I honestly think growing Herbs is the best way to get into gardening, not only do you grow something yourself you can use in every single meal you prepare, but they also grow relatively fast. Another benefit starting with herbs is their flexibility, you can grow them indoors and outdoors in a growing bed or container
Additionally learning the basics of gardening, while you can enjoy the freshness of your own herbs, which will work wonders in every kitchen.
Here is my List of 15 beginner-friendly Herbs, and more importantly also their uses, how to grow them and some additional tips.
- Winter Savory
Without further ado let’s get right into it and start with my favorite herbs for beginner gardeners, but honestly, everyone should at least grow a couple of these plants.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a well-established herb in Italian cuisine, used as the base of recipes like Pesto and can be used in nearly any meal as a nice addition. The most commonly used type of Basil is sweet, with a hint of anise. Other types of Basil like Lemon- or Cinnamon Basil are also a good addition to your herb garden, especially as you won’t be able to buy them in regular stores.
How to grow Basil
Sweet Basil is an annual Plant, which requires full sun and well-drained rich soil. Basil can be sowed directly outside, or inside around 6 weeks before the last frost and germinates within a week. Once Night-temperatures rise to <50°F(10°C) Basil can be transplanted.
Plant Basil seeds/seedlings 10inches(25cm) apart and 1/3 of an inch (0.75cm) deep. The soil should be moist and watered frequently, mulching helps to keep your plants watered, and with drainage.
After the plant reaches 7inches (18cm) cut off the growing tip, stop the plant from growing any higher and increase growth to the sides making it bushier. Giving the plant more area to produce and increase its harvest
Harvest can be done depending on your needs, picking fewer leaves more frequently will encourage the plant to produce even more. Up until the end of the season (before the first frost), cut off all stems and harvest all leaves, afterward you can either freeze or dry them for later use.
Borage (Borago officinalis) is mostly used as a nice addition to your salad, its taste can be described similar to a cucumber. Borage also has a verity of medical uses, makes a nice tea and some delicious sauces/soups. Most notably used in Green Sauce made in Frankfurt (Germany).
How to grow Borage
Borage is an annual Plant, require full sun (can tolerate partial shade) and is rather tolerant to poor soil. Growing Borage in rich well-drained soil will increase its yield. I prefer to grow Borage from seed, after the last frost, but you can also start seedling 3-4 weeks before the last frost and transplant them before they are potbound and after the soil warmed up.
Plant Borage seeds/seedlings 12inches(30cm) apart and 1/3 of an inch(0.75cm) deep. After planting water frequently, once the plant is established you can decrease watering.
Borage will self-seed if you allow it to, coming back every year without any work put in. To keep Borage in check pick the edible flowers and prevent the plant from seeding.
Pretty much everything of the plant is edible and can be harvested regularly and depending on your needs. Flowers make a nice addition to a salad and the leaves will also add a nice distinct flavor. Borage is best consumed fresh, freezing or drying will remove most of its taste.
Another great benefit of Borage is its Bee attracting nature. Another name for Borage is Bee Bush, and that’s not without a reason. The plant will help to pollinate the rest of your garden and can be planted close to strawberries or other pollinator loving plants.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria), belongs to the Mint family, edible and is most notorious for its effect on cats. If you have a Cat yourself or want to seduce your neighbors’, Catnip is the perfect plant for you. But Beware: after growing this plant your house will probably be the new meeting point for all the Cats in your area.
How to grow Catnip
Catnip is a perennial plant (regrows each year in Zone 3-9 USDA), requires full sun and is pretty tolerant to almost all soil conditions, but prefers well-drained rich loamy soil. Catnip can easily be grown from seeds in spring, after the last frost.
Plant Catnip seeds 15inches (38cm) apart and 1/8 of an inch (3.2mm) deep. Water frequently after planting, but once the plant is established allow the soil to almost go dry, then water thoroughly.
Catnip is considered an invasive spices and will spread itself if left unchecked. Make sure to remove the flowers (deadheads) if you don’t want any more seedlings. Catnip also attracts bees and Butterflies promoting pollination in your garden.
After flowing, harvest Catnip by cutting of the whole plant at the base and drying it indoors (in a dark, well-ventilated room). Store dried Catnip (leaves, flowers, stems) in an air-tight bag to preserve more oils.
