You are here

Herb Gardening

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 Asian 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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News

A person with yellow gloves on planting a shrub.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Management, Vegetable Gardens January 27, 2020

It may be chilly outside, but don’t let that deter you from going outside and working in your garden and landscape. Grab a jacket and your gardening tools, there is plenty to be done during February! 

Small planters in a row overflow with young lettuce plants.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens December 30, 2019

As we approach the end of the year 2019, I’ve been reflecting on gardens and gardening in general. I wrote several weeks ago about the changing attitudes and current perceptions that home gardeners have about their landscapes and gardens

A person with green gloves pruning a tree with yellow leaves.
Filed Under: Master Gardener, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Management, Vegetable Gardens December 16, 2019

Do you have improving your garden or landscape on your New Year’s resolution list? If you don’t, you should! Each month, we are going to offer a few suggested tasks to do. So, without further ado, here are four tasks for you to complete in your garden and landscape during the month of January:

 
Purple, red and yellow stems are topped by rich green leaves.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens December 9, 2019

Winter is finally here, whether you go by the meteorological date of Dec.1 or the upcoming astrological date of Dec. 21. To me, it means that I’m going to enjoy the freshly harvested cool-season greens from my little urban farm.

A group of red poinsettias.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture, Vegetable Gardens November 26, 2019

Poinsettias, a common Christmas plant, are in bloom during December. (Photo by MSU Extension)

Watch

Bachman's Heritage Cottage
Southern Gardening

Bachman's Heritage Cottage

Monday, November 25, 2019 - 7:00am
Hot Ornamental Peppers
Southern Gardening

Hot Ornamental Peppers

Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 7:30am
Planting a Salad Table
Southern Gardening

Planting a Salad Table

Sunday, August 4, 2019 - 4:45pm
Okra
Southern Gardening

Okra

Sunday, November 4, 2018 - 2:00am
Sharpening Your Tools
Southern Gardening

Sharpening Your Tools

Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 5:00am

Listen

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 7:00am
Friday, September 20, 2019 - 7:00am
Monday, December 17, 2018 - 7:00am
Friday, October 26, 2018 - 2:00am

Contact Your County Office

Your Extension Experts

Portrait of Dr. Rick Snyder
Extension/Research Professor
Greenhouse Tomatoes and other vegetables, Field Vegetables, Mushrooms