|Little wonder that herbs have
earned a place in American gardens.
Freshly harvested herbs have pungent
and aromatic qualities that far
exceed those of their commercially
obtained counterparts - whether
fresh or dried.
Even after the outdoor growing
season is over, you can still
enjoy dried herbs in fragrant
potpourris and sachets. You can
also grow herbs indoors in pots
on sunny windowsills, and use
them for culinary purposes, either
fresh, dried, or frozen.
You will enjoy growing herbs
because their culture is easy.
They require little care and space,
have very few insect and disease
problems, and generally require
only moderate fertility levels.
Above all, herbs provide you with
a continuing and satisfying hobby.
Herbs flourish under the same
conditions that you provide for
your flower or vegetable garden.
Although most herbs will grow
in partial shade, it is better
if the herb garden receives at
least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight
A majority of herbs will grow
well under a wide range of soil
conditions, with the exception
of extremely wet, poorly drained
soils. Note, however, that sage,
rosemary, and thyme require a
well-drained but moderately moist
If the garden soil is poorly
drained, you can improve the situation
by modifying or amending it, building
it into a raised bed that will
be above the water table. To build
a raise bed use about two parts
of native topsoil to one part
compost soil ammendment such as
Clayutter, mushroom compost, or
composted cow manure. You can
see how to build a raised bed
in the Planting
an Annual Flowerbed section.
In general, herbs do better in
soils of low to medium fertility,
so additional fertilizer applications
are not needed. With herbs, soils
with high fertility tend to produce
lots of foliage that is low in
If your site is well-drained,
prepare your garden site in the
same manner that you would a vegetable
garden, spading it to a depth
of 6 to 12 inches. Then level
and rake the site to remove any
large clods and debris.
Determining The Size Of Your Herb
The size of your garden will
depend largely upon the quantity
of herbs that you need and want
to grow. A dozen annual and/or
perennial herbs will provide you
with a good variety and should
require no more than 20 square
feet or so.
Herbs Into your Landscape
Decide on a type of garden. An
herb garden can take any form.
They can be planted in a formal
garden such as the knot garden
pictured below, or informally
with flowers, trees, and shrubs;
or in theme gardens.
If you have the
space and are interested in a
garden as pictured above do a
Google search using the words
'Knot Gardens'. You'll be sure
to find much information and many
photos for ideas.
- A formal herb garden generally
is composed of a series of beds
that are not identical but appear
balanced. The herbs are arranged
by height, foliage color, and/or
use, often in rows. Wide walkways
are used to separate the beds
and give the garden a sense of
spaciousness. Formal gardens of
the 16th century were designed
as knot gardens. This style uses
plants to create intricate, geometric
designs within a square or rectangle.
The designs were often edged with
low-growing hedges of lavender
or boxwood that showed off the
subtle characteristics of the
herbs. When choosing plants for
a knot garden, select those that
are compact, low-growing, and
are manageable. Some suggested
herbs are thyme, germander, rue,
hyssop, rosemary, and santolina.
Avoid invasive herbs such as the
mints. In addition to the herbs,
statuary, topiaries, and container-grown
plants are important features
to include in a formal garden.
Herb Garden -
Kitchen gardens (including thyme,
sage, basil, tarragon, dill) make
use of the best cullinary herbs.
Color Herb Garden
- These gardens use a particular
color as a theme such as gray-green
(including horehound, lavender,
artemesia, and wormwood). Of course
you can always add plants from
other genus to this garden as
well. The annuals Dusty Miller
and Helichrysum Licorice are wonderful
Herb Garden - The
name of this theme says it all
and includes mint, scented geraniums,
lemon balm, thymes with scent,
Garden - These
work particularly well in containers
and includea different varieties
of the same herb species. For
example: a sage garden would use
common sage, tricolor sage, golden
sage, purple sage, clary sage,
pineapple sage, and any of the
salvias which are actually sages.
The possibilities are limited
only by your imagination.
Uses For Herbs in The Landscape
Don't limit your use of herbs
to specific situations. You can
use them to enhance most any garden.
Of course, some grow better as
groundcovers, others as edging
plants; still others are best
when intermingled with different
plants in a mixed border. Most,
however, are best used where their
fragrance and beauty can be appreciated
upclose. Rosemary makes a great
hedge around a patio or deck.
Your Herb Garden
your ideas on paper. Once
you have decided on the type
of garden you want, make a
rough sketch or drawing on
paper. This helps to visualize
what the garden will look
like and will help in determining
the number of plants needed.
Think about the staging (shorter
plants in front, taller towards
the back) as well as succession
Consider color schemes and combinations.
Use specific plant characteristics
when deciding where to locate
the plants. Color is one of the
most noticeable features of a
plant. By choosing a single color
scheme, you can create a garden
that gives a sense of space, openness,
For greatest effect, vary the
height, shape, texture, and size
of the flowers and tones of the
color. Colors can also be used
in combination; some colors blend
together better than others. For
example, a silver-foliaged plant
such as horehound enhances a red
or pastel foliage or flowers.
Yellow and blue is always a good
combination. Orange and blue,
yellow and violet, and red and
green are complementary colors
and create a strong effect.
Contrast is another technique
to use to make your garden more
interesting. By definition, contrast
is using opposing elements close
together to produce an intense
or intriguing effect. You can
contrast textures, darks, lights,
colors, shapes, flower form....any
design element. For example, rounded
plant forms look best next to
those that are upright; a plant
with round flowers is complemented
by a plant with spiky flowers
and so on. A plant with large
leaves will compliment a pplant
with very tiny leaves, and so
Keep the plants together. It
is very important to define the
garden. The plant will look better
if kept together rather than scattered
through the landscape. Edging
the herb garden defines the planting
area and makes the garden look
as though it belongs in the landscape.
