herb gardcening

Herb Gardening For Beginners: How To Grow Your Own Herbs

Gardening is a popular hobby, and for good reason! In 2013, Americans spent $3.5 billion on gardening supplies. But for some who believe they have a ‘brown thumb’ gardening can feel out of reach. Herbs are a fairly common ingredient in many dishes, from steaks to spaghetti sauce. Usually, herbs can be bought dried or fresh in a store, but they’re not really all that difficult to grow yourself. Growing your own herbs is a simple, straight-forward hobby that can be done even in the big city and yields delicious, nutritious seasoning for your dishes. Here’s a quick guide on herb gardening for beginners.

Herb Gardening For Beginners

Basil, parsley, thyme, sage, and cilantro are all herbs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the same needs as one another. Cilantro and parsley tend to enjoy part shade, getting only three to four hours of sunlight every day. Basil, on the other hand, likes full sun, at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.

Advertisement

Herbs also have a tendency to grow differently than one another. Some herbs, like basil and thyme, grow directly upward. Others, like mint, oregano, and marjoram grow outward, spreading as far as four feet. If your garden includes cilantro, dill, parsley, and basil, you’ll only need to space your plants one to two feet. If you’re growing rosemary, mint, or oregano, you’ll need to give them more room.

Advertisement

Your herbs may also require different watering routines. Rosemary does well when it gets a bit dry, but basil is a thirstier plant, requiring a little bit more water. As long as you do your research on each herb’s needs, herb gardening will come easy to you.

Advertisement

12 Easiest Herbs To Grow

If you’re brand new to herb gardening, you can get started with these super easy herbs. Let’s talk about what some of the more common types of herbs need in order to grow into happy, healthy plants.

Advertisement

Thyme

thyme

Whether or not I even use them in the things I cook, I love to grow herbs. One of the herbs you will always find in my garden is thyme. It’s a beautiful, fragrant, low-growing perennial herb that erupts in flowers that my local native pollinators just can’t seem to get enough of, and frankly, I don’t think I can get enough of them either. Let’s talk about this awesome little herb and how you can grow it in your garden too.

Advertisement

Sage

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/8 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 12-48 inches
  • Spread: 30 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, plenty of compost added

Basil

basil

Basil is a culinary herb that’s at the heart of Italian cuisine, and it’s also the base of most varieties of pesto. There may be a discrepancy in how to pronounce it (“bay-sil” or “bah-sil”) but there’s no denying its delicious aroma. Although sweet basil may be the most famous of its kind, there are many different cultivars. In this article, we’ll talk about how to grow basil for an awesome harvest all summer long.

Advertisement

Whichever variety you choose to grow, basil plants will keep on giving. Unlike a crop of beets and radishes which end after the harvest, basil will continue to produce for months if they are treated well. Best of all, basil is easy to grow once you get the hang of it. 

Advertisement

Lavender

lavender field

Lavender belongs to the same family of plants as sage, thyme, and mint. There are 45 different species of plant, some that grow as annuals (for just one year) or as perennials (coming back year after year.) Some types of lavender grow as a perennial bush with woody stems. There are incredibly hardy varieties of lavender that do well in desert conditions.

Advertisement

Mint

mint

Mint is a wonderfully versatile perennial herb with a tendency to spread. It can be used in drinks like mojitos and tea, used to garnish salads, and can even be made into an oil. There are as many as 600 varieties in the world, each one a bit different. But by and large, your standard mint plant is going to be a perennial herb that requires full sun, most soil until well established, and is hardy to zones 3-8.

Advertisement

Dill

Dill is one of my favorite herbs to grow for a number of reasons. It’s aromatic, produces beautiful flowers that the local bees can’t seem to get enough of, and are host to black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, which are an absolutely beautiful butterfly. In this article, we break down how to grow dill, when to harvest it, and more.

Oregano

  • Perennial
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height: 12-24 inches
  • Spread: 12-18 inches
  • Soil: Tolerates poor soil

Rosemary

rosemary herb plant

Rosemary is a very easy plant to cultivate, and once established, this perennial, woody shrub will last for years. Rosemary is a beautiful shrub with needle-like leaves and bright blue blooms. Evergreen Rosemary blossoms bloom throughout the spring and summer, infusing the air with a pleasant pine scent. Gardeners use this lovely herb frequently as a decorative plant in the landscape as well as for flavoring foods.

Chives

chives flowers

When it comes to herb gardening, growing chives is something I don’t think I could do without. Every garden I’ve ever planted has a little section devoted to chives. Their flavor is great and I love their pink, tuft-like flowers. Chives are remarkably easy to grow, often requiring next to nothing from the gardener who gives the plant a home. In this article, we’ll be doing a deep dive into growing this simple herb.

Parsley

  • Biennial
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Full
  • Height:18-24 inches
  • Spread: 6-8 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, lots of added compost

Cilantro

cilantro

Cilantro is an annual herb used in a number of dishes, like guacamole. It is part of the Apiaceae family, which contains 3,700 species, including parsley, celery, and carrots. Both cilantro the herb and coriander the seed come from the Coriandrum sativum plant. Don’t get confused! You can harvest both from this single plant.

Lemongrass

  • Annual
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch
  • Sun: Partial
  • Height: 12-24 inches
  • Spread: 18 inches
  • Soil: Fertile, lots of added compost

Can you start an herb garden in containers?

Herb gardens are one of the easiest to grow in containers! Choosing long, rectangular containers gives you the opportunity to plant several herbs all in a row, giving them ample space to grow. You can also grow each herb in its own container, enabling you to tailor the care you provide each individual plant based on its unique needs. Growing herbs in containers gives you the chance to move them indoors during the winter too, allowing nearly year round growing.

Can you herb garden indoors?

Herb gardens can be successfully grown indoors if you have a south-facing window (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) that gets lots of direct sunlight. You can also grow herbs under a lamp specifically designed for growing plants. Herbs like rosemary, for example, are perennial and will continue to grow year after year in the right conditions. Others, like basil and parsley, are annuals, meaning you will typically only get one growing season out of them. I’ve moved basil indoors before and it continues producing for an extra month or two, but tends to die off by December.

Read More: How To Grow Basil For A Bountiful Harvest All Season

When to harvest your herbs

Harvest time is the best time for your herb garden! Once your plants are established and have put on lots of growth, usually after a couple months, you can begin harvesting the herbs. Because you don’t typically need a great deal of herbs for a dish, your plants can be slowly harvested, picking just a few leaves or flowers at a time, based on your needs.

We do recommend with some herbs that you trim them occasionally to yield better, fuller growth. In the case of basil, trimming off some or all of the flowers will yield more leaf growth. But if you want your basil to go to seed, let a few flowers remain! Bees love them too.

We hope our guide to herb gardening for beginners was helpful! Most of all, don’t stress out about your plants and have a good time experimenting with different growing strategies. Enjoy!

Keep Reading: 16 Plants That Repel Bugs

Thomas Nelson
Environmental Advocate
Thomas is an environmental advocate currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. In his spare time, he enjoys experiencing the outdoors, raising chickens and ducks, and reading about current environmental issues. Despite slight colorblindness, his favorite color is green.
Advertisement