Easy, drought-tolerant and tasty! There are so many things to do with versatile herbs.
We think herbs should be included in every garden. They are especially appropriate for cottage gardens and Spanish courtyards. Herbs are easy to grow, drought-tolerant and tasty! Many also benefit wildlife, espically caterpillars that morph into butterflies. So plant some extra for the caterpillars to munch on.
Herbs can be annuals or perennials. Some grow through the winter and others in the summer. They can be planted in beds or in containers. All herbs like well-drained soils and most want plenty of sun. They respond well to constant light pruning so pinch them back often, and use them liberally in your cooking.
Growing your own herbs will add fresh flavor to your culinary adventures and save you a lot of money in the process, as fresh herbs are generally pricy at the grocery store. Plant them in a convenient location you can easily access from your kitchen.
Below is a short list of tried and true herbs. But we are just giving you a taste of the choices available to you. A deep dive into the world of herbs will find you with hundreds of choices at your fingertips.
Spring and Summer Herbs
- Basil (annual)– Pesto, Pasta, Pho. This is your go-to herb for Italian but is also widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. It comes in a wide variety of flavors. This one needs sun and good drainage, and you’ll have to do some daily hand watering during a hot August.
- Oregano (perennial)– Oregano likes well-drained soil and lots of sun. It is evergreen through most Texas winters and can do double-duty as a culinary gem and a garden border. Pinch back regularly. It will generally live three to five years. After then, it can get overly woody and you’ll want to start over.
- Rosemary (perennial) – This is one of the easiest herbs to grow in Texas as it thrives in our hot climate. It is considered very drought-tolerant and can be killed by over watering. Rosemary comes in two basic forms: upright and trailing or prostrate. The trailing variety has light blue blooms in spring and throughout the summer. Both are evergreen.
Fall and Winter Herbs
- Parsley (biennial)– The two most common types are curly and ﬂat-leaf. Many people think the ﬂat-leaf variety has a better ﬂavor. Plant from seed or transplants in the fall as they are winter hardy. Very high in Vitamin C, parsley is a good addition to fresh salads.
- Cilantro (hardy annual)– You either love the flavor or hate it. Some say it’s genetic. Cilantro is used in salsa so it’s a must in a Salsa Garden. Widely used in Latin and Southeast Asian cuisines, it likes cooler weather, so plant in the fall for lots of foliage until a hard frost or hot spring. When you’re ready, let it bloom with tiny delicate white flowers.
- Dill (annual)– Fern leaf dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed here in our area, but you can buy it too. It dislikes our intense heat, so plant or seed in the fall. Try it sprinkled on fresh cucumber or with salmon. It gets tall, so plant toward the back of the garden bed.
Herbs for Butterflies
Plant some extra herbs and rejoice when they start getting chomped on by hungry caterpillars that will transform into butterflies.
Dill, Fennel, Parsley = Black Swallowtails
Rue = Giant Swallowtails
Mint = Grey Hairstreaks
Herbs for the Bees
European honey bees and our own Texas native bees will love this feast of food and you will too.
Lemon Balm, Mint, Chives, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
More Herbs for You
Herbs are generally thought of in the category of culinary, culturally medicinal or decorative. There are too many to name, but here are a few more you can easily research to grow and use.
Lavender, Chives, Borage, Catnip, Chamomile, Germander, Feverfew, Comfrey, Lemongrass
Tip to Keep Herbs Growing
For annual herbs, like basil and cilantro, be sure to pinch off any flower buds you see. Once annual herbs produce flowers they are on their way to “going to seed” and completing their annual life cycle. At some point, the weather gets you and you will need to let them go. You can then cut the flowers for nice arrangements or leave them to seed. Cilantro, in particular, will come back easily from seed as wildflowers do.