If the plants are located next
to a wall, a sidewalk or path
can provide the boundary. If they
are located in a lawn area, a
edging of brick, rock, or
wood can be useful. A defined
area looks more "finished"
and is easier to maintain.
Create a unified effect. In addition
to the plant material, other things
to consider are benches, sculptures,
bird baths, and other objects
that serve as focal points to
enhance the planting.
Herbs in Containers
Many herbs can be grown successfully
in containers on a patio, balcony,
terrace or indoors on a sunny
window sill. There are many reasons
why you may want to grow herbs
in containers rather than in the
garden. First, some of them are
small and tend to get lost in
a landscape; growing them in containers
brings them closer to the viewer.
This is especially true of ornamental
herbs that have unique qualities
that should be viewed upclose.
Container growing is especially
recommended for herbs that need
good drainage and tend to rot
in overly wet garden soils, or
for tender herbs that need to
be overwintered indoors. Containers
are easily transported and can
be arranged in attractive groupings
with containers of flowering plants.
a container -
Any container is suitable for
growing herbs as long as it has
a drainage hole. Clay pots are
often preferred because they are
more porous than plastic. Other
containers that work well include
window boxes, strawberry jars,
and hanging baskets.
- The soil you use should be loose
and well-drained. A professional
lightweight potting soil is best.
We stock Penningtons Pro Potting
soil at the nursery.
the plants - Small
and slow-growing herbs look best
in containers. Some examples are
variegated sage, purple sage,
golden sage, parsley, Greek oregano,
rosemary, prostrate rosemary,
marjoram, bush basil, thyme, chives,
and summer savory. Window boxes,
strawberry jars, and large pots
can accomodate a combination of
several herbs and flowers.
herbs in containers - Watering
is the most difficult part of
container gardening. Plants growing
in containers dry out faster than
in the ground. On a hot, sunny
day, a container may require water
once or twice daily. Of course,
the water requirements vary from
plant to plant. When the top of
the soil feels dry, apply enough
water to allow a small amount
to come out the drainage holes
in the bottom of the container.
Since most herbs do not require
high fertility, you should not
need to fertilize them as much
as you would other container-grown
plants such as flowers or houseplants.
During the growing season, pinch
the plants back to keep them bushy
and compact and remove any dead
or diseased leaves to keep them
- Herbs growing in containers
can be easily moved indoors for
the winter. Before doing so, the
plants should be acclimatized
in early fall. Gradually move
them indoors a few hours at a
time over the period of several
days so they get adjusted to the
differences in temperature and
light. Herbs growing indoors should
be treated differently than those
One of the biggest problems indoors
is providing sufficient light
to keep the plants from getting
spindly. Grow them in the sunniest
location you have or under fluorescent
lights. Since the plants will
not be using as much water as
they did outdoors, water only
when the soil is dry; apply enough
water so that some drains out
the bottom of the pot. Avoid overwatering
which will cause the roots to
rot. Check the plants frequently
for aphids, spider mites, and
whiteflies which are common pests
on herbs grown indoors. herbs
grown outdoors have very little
of Seeds and Plants
- At the nursery
we offer a wide selection of herbs
for growing in our area (zone
8). Seeds and plants of various
other herbs can be obtained by
mail order or from suppliers on
Of Herbs - Herbs
are classified either as annuals,
biennials, or perennials:
- Annual herbs such as basil
grow, flower, and produce seed
during one season, and then
- Biennial herbs such as parsely
grow for two seasons, flowering
the second year only.
- Perennial herbs, which make
of most of what we stock at
the nursery, once established,
overwinter and flower each season.
- Some herbs such as some of
the sages are tender perennials;
these do not survive severe
winters and are best grown as
annuals or over-wintered indoors.
Care of the Herb Garden
- Your herb garden will need attention
throughout the growing season.
Weed control and provision for
adequate moisture are two important
cultural necessities. When rainfall
is less than 1 inch per week,
provide additional moisture.
The use of a mulch is an attractive
and effective means of controlling
weeds and maintaining constant
soil moisture and temperature
for the root systems of your herbs.
Mulches that you might consider
include bark chips or shredded
bark. To be effective, the mulch
should be applied at least 2 inches
deep around the plants.
Protection - Most
perennial herbs are hardy plants
that are able to survive winter.
In Georgia we do have an occasional
severe winter. Here are some suggestions
to ensure plant survival during
such a winter. First, start out
with healthy plants and maintain
vigor throughout the growing season.
Though many herbs tolerate poor
or wet soils, the majority prefer
to grow in well-drained soils.
Plants in overly wet soils will
grow poorly and are subject to
root rots. Soils that are heavy
should be amended with organic
matter to loosen the clay structure.
Another method of improving drainage
is to plant the herbs in raised
beds or containers.
late fertilizing and pruning -
Most herbs are
more flavorful when the fertility
is not too high.
Pruning should be done during
spring and summer; avoid excessively
cutting the plants back in the
fall. The growth serves to catch
leaves that help insulate the
plants. An additional mulch of
evergreen branches or some other
materiacan be placed around the
plants. Avoid a mulch that packs
down and stays too wet during
the winter, which would cause
the plants to rot. Bark nuggets
would be preferable oner shredded
and fennels are host plants for
the caterpillar of the monarch
butterfly. We allow them to munch
on these plants as much as they
want. The plants will grow back
after having been stripped.