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Herb Growing Tips

Herb Garden Tips

Planting herbs is a great way to enrich your garden. Here are some tips that will help you make the best of your herb garden.

  • Plant more parsley, dill, and fennel than you think you will use to attract swallowtail butterflies. The beauty of the butterflies and fun of watching the caterpillars develop can be worth the foliage that they eat.

  • Harvest perennial herbs as they develop flower buds. This is the time when the fragrant and flavorful oils in the plants are at their peak of intensity, providing a gourmet experience. Because fresh herbs taste so good, even at other times of the growing season, it's perfectly acceptable to continue harvesting whenever you feel the urge. In cold climates, however, hardy perennial herbs need a break from heavy harvesting beginning 45 days before the first frost in order to prepare for winter.

    Bricks in an herb garden
    Removing bricks in a garden path
    makes way for low-growing herbs.

  • Restrain rampant herbs like mint and bee balm so they can't take over the garden. These plants need firm limits to keep them in their proper place.

  • Plant rampant herbs in large plastic pots with the bottom removed and the top rim emerging an inch or two above the soil surface. The container will slow down spreading growth enough so you can see trouble before it spills over the edge. Cut back any errant sprouts and use them for tea or to garnish a fruit salad. Divide to renew the chastised plant every year or two.

  • Pinch back annual herbs, such as basil, to keep them from blooming. If allowed to channel energy into seed production, the foliage will grow skimpy and so will your harvest. Pinching off the shoot tips from time to time provides sprigs for herbal vinegars and pestos and inspires the plant to grow back bushier than ever.

  • Remove a few bricks in a garden path to make places for low-growing thyme or oregano. Either herb will thrive in this warm, well-drained location and will give a charming natural look and wonderful fragrance to the walkway.

  • Plant a collection of commonly used culinary herbs in a clay planter by a sunny kitchen window. They will be right at hand when you need them.

  • Culinary herbs are a mainstay of most herb gardens. The garden-fresh flavors of thyme, basil, savory, oregano, and marjoram are incomparable. You can also grow gourmet varieties of these classics -- lemon thyme, cinnamon basil, and Sicilian oregano, for example -- to add to your cooking pleasure. You can also include herbal teas, such as stomach-soothing peppermint and calming chamomile.

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.