Starter Herbs for Texas Gardeners

Guest Author

By Leslie Bingham, Guest Author

Herbs are plants that are used as flavoring agents, medicinally, and in the garden landscape. The common herbs used in cooking are referred to as culinary herbs.

If you’re considering growing your own herbs, here’s a list of basic herbs that are the best for cultivating in our south central Texas climate.

  • Basil (annual) – Basil in all its forms, is the tomato herb and a staple in Italian cooking. Freeze the fresh leaves for future use or make a zesty pesto. The more you pick the leaves, the better the plant will grow. Use in sauce, or in pestos or on sandwiches and try served on fresh fruit!
  • Chives (perennial) – Garlic chives are very easy to grow. Use them to add garlic flavor to sauces and dressings. To use, clip a bunch of long stems down at the root level and they will continue to grow and produce. They have very pretty white flowers in the fall.
  • Cilantro (hardy annual) – Well known in Texas for the use of its leaves in salsa and Mexican dishes, cilantro likes cooler weather, so plant outside in the fall for lots of foliage until a hard frost. Try some fresh cilantro with sea food, delicious! You can use the leaves and tender stems.
  • Dill (annual) – Fern leaf dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed here in our area. It’s another herb that dislikes our intense heat so plant or seed in the fall. Try it sprinkled on fresh cucumber or with salmon. Use with seafood tacos for a different flavor.
  • Garlic (perennial) – Indispensable in cooking, plant garlic bulbs in fall for a late spring harvest. Whole books have been written on its cultivation and use. Leaves may be used like chives. You can even plant the bulbs you buy from the grocery store and it will produce great garlic!
  • Mints (perennial) – Mints do well in full sun to part shade with average water. Use in hot and cold tea for a refreshing drink. The mints (peppermint or spearmint) added to either sour cream or yogurt reduce the heat in Indian or Mexican cuisine.
  • Oregano (perennial) – Two of the most common and easily available oreganos are Greek oregano and Mexican oregano, which is slightly more bitter than Greek with a stronger flavor. Oregano likes well drained soil and lots of sun. Both are wonderful in any Italian or Mexican dish.
  • Parsley (biennial) – The two most widely used types are curly and Italian or flat-leaf. Many people think the flat-leaf variety has a better flavor. Both are started from seed (with patience) in the fall as they are winter hardy in most of the state. Parsley likes a little shade for summer growing otherwise full sun brings out the flavor best. Very high in Vitamin C, parsley is a good addition to fresh salads.
  • Rosemary (perennial) – 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. Rosemary is used with pork, chicken and is great on roast potatoes. Rosemary is easily propagated from cuttings or by ground layering.

Leslie Bingham is the Secretary of The Herb Market Association Board

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