On the other hand, you can also use Catnip in your cooking, or as tea. Opposite to the effect on your feline friend Catnip actually has a calming effect on humans and helps to treat headaches.
Catnip should be planted away from any plant, which should not be molested by cats, and are best planted separately.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) is an established addition to almost all cuisines. While best being enjoyed fresh growing and using your own Chives will take it up another notch. Most notably used in a variety of sauces and as a nice addition to salads, this member of the allium family (same as onions/garlic) is a nice addition to your herb garden.
How to grow Chives
Chives is a cold-weather perennial plant, requires full sun and well-drained rich loamy soil, but can make do with most other soils. Chives can easily be grown from seeds in spring but giving it a headstart by growing seedling 6 weeks before the last frost, is advised.
Plant Chives seeds/seedlings 8inches (20cm) apart and 1/3 of an inch (0.75cm) deep. Water frequently after planting, during the summer lots of water is required otherwise Chives will start to wilt.
To keep watering more consistent consider adding mulch, this will also reduce the number of weeds, and will hopefully prevent random weeds to grow in you Chives (They don’t taste good).
Chives can be harvested according to your needs as soon as 60 days after transplanting, by cutting off a bunch of leaves close to the soil. Leaves without any flowers generally taste better, they are, however, edible and can be used as decoration on salads.
Chives can easily be stored by freezing and used throughout the year, without loose any taste. If you want your Chives to spread stop harvesting 3 weeks before the first frost and allow the plant to flower.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) also known as Coriander (this is the name of the Seeds, while Cilantro describes the leaves) is famous for its lemon/lime taste, which some people perceive as an unpleasant soapy taste. It was and still is used in a wide array of cuisines ranging from Mexico to Europe and Asia. And even finds use in medicine as digestive and sleep aid.
How to grow Cilantro
Cilantro is an annual Plant, best grown in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade and in well-drained moist soil. Cilantro can easily be planted directly from seeds, it grows really fast and doesn’t really need a headstart.
Plant Cilantro seeds in rows about 1 foot(30cm) apart and 1/4inch (0.6cm) deep. Between the plants, 6inches (15cm) will suffice. Cilantro grows very fast and should be planted in succession (Planting multiple times with 1-2 weeks time in-between). Once the weather gets hotter Cilantro will produce seeds, after which the plant will degrade quickly.
Cilantro will self-sow if you allow it to, making it a great recurring addition to your garden.
Harvest leaves can be harvested as you need them. To increase harvest pinch portions of the upper stem, but flowers, seeds, and leaves can be eaten. To store cilantro freezing is the best option to keep them tasteful.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is most notably used to pickle cucumbers and is a good go-to herb if you want to make your own pickles. Dill has a very distinct taste (-which is not always liked) and also finds its uses to make soups, stews and a lot of other dishes.
How to grow Dill
Dill is an annual Plant, best grown in full sun and in well-drained loamy soil. Dill can easily be planted directly from seeds, it grows really fast and doesn’t like to be transplanted.
Plant Dill seeds 18inches(45cm) apart and 1/4inch (0.6cm) deep. Temperatures of the soil must excide 60°F(16°C) for the best result, so sowing should be done in mid-spring.
Dill will self-sow if you allow it to, making it a great recurring addition to your garden.
Dill can be harvested whenever you need and can be used in its entirety. Flowers are good to flavor stews and are used like Bay leaves, similarly, the seeds are most commonly used to flavor pickles, bread, fish and vegetables.
Dill can be both dried and frozen for later use and generally keeps most of its taste. That being said frozen dill tends to be a bit more aromatic compared to dried option.
Mint (Mentha) is most commonly used to make tea, but can also be found in various dishes, and make a nice addition to a salad. There are a lot of different Mint flavors like chocolate to citrus, making them a very versatile addition to many meals.
How to grow Mint
Mint is a perennial plant, requires full sun and is pretty tolerant to almost all soil conditions, but prefers well-drained light soil. Mint can easily be grown from cuttings in spring, after the last frost.
Plant Mint cuttings <20inches (50cm) apart and deep enough to establish roots. Water frequently after planting, but once the plant is established allow the soil to almost go dry, then water thoroughly.
Mint is considered an invasive spices and will spread itself if left unchecked. Make sure to have some physical barriers to stop mint from spreading and don’t be afraid to pull some of them out.
Mint can be harvested frequently (even on a daily basis), while young leaves have more flavor than older ones. Mint can also be dried or frozen and used later.
