By Angelo from Deep Green Permaculture
19 October 2021
Types of Herbs
Annuals: these plants only live for one year, they grow and bloom for one season, produce seed, and then die down, (e.g. sweet basil, chervil, coriander, dill, and summer savory).
Biennials: these plants only live for two years, they will produce seed during the second year and then die down, (e.g. parsley).
Perennials: these plants live for more than two years, and may produce seed each year.
- If the foliage does not die down in winter, it is an evergreen perennial (e.g. marjoram, rosemary and thyme)
- If the foliage dies down in winter while the roots remain alive below the soil, and it then comes back up in spring, it is a deciduous perennial (e.g. chives, fennel and winter savory)
Growing Herbs in Containers
A garden bed isn’t required to grow herbs, most can be grown in containers, which is ideal way to grow herbs where space is limited if you only have a small courtyard, a balcony, or even just a windowsill. Here are some handy hints for growing herbs in containers:
- Containers are great as small ‘kitchen gardens’ – a garden bed or container outside your kitchen where you can grow your most often used culinary or kitchen herbs. This is very quick and convenient when you need fresh herbs in a hurry!
- Containers allow you to move your plants around to change their growing conditions when necessary. You can change the amount of sun, rain and warmth that they get by moving the container to a different place.
- Any container can be used to grow herbs in as long as it has drain holes at the bottom to prevent water pooling and rotting the plant roots. A large container, such as a half wine-barrel can hold a variety of herbs of various sizes growing altogether. Obviously, small herbs such as mint and chives can be grown in a small pot, but larger herbs will need a much bigger container.
- As a rough guide, a 20cm wide pot can hold one culinary herb, a large 40cm wide pot can accommodate three to four culinary herbs.
- Use a high-grade premium potting mix in containers, feed once a year at the very least, and every few weeks if you’re harvesting them often.
- Repot your herbs every one or two years – giving them fresh potting mix and fertiliser will keep them growing strongly.
Growth Characteristics of Common Herbs
|Common name||Scientific name||Growth Category||Light||Soil||Propagation|
|Angelica||Angelica archangelica||biennial||light shade||moist||SF|
|Basil, sweet||Ocimum basilicum||annual||full sun||moist||SS|
|Bay||Laurus nobilis||woody perennial||light shade||well drained||C|
|Borage||Borago officinalis||annual||full sun||dry||SS|
|Caraway||Carum carvi||biennial||full sun||well drained||SS, F|
|Catnip||Nepeta cataria||perennial||full sun -light shade||well drained||SS, D, C|
|Chervil||Anthriscus cerefolium||annual||light shade||well drained||SS|
|Chives||Allium schoenoprasum||perennial||shade – light shade||dry||SS, D|
|Cicely, sweet||Myrrhis odorata||perennial||light shade||rich||SF|
|Comfrey||Symphytum officinale||perennial||full sun||rich||D|
|Coriander||Coriander sativum||annual||full sun||rich, well drained||SS|
|Dill||Anethum graveolens||annual||full sun||rich, well drained||SS|
|Fennel, sweet||Foeniculum dulce||perennial||full sun||well drained||SS, D|
|Horehound||Marrubium vulgare||perennial||full sun||dry||SS, D, C|
|Hyssop||Hyssopus officinalis||perennial||full sun||dry||SS, D, C|
|Lavender||Lavandula angustifolia||perennial||full sun||dry||SF, C|
|Lemon Balm||Melissa officinalis||perennial||full sun -light shade||moist||SS, D, C|
|Lemon Verbena||Aloysia triphylla||woody perennial||full sun -light shade||well drained||SS, C|
|Lovage||Levisticum officinale||perennial||full sun -light shade||rich, moist||SF|
|Marjoram, sweet||Origanum majorana||perennial||full sun -light shade||rich, well drained||SS, C|
|Oregano||Origanum vulgare||perennial||full sun -light shade||well drained||SS, D, C|
|Parsley||Petroselinum crispum||biennial||full sun -light shade||rich, moist||SS|
|Peppermint||Mentha piperita||perennial||full sun -light shade||moist||D, C|
|Rosemary||Rosmarinus officinalis||woody perennial||full sun||dry, well drained||C|
|Sage||Salvia officinalis||woody perennial||full sun||dry, well drained||SS, C|
|Sage, pineapple||Salvia elegans||perennial||full sun||well drained||SS, C|
|Savory, summer||Satureja hortensis||annual||full sun||rich||SS|
|Savory, winter||Satureja montana||woody perennial||full sun||well drained||SF, D. C|
|Spearmint||Mentha spicata||perennial||full sun -light shade||moist||D, C|
|Tarragon||Artemisia dracunculus||perennial||full sun||rich, dry||D, C|
|Thyme||Thymus vulgaris||woody perennial||full sun||dry||SS, C, D|
|Woodruff, sweet||Asperula odorata||perennial||shade – light shade||moist||D, C|
Key – Propagation: C = cuttings, D = division, SF = seed, fall, SS = seed, spring
(Adapted from: Growing Herbs at Home – Ray R. Rothenberger and David H. Trinklein, Department of Horticulture, Published By MU Extension, University Of Missouri-Columbia)
For more gardening tips and advice visit Deep Green Permaculture.