Herbs are a wonderful addition to any garden. They add fragrance, beauty, and, most importantly, flavor! Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting, herbs are a great way to add interest to your landscape.
With so many herbs, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin, but there are seven common, easy-to-grow herbs every gardener should consider planting.
Let’s look at the top seven herbs for your garden, complete with growing zones, ideal soil conditions, and sun requirements.
1. Basil (zones 2-11)
Basil is a fragrant annual herb that's easy to grow and adds delicious flavor to many dishes. It prefers well-draining soil and full sun.
Basil is best planted after the last frost and can be started 4-6 weeks indoors before planting. Regular pruning will encourage bushy growth and a longer harvest.
Basil comes in many varieties, including sweet basil, Thai basil, and lemon basil. Sweet basil is the most common variety and is perfect for making pesto or adding to salads.
Thai basil is slightly spicy and is used in many Southeast Asian dishes. Lemon basil has a citrusy flavor and is great for adding to drinks and desserts.
Recipe Suggestion: Caprese Salad with Homemade Basil Vinaigrette
2. Thyme (zones 4-9)
Thyme is a low-growing perennial herb with small, fragrant leaves perfect for flavoring meats, soups, and stews.
It prefers well-draining soil and full sun and can be grown from seed or cuttings. Thyme can also be grown in containers or as a ground cover.
There are many varieties of thyme, including lemon thyme, orange thyme, and silver thyme. Lemon thyme has a citrusy flavor and is great for adding to fish and chicken dishes.
Orange thyme has a sweet taste and is perfect for adding to desserts. Silver thyme has a subtle, earthy flavor and is great for adding to roasted vegetables.
Recipe Suggestion: Lemon and Thyme Roasted Chicken
3. Sage (zones 4-8)
Sage is a perennial herb with gray-green leaves and a woody stem. It's a popular herb for seasoning meats and sauces and is also used for medicinal purposes.
Sage prefers well-draining soil and full sun and can be propagated from cuttings or seeds.
Sage has several varieties, including common, purple, and pineapple. Common sage is the most popular variety and is great for adding to stuffings and sauces.
Purple sage has a strong, earthy flavor and is perfect for roasting meats. Pineapple sage has a sweet flavor and is great for adding to drinks and desserts.
Recipe Suggestion: Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto
4. Rosemary (zones 7-10)
Rosemary is a fragrant, woody perennial herb with needle-like leaves perfect for flavoring meats, vegetables, and bread. It prefers well-draining soil and full sun and can be propagated from cuttings.
Rosemary is also a great companion plant, as it can repel pests and attract beneficial insects.
Rosemary has many varieties, including Tuscan blue rosemary, spice island rosemary, and trailing rosemary. Tuscan blue rosemary has a strong flavor and is great for adding to roasted meats.
Spice Island rosemary has a spicy flavor and is perfect for adding to soups and stews. Trailing rosemary has a trailing habit and is great for hanging baskets.
Recipe Suggestion: Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
5. Chives (zones 3-10)
Chives are a versatile, perennial herb that adds a mild onion flavor to dishes. They prefer well-draining soil and full sun and can be propagated from seeds or by dividing established plants.
Chives can be grown in containers and are a great addition to a vegetable garden.
Chives have several varieties, including common chives, garlic chives, and onion chives. Common chives have a mild onion flavor and are great for adding to salads and baked potatoes.
Garlic chives have a garlic flavor and are perfect for adding to Asian dishes. Onion chives have a stronger onion flavor and are great for adding to soups and stews.
Recipe Suggestion: Creamy Chive and Onion Dip
6. Mint (zones 3-11)
Mint is a fragrant, fast-growing herb perfect for flavoring drinks and desserts. It prefers well-draining soil and partial shade and can be propagated from cuttings or roots. Mint can be invasive, so it's best grown in containers.
Mint has many varieties, including peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint. Peppermint has a strong minty flavor and is great for adding to teas and desserts.
Spearmint has a sweet taste and is perfect for adding to salads and cocktails. Chocolate mint has a chocolatey-mint flavor and is great for adding to desserts.
Recipe Suggestion: Mint Lemonade
7. Parsley (zones 4-9)
Parsley is a biennial herb with curly or flat leaves used as a garnish or in cooking. It prefers well-draining soil and partial shade and can be propagated from seeds.
Parsley is also a great companion plant, as it attracts beneficial insects. Parsley has two varieties, curly parsley, and flat-leaf parsley.
Curly parsley is great for garnishing and adds a subtle flavor to dishes. Flat-leaf parsley has a stronger flavor and is perfect for adding to sauces and soups.
Recipe Suggestion: Chimichurri Sauce for Grilled Steak or Vegetables
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Growing herbs in your garden is an excellent way to add flavor, fragrance, and beauty to your space. By planting these top seven herbs, you'll be well on your way to creating a successful herb garden.
Remember to follow the specific growing requirements for each herb, be bold and experiment with different varieties and flavors. With a little patience and care, you'll be able to enjoy fresh herbs all season long.