Harvest them before they start flowering, leaving behind 1-1.5inches of the stem. This ensures multiple harvests during one growing season.
Oregano is separated into 2 main categories: Mediterranean and Mexican, both of which have similar growing requirements but belong to different families. Mediterranean Oregano belongs to the Mint family (Lamiaceae) on the other hand Mexican oregano belongs to the Verbenas family (Verbenaceae)
How to grow Oregano
Oregano is a perennial plant, requires full sun (or partial shade) and is pretty tolerant to almost all soil conditions, but prefers well-drained light soil. Oregano can easily be grown from seed or cuttings in spring, after the last frost.
Plant Oregano seedling/cuttings/seeds 10inches (25cm) apart and 1/3inch(0.75cm)deep. Water frequently after planting, but once the plant is established allow the soil to almost go dry, then water thoroughly.
Ground temperature should be around 70°F(21°C) when planting, to ensure optimal growth.
Oregano is best harvested before flowering. Flowers should be pinched to prevent bolting, also encouraging the plant to grow bushier.
To harvest Oregano, choose a stem bigger than 5inches(12cm) and run your finger along the stem to pick off all the leaves. Afterward cut of the now empty stem, so that a new one will grow.
Alternatively, you can also let your Oregano grow larger and only cut off the top parts of the stem. The leaves can be both dried and frozen for later uses.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is another widely used herb found in a bunch of different cuisines and foods. Parsley comes in 2 different shapes: either in a curly form, which is often used as Garnish or in a flat form, which is mostly used to flavor foods due to its more robust taste.
How to grow Parsley
Parsley is a biennial plant (having a 2-year life cycle), requires full sun (or partial shade) and moist rich soil. Parsley grows rather slow, it’s best to prepare seedling 10-12 weeks before the last frost. When grown from seed it’s best to plant them 4 weeks before the last frost (they can tolerate low temperatures).
Plant Parsley 8inches (20cm) apart and 1/3inch(0.75cm)deep in a rather weed-free place. Water frequently after planting, once the plant is established water evenly, parsley likes moist soil but can survive in dry conditions.
Being a biennial plant harvesting parsley is a little bit different than normal, you harvest the leaves during the first year (try to mainly harvest the other leaves).
In the second year, you can let the Parsley flower and harvest its seeds as well as its roots (in fall). Parsley can be frozen and dried for later usage both leaves and stems are good for flavoring, but the stems are more intensive.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is native to the Mediterranean, part of the mint family and related to basil and oregano. Its Latin name translates to “dew of the sea” fitting for its dew-like pale blue flowers.
How to grow Rosemary
Rosemary is a woody, perennial Plant, which requires full sun and well-drained light soil. Rosemary should be sowed inside around 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Once Soil-temperatures rise to <70°F(21°C) Rosemary can be transplanted.
Make sure your Rosemary has enough space to expand. Rosemary will get around 4feet(1.2m)high and wide, so you will most likely never need a second plant. Water the plant evenly but be careful not to overwater it.
It’s important to prune a rosemary bush in spring after flowering, to improve growth and help the plant to remain in good shape.
Harvest here is pretty simple, take what you need. Make sure to leave about 2/3 of the plant if you harvest in bulks. To make Rosemary storable simply dry it, this way you can add it to your meals all-year round.
Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis) is another well-established all-around herb and found in many different cuisines. Being part of the Mint family along with other previous mentioned plants, Sage has a long list of health benefits and its own unique and quite interesting uses in medicine.
How to grow Sage
Sage is a woody, perennial Plant, which requires full sun and well-drained light soil. Sage is best started from a small plant either bought in a store or by using cuttings 1-2 weeks before the last frost. Once roots start to emerge transplant into a small pot so the root ball can develop, then you can transplant it into your garden.
Make sure your Sage has enough space to expand. This plant will grow to around 1feet(30cm)high and 4feet(1.2m) wide, so you will most likely never need a second plant. Water the plant evenly but be careful not to overwater it.
Pruning of the heavier stems should be considered each spring. Especially if you don’t want to replace your Sage plant every 5 years.
In the first year harvest only a small amount, so the Sage can establish itself, afterwards, you can go ahead and harvest to your heart’s content. Sage has a very strong aroma, and opposite to most other herbs will get more intensive, the older the leaves get.
