plant.

Maintain

Keep up with watering parsley and feed with a general purpose, water soluble fertilizer about once a month through the season.

Harvest

Parsley leaves can start to be clipped once the leaves are large enough to use in cooking. Clip a few leaves from the outside of the plant, a few at a time to allow the plant to keep on growing.

How to Use Parsley in the Kitchen

Parsley is good to use fresh at the end of cooking, to toss with green and potato salads or to mix into an omelet. Dried parsley is best used in foods with longer cooking times, like soups or sauces. Experiment using parsley with other herbs to extend its uses in the kitchen.

Companion Plants for Parsley

Plant parsley with these companions:

  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Marjoram
  • Tarragon

Parsley can also be mixed into flower gardens and rose beds

Materials for Parsley Success

  • Soaker hose or other watering method
  • High-quality compost
  • Good quality potting soil and containers
  • Parsley seed or transplants (plus extras for the parsley worm caterpillar)
  • Water soluble plant fertilizer

Rosemary

Rosemary

Rosemary

(ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS)

About this Herb

The herb known as rosemary is actually a perennial evergreen shrub in warm weather climates (zones 8-10). For hundreds of years, rosemary has been used as a medicinal cure for health problems from headaches to dandruff. Gardeners who grow rosemary today use the savory herb’s aromatic dark green, needle-like leaves to add an earthy flavor to all kinds of recipes.

How to Grow

Rosemary is a member of the mint family, but has little in common with its relative. In warmer climates, like its native Mediterranean, rosemary can be trained to grow into a dense hedge.

In our region, rosemary can grow to 3 feet tall and just as wide when planted in the garden. Rosemary can also grow in a container planting, which makes it convenient for bringing inside during winter and training into a topiary

Prepare

Locate a sunny spot that’s slightly sheltered because rosemary can be a finicky annual when conditions are less than ideal. This herb prefers warm, dry soil so if you need to amend to add fertility make sure the soil drains well to keep roots from rotting.

If growing in containers, make sure the container is large enough and has holes for drainage. Use a quick-draining potting mix for containers and mix in a slow-release fertilizer before planting.

Plant

It’s difficult to start rosemary from seeds, so most gardener opt for planting transplants. Wait for the night-time temperatures to warm to a consistent 50-55 degrees before planting.

Give rosemary plants room to grow, spacing between 24-36 inches apart. Plants prefer soil that’s kept on the dry side. Avoid soggy soil for healthier plants.

Maintain

Keep up with moderate watering and watch for any problems associated with too much water, such as wilting or yellowing leaves.

Feed about once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer to keep the plant healthy and growing its fragrant dark green leaves.

Harvest

Parsley leaves can start to be clipped once the leaves are large enough to use in cooking. Clip a few leaves from the outside of the plant, a few at a time to allow the plant to keep on growing.

How to Use Rosemary in the Kitchen

Rosemary adds depth and flavor to recipes, whether used fresh or dried. This aromatic herb flavors vinegars and butters, can be used in marinades and rubs for grilling, is good added to meat, fish, pasta and vegetable dishes, and adds a surprising new taste to breads, soups and stews.

Companion Plants for Rosemary

Plant rosemary with these companions:

  • Other fragrant herbs like sage, lavender and tarragon
  • In the perennial garden bed as an accent plant
  • In the vegetable garden with beans, cabbages and carrots

Materials for Rosemary Success

  • High-quality compost
  • Quick-draining potting soil and containers
  • Slow-release granular fertilizer
  • Water soluble fertilizer
  • Rosemary transplants

View Fact Sheet

Sweet Marjoram

Sweet Marjoram

Sweet Marjoram

(ORIGANUM MARJORANA)

About this Herb

Sweet marjoram (or just marjoram) is a tender perennial plant native to the Mediterranean. The flavorful leaves have a sweet floral scent with a taste somewhere between thyme and oregano. Sweet marjoram is used to season a variety of dishes from soups to stews; salads to sauces, and it makes an aromatic tea. The shrub-like plant has small pointed gray-green leaves and it also produces small flowers.

How to Grow

Sweet marjoram is grown as an annual in cold-climates like zone 5. While some gardeners prefer to grow this culinary herb in patio containers, it makes a nice spreading groundcover along borders or in the ornamental garden for the season.

Prepare

Like other herbs, sweet marjoram is adaptable to a variety of soil conditions. However, plants do best in sun to light-shade and planted in amended, well-draining soil.

If planting in containers, plan for a large enough pot for a plant that can grow 12-24 inches tall and about 18 inches wide. Make sure the container has drainage holes and fill it with a quick-draining potting soil. Also make sure the container can be easily moved to bring inside to overwinter.

Plant

Because sweet marjoram is a warm-weather plant, wait until spring night-time temperatures are a reliable 50-55 degrees before planting. Then plant sweet marjoram from transplants to get the fastest start on the growing season.

Space plants in the garden bed about 12-18 inches apart or plant in an easy-to-move container for the patio garden.

Maintain

Keep plants watered, but allow soil to dry between waterings. The roots will suffer if plants are overwatered. Feed with a general-purpose fertilizer once or twice through the season to keep plants healthy. Sweet marjoram grows tubular pink or white flowers in the summer that start out looking like little knots or bumps on the stems.

Harvest

Give sweet marjoram plants a chance to get established before clipping leaves, about 4 weeks after planting. Clip leaves to use in cooking as needed and plan to dry some leaves because they hold their flavor well.

How to Use Sweet Marjoram in the Kitchen

Use fresh leaves to flavor soups, stews and fish dishes. Sweet marjoram adds depth to fresh salads and steamed vegetables like carrots, beans, peas and spinach. When dried, mix together with other dried herbs to create the tasty fines herbes mixture used in French cooking.

Companion Plants for Sweet Marjoram

Plant sweet marjoram with these companions:

  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon

Materials for Sweet Marjoram Success

  • High-quality compost
  • Quick-draining soil and large container
  • All-purpose granular or water soluble fertilizer
  • Sweet marjoram plants

Contact us or stop by the Garden Center and we’ll help you find the right herbs for your garden this summer!

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