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Growing Herbs

Herbs in the Garden

Herbs are a special group of plants used for flavoring and scents. Many herbs used in flavoring foods and teas (culinary herbs) can be grown in Mississippi gardens. Most herbs should be grown in full sun, but a few tolerate light shade. They prefer a well-drained soil of medium fertility with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. An organic mulch in summer benefits the plants.

Herbs that can be grown in Mississippi are annuals that are planted every year, biennials that are planted in the fall and flower the following year, hardy perennials that come back year after year, and tender perennials that may survive a mild winter but often need to be treated as annuals or protected from freezing temperatures.

You can start most popular herbs from seeds. Many of the perennial herbs are propagated by stem cutting, layering, or crown divisions. Annual, and some perennial, herb plants are sold at nursery and garden centers, and seeds and plants are offered by many mail order catalog companies.

Because herbs are used in very small amounts, just a few plants of each type may be enough. If you want a large quantity of a particular herb, such as sweet basil for making pesto, plant the herb in the vegetable garden. Otherwise, prepare a small area especially for herbs so that they can be enjoyed for their appearance as well as fragrance.

Herbs have few pests, which is good because there are few if any pesticides approved for use on these plants. When planting herbs in the vegetable garden, protect them from pesticides used on vegetables.

Grow herbs started from containers so they can be set in the garden without disturbing the roots. Borage and dill are two herbs that do not transplant well if bare-root. Either scatter seeds in the garden where these herbs are to grow, or start plants in containers.

The flavors and scents of herbs are caused by oils in the plant tissue. High fertilization, excess moisture, and shade result in low oil content and weak flavor. The oil content in many herbs is at its highest just before the plants begin to flower.

Herbs and Their Characteristics

Anise—annual grown for its licorice-flavored leaves and seeds; slow growing; difficult to transplant bare-root.

Basil—annual grown for its leaves; available in several different flavors and plant types; easily gown from seed; purple leaf types make attractive vinegar.

Sweet Bay—tender perennial, evergreen shrub; source of bay leaf; requires cool greenhouse protection in winter; frequently grown as a container plant; start with a nursery-grown plant.

Bergamont—perennial, also known as bee balm; grown for minty leaves; attractive flowers attract bees and hummingbirds; start from crown division or seeds.

Borage—annual grown for cucumber-flavored leaves and attractive small blue flowers; attracts bees; makes a large, unruly plant; difficult to transplant bare-root.

Salad Burnet—perennial grown for cucumber-flavored leaves; grow from seed or crown division.

Catnip—perennial grown for leaves; a mint; grow from seed, cuttings, or division.

Chamomile—perennial grown as annual; flowers used for tea; grow from seed.

Garlic Chives—grown for leaves with light garlic flavor and scent; grow from seed or division; attractive white flowers sew many seed; self-seeds prolifically.

Onion Chives—perennial grown for onion-flavored leaves; attractive purple flowers; grow from seed or division.

Coriander—annual; grow from seed; fresh green leaves known as cilantro and Chinese parsley; also grown for seeds.

Costmary—perennial; known as bible leaf; grown for minty scented leaves; grow from seed or division.

Dill—annual grown for seed heads and leaves; prefers cool weather; grow in spring and fall; doesn’t transplant well bare-root; scatter seeds where plants are to grow or use container-grown plants.

Garlic—perennial grown for dry bulb; plant garlic cloves in October and harvest bulbs in May and June.

Scented Geraniums—tender perennials; available in many different scents: rose, peppermint, lemon, lime, orange, strawberry, apple, almond, mint; variety of foliage forms available; excellent pot plant; propagate by cuttings.

Ginger—tender perennial grown for pungent root; treat as annual (plant in spring and harvest in fall); propagate by root cuttings; prefers moist, rich soil.

Anise Hyssop—perennial grown for licorice flavored leaves for teas; attractive purple flowers attract bees; a mint; propagate by seed or division.

Lemon Balm—perennial mint grown for lemon-scented leaves; grow from seed, division, or cuttings.

Lemongrass—tender perennial grown for lemon-flavored leaves used in oriental cooking; attractive as ornamental grass with blue-green color; leaves have sharp edges.

