Planting an Herb Garden

They are easy and fun to grow – and can be a successful garden plant for almost anyone!

Carly Gillespie with Cactus & Tropicals explains how to plant an herb garden.

Herbs are easy and fun to grow, and can be a successful garden plant for almost anyone. Herbs are very versatile and can be grown in a variety of ways. They can suit just about any situation. Many of our favorite culinary herbs are perennial and will come back every year, which makes them ideal landscaping plants. Some herbs are annuals that will do great in your vegetable gardens, or containers that can be taken inside in the winter. Almost all herbs can be grown together in containers to make a decorative and edible container garden for your patio or sunny kitchen window. Below are 5 common culinary herbs that are easy to grow in Utah gardens.

Oregano is an easy-to-grow, sun-loving perennial, that will come back year after year. Once established, oregano can be quite drought tolerant. It produces beautiful flowers that are wonderful pollinator attracters. Use oregano as a decorative plant in your ornamental garden, where you need a low-growing plant that will spread as it grows. You can also easily grow oregano in containers, but it will do best and grow larger in the garden. There are many varieties of Oregano each offering a distinct flavor. Oregano varieties range in size from 18″ – 3′. You can start to harvest oregano when it is 8″ tall, and can continue to harvest throughout the season. The more you harvest the bushier and fuller your plant will be.

Parsley comes in flat leaf and curly varieties; both varieties are biennial and will come back for two years then re-seed themselves. Parsley is best suited for your vegetable, herb, or wilder ornamental garden, as it will easily spread and seed itself around the garden. It is quite easy to grow, and is one herb that can tolerate shade. You can harvest parsley as needed by cutting the stems of the older leaves, or by cutting up to half of the leaves to just above ground level. Like with other plants, frequent harvesting promotes new growth.

Rosemary has a lovely smell and wonderful flavor. It is a moderately hardy perennial, but will come back for many years in your garden. Rosemary does well in very sunny areas, and is often used as a hedge in warmer climates like Arizona. It can be grown in pots on a sunny patio or in a sunny window. It can also be planted in the landscape as a useful ornamental plant. It is very easy to grow, and can be quite drought-tolerant once it is established. There are many types of rosemary, and can be upright bushes or a low growing, spreading garden plant. You can even find decorative rosemary topiaries. It blooms light lavender/blue, white or pink colored blooms in the summer, and can be harvested almost year round. This is a must have for any herb enthusiast.

Basil is an annual herb that is most often grown in pots or with tomatoes in vegetable gardens. It is very sensitive to the cold, and must be planted after the last frost date (May 15th in Salt Lake City). It can easily be grown from seed or start, and will be a very prolific producer all summer long. It does especially well if fertilized with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Basil grows well, even in the summer heat, but will begin to produce blooms in the extreme heat of the summer. You will want to remove any blooms you see, as they will not only take energy away from the leaves of the plant, but can also make your basil taste bitter. Basil will die back when the weather gets cold, so you will need to bring it indoors if you plan to try to keep it alive in the winter. There are many varieties of basil that have distinct flavor; Genovese or sweet basil are the varieties most commonly use, but there are also lime, lemon, Thai, and many other varieties of basil. Harvest your basil leaves as needed, and often. Your basil plant will get bushier and produce more leaves if harvested heavily.

Thyme is probably one of the most diverse herb families. There are a wide variety of types of thyme that have different growth habits and looks. There are variegated varieties that have yellow and green, or white and green leaves; there are varieties with wooly leaves that grow very low to the ground; there are varieties that have very small green leaves that grow up to 10″ tall. Each of the different varieties has a very different flavor profile, and a different use. Thyme is not only used for it’s culinary properties, but is also used as a water-wise ground cover that grows prolifically and produces large flushes of white, pink and purple flowers. It might be the easiest to grow of all the herbs, and has a lovely smell. You can harvest it often, and use it fresh or dried.

Cactus & Tropicals has the best selection of fresh, healthy and unique house plants and flowers, elegant garden accessories and gifts. In spring and summer visit us for low maintenance and water wise xeric plants, beautiful native, trees, shrubs and perennials, steppable ground covers and spectacular container gardens, Veggies, herbs and flowers of all types and super cool, winter hardy cactus and succulents fill our exterior nursery with everything you need to create a beautiful space inside and out. Cactus & Tropicals also provides interior, guaranteed plant maintenance for over 800 locations in and around the Salt Lake Valley and is an exquisite location for your wedding reception or other special event. Open year round, 7 days a week in Salt Lake City and Draper Join our Gifts From the Garden Club and receive 20% off of an item of your choice and a variety of discounts and same as cash coupons throughout the year. Visit our website at:

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