Growing herbs and cooking with them has become more popular. With a good selection available at many nurseries, March is a great time to start planting.
As with any gardening, it all comes down to the right plant for the right spot. Also, what herbs do you actually use? Most herbs will not tolerate poorly drained soils, and most need plenty of sunlight. The most popular herbs for the garden include parsley, rosemary, lavender, thyme, chives, sage, cilantro, dill and basil.
Herbs can be planted in the ground near a vegetable garden or can be grown in containers. Planting them within easy access of the kitchen will encourage their use.
Many herbs are easy plants to grow in the garden, if you are aware of their needs. Take a little time to learn what your herbs need to thrive. Not only will they be beautiful, they’ll be useful.
Basil is a summer annual and should not be planted outdoors until all frost is over. Keep harvesting leaves by trimming flowers to keep the plant strong. Sweet basil is the most common type, but other varieties are available.
Parsley is a biennial, so try to plant some in the spring and the fall to have a constant supply. Most cooks prefer the flat-leaf types to the curly, but both add interest in a garden, and are usually evergreen.
Rosemary is a desirable herb as well as an ornamental evergreen, especially in poor, dry sites. It doesn’t tolerate heavy or waterlogged soils. It is drought-tolerant and fairly carefree. With upright forms and cascading or prostrate forms, rosemary has gray-green foliage and lovely lavender flowers in the late winter into spring.
Lavender is a much sought-after perennial but can be a bit finicky until it finds the right spot. This Mediterranean native with gray-green foliage prefers a drier site. It has fragrant spikes of blue to purple blooms.
Thyme comes in several different foliage forms with green, yellow, silver and white variegation. It can serve as a groundcover in dry sites or around steppingstones. It also does well in containers. Like rosemary and lavender, it likes it on the dry side.
Culinary sage is in the salvia family, which is a huge family of plants. The most common variety has a silvery green leaf, but there are variegated forms as well. It is a great perennial for the garden in full sun to partial shade and has lovely purple blooms in the spring.
Janet Carson is a Little Rock horticulturist. Email: email@example.com.