Lemon Thyme—perennial; low-growing attractive plant for sunny area; leaves have strong lemon fragrance.

Marjoram—perennial grown as annual; grown for leaves; grow from seed, cuttings, or by layering.

Mint—perennial; many different flavors and leaf and plant types; spreads rapidly; prefers moist soil, tolerates shade; keep cut for tender growth.

Oregano—perennial grown for leaves; grow from seed, cuttings, or division.

Parsley—biennial grown as annual; grown for leaves; grow from seed; prefers moist soil.

Rosemary—perennial, evergreen shrub but reliably hardy; grown for leaves; available in different plant types, upright and creeping; adapted to pot culture; prefers moist, well-drained soil.

Sage—perennial grown as annual, not reliably hardy; available as common, golden, and variegated; grown for leaves; grow from seed, cuttings, or layering; prefers well-drained soil.

Pineapple Sage—tender perennial; pineapple-scented leaves; large plant; attractive red flowers grow from cuttings.

Summer Savory—annual grown for leaves; grow from seed; unruly plant.

Winter Savory—perennial grown for leaves; grow by layering; a neater plant with better flavor than summer savory.

Tarragon—perennial grown for licorice-flavored leaves; French Tarragon the only type to grow and only grows from stem and root cuttings; suffers with summer heat.

Winter Tarragon—tender perennial, not reliably hardy; also known as mint marigold; licorice-flavored leaves; propagate by cuttings and division; small single, orange, marigold-type flower in fall.

Thyme—perennial, but not reliably hardy; variety of flavors and plant types; grown for leaves; propagate by seed, cuttings, or divisions; prefers well-drained soil.

Lemon Verbena—tender perennial, shrubby, grown for leaves; propagate by cuttings; grow in container and provide winter protection.

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Publications

Publication Number: P1091
Publication Number: M1221
Publication Number: IS1562

News

Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens August 29, 2017

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- Home gardeners and horticulture professionals can learn about the latest plants, research and gardening techniques during the 39th annual Fall Flower & Garden Fest on Oct. 13 and 14. 

Filed Under: Food and Health, Food, Nutrition, SNAP-Ed, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens, Youth Gardening August 9, 2017

RAYMOND, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service hired three regional registered dietitians to help in the fight against obesity and chronic disease in Mississippi.

Samantha Willcutt, Kaitlin DeWitt and Juaqula Madkin have joined the Extension Office of Nutrition Education. They oversee the Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed, curriculum and delivery in their regions.

The Dark Opal basil has a variable, mottled appearance that means no two plants look the same. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Herb Gardens June 3, 2013

If there is one herb my wife and I love to grow more than the rest, it has to be basil. There is nothing better for the hot months because it is gorgeous in the landscape and delicious in fresh summer meals.

Many of the gardeners I have talked to think we have taken basil growing to the extreme.

Flattened metal spoons can be customized with letter punches and placed in the garden to identify herbs. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens April 29, 2013

Like many home gardeners, I used to put plants in my landscape without worrying about labels because I was sure I’d remember what was planted where. And like most of you, I would end up scratching my head wondering what I had planted where.

One of the best gardening tips I can share, especially in the spring when you’re putting so many new things out, is to label your landscape plants.

For greatest flavor and fragrance, harvest mint after flowers are produced. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Herb Gardens June 4, 2012

Mint is one of those plants that gardeners both love and hate at the same time.

Many gardeners love the sweet fragrance they smell when they brush against the mint foliage. They also find mint iced tea to be delicious or a mint julep to be a sure-fire summer time refreshment.

But in the landscape, mint grows aggressively and can quickly take over an area. I’ve heard people say -- hopefully in jest -- that the only way to control mint in the landscape is to move.

Watch

Propagating Herbs - MSU Extension Service
Extension Stories

Propagating Herbs

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 2:30pm
Harvesting and Preserving Herbs - MSU Extension Service
Extension Stories

Harvesting and Preserving Herbs

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 2:30pm
Cooking with Herbs May 17, 2015
The Food Factor

Cooking with Herbs

Saturday, May 16, 2015 - 7:00pm

Listen

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 6:00pm

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