15 Easy Herbs To Start Growing In Your Garden

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When warm weather sets in, it's already too late for most parts of the South to start plants from seeds. However, you can still create an herb garden with established plants from the nursery.

Whether garnishing a salad or blended into a homemade pesto, herbs make a delicious accompaniment to fruits, vegetables, and grilled meats. Since many of our favorite herbs are easy to grow, this is an ideal project for beginner gardeners. Here are our top picks for starting an easy herb garden.

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Also known as Mexican parsley, cilantro grows fast in the cool weather of spring and fall. When the weather gets warm, the plant sends up a long, skinny flower stalk, which produces coriander seeds—Plant cilantro in a bed devoted to herbs where it can reseed or in the corner of the vegetable garden. Avoid full sun or excessive heat, or the leaves will turn bitter. This herb does not retain its flavor when dried and wilts quickly once cut, so keep several pots on hand for homemade salsas and fresh salad garnishes.

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Common sage grows as a low shrub, often wider than it is tall. Ideal for pots or the garden, sage mixes well with rosemary, basil, and other Mediterranean herbs. Sage doesn't like wet ground, so plant it in a sunny spot with fertile, well-drained soil. As with all herbs, harvest the leaves regularly to encourage more growth.

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All types of mint, including sweet mint, peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint, are fast-growing, spreading plants. Either give them a considerable place to spread without overtaking other plants or plant mint in pots. Keep this herb in full sun or partial shade and pinch out any flower buds to encourage more leaf growth.

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You can choose from (and mix them in flower beds) a plethora of basil varieties—sweet basil, purple basil, Thai basil, and more. This herb grows rapidly in 80- to 90-degree weather, and two or three plants will yield plenty of fresh leaves for a family of four—If you plan on making pesto with it, plant at least a dozen or more plants.

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A shrub plant, rosemary is woody-stemmed with needle-like leaves that can commonly reach three feet in height, sometimes stretching to five feet in warmer climates unless clipped. Rosemary is ideal for home gardens because it also thrives in large containers or small pots on the windowsill. An aromatic herb, rosemary plants grow well with basil, oregano, and sage.

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Whether in pots or the ground, parsley needs rich, slightly damp soil in full sun or partial shade. This herb is an excellent companion plant for annuals, perennials, and other spices in beds, containers, and window boxes. The caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly loves parsley, so consider planting enough parsley for both you and the butterflies-to-be. They are very likely to appear in late summer and fall, and while eating lots of the plant, they won't kill it.

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Gardeners use onion and garlic chives as perennial edging or border plants—these herbs are also great when used in the kitchen. Both these plants have leaves with flavorful, fuzzy, colorful flower globes. Chives also grow well in containers (even the pockets of a strawberry jar), either alone or in combination with other long-lived herbs such as rosemary.

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Oregano grows best in dry, warm climates, needs less water than most plants, and grows faster when trimmed, like basil and sage. Oregano also loves to grow in pots, spilling over the edge, making an excellent seasonal ground cover or edging along a path. Oregano is a universal companion plant that nurtures the other plants it grows within the same soil.

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Thyme Leaves on Plant
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One of the best herbs to start growing is thyme because it's virtually indestructible. It's drought-tolerant and won't falter if hit on occasion by a soccer ball. It can develop between the cracks of garden pathways or pavers, but not in the shade. Thyme needs sunlight to survive.

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Lemongrass in garden
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Start growing lemongrass from seeds or propagate it from a store-bought herb. It's an excellent herb commonly used in Thai and Indian recipes and for rice, soup, and tea seasonings. It's also known for its medical uses. Lemongrass is an herb that helps digestion, relieves stress, and is an ingredient in skincare products. This herb does not require soil to grow. You simply snip the stalk when you want to use it, and new shoots will rise from the roots to replace it.

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Bay Laurel

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To help bay laurel grow, use compost, like coffee grounds, to enrich the soil with an organic fertilizer. Bay laurel, also known as bay leaf, grows as a shrub and exudes a naturally sweet, earthy scent. Move this herb indoors during the winter and return it outside for the summer—remember to prune your shrub because it will continue to grow. Bay laurels should be around five to six feet tall and left in direct sunlight.

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Popular in salads, fennel is an herb that shows yellow flowers and is edible—fennel likes well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. A part of the carrot family, fennel is a hardy, perennial herb. Eat fennel raw in salads or roast it for soup and sauce. It resembles dill as it grows and is excellent for raised garden beds or container gardens. You should plant fennel in the spring in an area with at least six hours of sun.

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Chaste Tree
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Not the most traditional herb, but lavender buds are edible and can add flavor to fruit salads or desserts. Growing lavender is most beautiful for the sight and smells. Choose a variety that will thrive in your weather climate. Lavender spreads, so leave two feet of space to allow maximum growth.

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Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm
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Lemon balm grows best in average, well-drained soil and full to partial sunlight. The growing season is typically spring to fall, which requires frequent pruning to encourage new foliage. Lemon balm is also a part of the mint family, so you care for it the same way, and it exudes a mild lemony scent. This perennial plant shows small white flowers filled with nectar in the summertime.

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Photography Van Chaplin

Dill is an annual plant that attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies. Plant dill in a spot where you plan to keep it because it doesn't like to have its roots disturbed once in place. In the summer, yellow flowers cover the top of dill herbs, which are slender and can grow up to four feet tall and spread up to two feet wide. Dill requires plenty of sunlight and may need guarding against strong winds, but it is a cold-hardy herb that should thrive once planted.

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