Herb Growing Tips

Herbs are useful for cooking, crafting, and decorating -- coming out of the garden into your home. A separate herb garden is wonderful, but herbs can also be blended with flowers and vegetables in a kitchen or a cottage garden. You can also slip herbs in flower or shrub beds, or even into the plantings around your foundation.

Culinary Herb Gardens Image Gallery

Long pot of herbs
Plant commonly used culinary herbs in a clay planter by a
sunny kitchen window -- they'll be on hand when you need them.
See more pictures of culinary herb gardens.

Plan an herb garden before you plant. Some of the most charming herb gardens have formal beds or geometric patterns that show off the beauty of herbal foliage. Here are some examples, and some suggestions on how to grow them successfully:

Herbs for Light Soil
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Santolina
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Sweet fennel
  • Marjoram
  • Winter savory
  • Yarrow
  • Lamb's ears
  • Teucrium
  • German chamomile
  • Coriander
  • Sweet fennel
  • Sage
  • Hyssop
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Artemisias

Herbs for Moister Soil

  • Knot gardens interweave herbs with contrasting leaf color and textures into simple or intricate patterns, many of which are taken from embroidery schemes. Simple knot gardens can be made with two overlapping circles or squares set on a background of mulch or gravel. An easy way to make a knot is with annual herbs such as bush basil, summer savory, or sweet marjoram, or even annual flowers such as French marigolds or ageratum.

  • Formal herb gardens generally have symmetrical planting plans, with matched herbs on either side of the garden like reflections in a mirror.

  • Formal and patterned herb gardens often include neat, clipped edgings of boxwood, teucrium, santolina, thyme, winter savory, or other neat herbs suitable for shearing.

  • Provide sandy soil for herbs that need well-drained soil of moderate fertility. If kept in soil that's lean and light and drenched in hot sun, these herbs develop excellent flavor and stay free from disease.

  • If your soil is naturally sandy and well drained, you're in luck. If, instead, it's damp clay, raise the herb garden and add a 3-inch layer of coarse sand and 2 inches of compost to improve drainage. Avoid excessive use of fertilizers, especially those high in nitrogen.

  • Grow herbs that need light soil in pots. When planted in well-drained, peat-based potting mix, herbs such as thyme, lavender, and rosemary thrive -- and they look great.

In the next section, we'll talk about incorporating perennials as herbs in your garden.

Want more gardening tips? Try:

  • Gardening Tips: Learn great helpful hints for all of your gardening needs.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden.
  • Perennials: Choose great plants that will return year after year.
  • Gardening: Discover how to garden.