Once or twice a year have a larger harvest only leaving about have the plant, you can also use this opportunity to cut the shrub back into shape and encourage growth. Stop harvesting in fall, and let the plant prepare for winter. Sage can be both dried and frozen for later use.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) gained a lot of popularity recently and is mostly used as an alternative to sugar. Grown in Brazil, Japan, and China, Stevia is most commonly seen as small white capsules but this plants’ leaves also have quite a sweet taste a suffice as a good sweetener, even without the extraction process.
How to grow Stevia
Stevia is a perennial plant, requires full sun and well-drained rich loamy soil. Stevia is best grown from rooted cuttings, but can also be planted from seeds in late winter.
Stevia 24inches(60cm) tall and wide in the right conditions. And doesn’t like cold weather, so growing it in a Pot will be beneficial. Make sure the Pot is about 12inches(30cm) in diameter. Water frequently after planting, once the plant is established water evenly.
Most times one plant will suffice for normal usage, I actually had quite a lot of Stevia left last year, even though I only had one small plant.
I just picked off a couple leaves whenever I needed them, the sweetness of the leaves will intensify in cool autumn temperatures. Before winter comes around either harvest the whole plant completely (make sure to make a couple of cuttings), or if you live in a very mild climate leave about 4inches(10cm) so the plant that regrow next year.
When grown in a Pot, just take the plant inside and continue harvesting normally.
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) also known as Estragon is grown for its aromatic leaves. Especially the French Tarragon is commonly used as a nice addition to many meals, compared to the Russian Tarragon it’s superior in taste and texture.
How to grow Tarragon
Tarragon is a perennial Plant, best grown in full sun (can grow in partial shade) and in well-drained light soil. Tarragon can’t be grown from seeds, you need to get a cutting from an established plant.
Plant young Tarragon about 24inches foot(60cm) apart. Tarragon will grow up to 12inches(30cm) wide and 3feet(91cm) in height. Water frequently until established, no more watering is needed outside from heavy droughts.
Harvest usually takes place in late summer, but can additionally be done in smaller quantities throughout the year. While being best used fresh during summer Tarragon can also be dried or frozen for later use. Be sure to use air-tight containers to preserve most of its taste.
It’s best to prune your plant regularly to avoid it falling over after reaching more than 2 feet(60cm) in height. In Fall cover the plant with mulch to help the roots survive the winter.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) being the most commonly used culinary Thyme, is used for its aromatic leaves and as also part of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It’s thought to have antibacterial properties and was used for embalming and as protection against the Black Death.
How to grow Thyme
Thyme is a perennial Plant, which requires full sun and well-drained light soil. Thyme is best started from a small plant either bought in a store or by using cuttings. If grown from Seeds give them a 6-10 weeks headstart before the last frost.
Plant Thyme seedling/cuttings about 2 foot(60cm) apart and 1/5inch (0.5cm) deep. Water frequently after planting, and thoroughly after the plant is established only if the soil feels dry.
Can be harvested depending on your needs, and tastes the best right before flowering. In the first year do one mass harvest towards the end of its season, the next year you can harvest Thyme multiple times.
Thyme is great to dry and freeze and will keep its aroma similar to sage. Regular Pruning is also advised to improve production and keep your plant in shape.
Winter Savory (Satureja montana) is native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa. This plant is also closely related to spring savory, but differ in a few aspects, Winter Savory has a stronger taste, is more content in poor soil conditions and is a perennial unlike the annual spring savory.
How to grow Winter Savory
Winter Savory is a perennial Plant, which requires full sun and well-drained light soil. Winter Savory can be sowed indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost or directly into your growing bed after the last frost.
Plant Winter Savory seeds/seedlings 12inches(30cm) apart and 1/8inch(0.3cm) deep. This plant prefers dry conditions, so be careful not to over-water it. Mulching and deep watering will help to distribute water evenly, making it easier to keep your plant alive.
Winter Savory is normally harvested shortly before the first flowers, during the second year younger stems can be harvested. Similar to the annual spring savory leaves can be dried and frozen for storage. This will cause the leaves to turn hard, which makes it beneficial to use them while they are fresh.
Replace your plant every 3 years to ensure maximum yield or try to improve production with frequent pruning.
Is it better to grow Herbs indoors or outdoors? Generally, I prefer to grow my Herbs outside. Growing in containers makes it a lot harder to keep your plants alive, require more frequent fertilization and will reduce the amount of your harvest.