Growing herbs is super satisfying because not only are they beautiful, but they're useful as well. We use herbs in cooking, homemade medicinals, teas, even soaps, and other cosmetics. And if you've ever bought fresh herbs from the grocery store, you know they can get expensive. So why not start your own herb garden? We've put together a list of 18 useful herbs that do well in full sun for containers or garden beds alike.
18 Herbs That Like Full Sunshine
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is a deliciously aromatic herb much loved for all sorts of cooking. We love it in Italian food and dusted over focaccia bread. This woody, perennial herb has aromatic needles that grow on bushy shrubs. It works equally well in containers or planted in your beds. It does like full sun and warm climates, so if you're cooler than zone 7, you'll need to pot it in a container and move it to a sunny window during cooler months.
Mint (Mentha) is a hardy and vigorous perennial that is used as ground covers and garden accents as well as grown for medicinal and kitchen uses. Perhaps known best for its spearmint flavor, mint is delicious in teas or cocktails like mint juleps. If you love to eat lamb, mincing some mint to put into your meat's seasoning is absolutely delicious.
Mint plants love full sun and some varieties even flower. Be sure to plant them a couple of feet apart as mint plants will spread out and grow quite large. They like moist spots that simulate their native creek bank environments.
This culinary herb kit lets you get started with mint, basil, and cilantro. It's such an easy way to start a windowsill garden and comes with everything you need.
Thyme (thymus) is another aromatic perennial herb used in many kitchens. Thyme is thought to have antibacterial, insecticidal, and possibly antifungal properties and was even used for embalming at one point.
This evergreen herb is easy to grow in containers as well as an herb garden. It likes full sun and relatively dry soil that mimics its native Mediterranean region.
Sage (Salvia Officinalis) is a low shrub with soft, grey-green foliage. This herb can be grown in container gardens or in your garden beds and is best known for its lovely aromatic smell. Commonly used for cooking, sage is also known for its cleansing properties and will often be sold in dried bundles that are lit and used to "smudge" bad feelings and juju from homes and property.
Sage likes full sun and well-drained soil. It grows as a perennial in zones 5-8, but any further south it grows as an annual only.
Dried sage bundles like these are used to clear out "bad juju" in places. You can dry your homegrown sage and tie into bundles like the ones seen here.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an easy to grow culinary herb. Whether you're using it in pesto or making tomato and basil salads with fresh mozzarella cheese, this herb is a must-have for every kitchen gardener. It grows easily in containers and garden beds, but must be clipped back regularly before blooming or it will go to seed and get too leggy.
There are several different types of basil, with sweet basil being the most commonly used in Italian cooking. But if you're going to plant some basil, you might grow some Thai basil, too.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a beautiful addition to an herb garden or perennial bed. The plants have slender stalks (the part we use in our cooking) and bloom with gorgeous pale purple flowers. Chive seeds may be sown directly into your garden soil in the spring after chances of frost are past. They can also be started in pots a bit earlier.
Chives thrive in full sun and need minimal maintenance other than an occasional watering if the soil gets too dry.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a perennial herb with a taste similar to thyme. It's one of the mainstays of Italian seasonings but has also been used for medicinal purposes over the years. Once the bushes have topped about 4", you'll want to start pinching back the leaves to encourage bushier and fuller growth.
Because it's a plant with origins in the drier Mediterranean climates, it needs less water than some other herbs. And of course, like all of our herbs featured here, it loves the sun.
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is a robust herb with a peppery flavor. Use it in salad dressings and vinegar. Though you can start it from seed, it's easier to grow tarragon from a small starter plant and transfer it into your herb garden. It's not the prettiest plant with its fuzzy long leaves, but it will make up for that with its gorgeous smell.
These hardy plants will survive in most soil types as long as it gets full sun.
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is best known for its sweet licorice flavor and odor. Chew the seeds to cure bad breath and steep the leaves into tea. The seeds are added to loaves of bread, cakes, cookies, applesauce, soups, and beverages. When coated with candy, they’re a favorite condiment in Europe, and they’re the source of flavor in the famous liqueur anisette.
The plant grows to about 2' in height and has tiny yellow and white flowers in mid-summer. These are followed by the fruit called aniseed, where the flavorful seeds reside for harvest.
Pure anise oil is one of the products harvested from the anise plant. This concentrated licorice flavor is wonderful for baking and making candies.
The Chamomile plant (Chamaemelum nobile) is most commonly used for teas. Chamomile is a calming herb and helps with sleep and general relaxation. Chamomile is used for many ailments including hay fever, menstrual disorders, inflammation, insomnia, muscle spasms, gastrointestinal disorders, and rheumatic pain. Apply it to the skin for inflammations and skin diseases.
It's a member of the daisy family and gets lovely white and yellow flowers on the body of the plant. Of course, it loves full sun and moist soil.
No time to grow your own? You can buy organically grown chamomile flowers to make your own tea here.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is another herb that has a licorice-like flavor. In the Middle Ages, fennel was thought to hold magic and people hung the plants over their doors to drive away evil spirits. Now, fennel is most often used in recipes to add that bit of licorice flavor to food.
The plant has lovely frond-like feathery leaves and a long taproot. It's easiest to plant fennel from seed. Plants will begin to flower about 90 days after planting.
Calendula or pot marigolds (Calendula Officinalis) are cheery flowers that are edible and can be used to add bright color to salads. In salves, lip glosses, and balms, they help with minor skin irritations.
Calendula likes fertile and well-drained soil, but overall is a very forgiving plant to grow. If you deadhead the flowers frequently, they won't go to seed and you'll have blooms through most of the growing season.
13. St. Johns Wort
St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a well-known medicinal herb. It's used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, disinfectant, and a remedy for disorders of the respiratory tract and the gallbladder. In teas, it's been used for anxiety, depression, and other sedative treatments.
The plant grows well in well-drained soils. It prefers drier soil to wet soils, and like our other herbs love the sun. It blooms early in the summer with lovely yellow blooms.
St. Johns Wort can be bought dried for making into medicinals. But if you grow it, you can dry your own.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a distinctly flavored herb. It is commonly used in pickles, soups, and stews.
The plant is lovely with feathery fronds for leaves. If you let the flowers go to seed, your dill should come back year after year. It also attracts pollinators which is a bonus in any garden. Sew your seeds directly into your garden in full sun. Replant throughout the summer to keep fresh dill for the whole season.
Echinacea, or coneflower, has gorgeous purple flowers and is used for healing the common cold. It's a perennial that will grace your garden year after year and grow 2-3' tall stalks with abundant purple flowers. They are low water plants, so they can tolerate less water than some other perennial herbs.
Echinacea thrives in full to partial sun. Plants need at least four hours of sunlight per day. The plants grow natively along the edges of woodlands, so they will thrive in spots with morning shade or afternoon sun.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial herb related to ginger. It doesn't have typical seeds but has rhizome nodules or fingers that are planted much like bulbs. These fingers are harvested for medicinal and herbal uses. Therefore it's important to not harvest the entire bulb. Save some for next year's plants.
Turmeric is used as a spice in cooking but has also become a popular supplement for joint pain and mobility. Turmeric can be grown outside year-round in USDA zones 8 and higher, in the ground or in containers. For cooler climates, it will need to move indoors for the winter.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is best known for its use as a low-glycemic natural sweetener. Grow it in containers or directly in the ground. This warmth-loving plant is more of an annual in most parts of the US as it prefers a hot climate and well-draining soil. As for harvesting the leaves for use, the leaves taste best before the plant blooms and are sweetest in the cool of autumn.
Want to grow your own Stevia? This pack of 50 seeds is a bargain.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is commonly used as an herb for sleep disorders and insomnia. The roots are ground into capsules that are sold as supplements at natural food stores and the like. The plant has a lovely wildflower look with leggy stalks and flowers reminiscent of Queen Ann's lace. They love the sun and well-drained soil.
Growing herbs is super satisfying. They are beautiful and practical plants. Use them for cooking or making home remedies. We hope you run out and get several of these to add to your garden.
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