Most herbs are easy to grow in the home garden. Even if you have limited time and space for gardening, you should consider planting at least a few herbs.
Their intense flavor means that you can grow enough to season many meals in a small space. Many, including those on the list below, are also sturdy and easy to grow.
11 Easy Herbs To Grow In The Home Garden
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Basil has a fresh distinctive flavor that’s hard to describe and also hard to forget once you’ve tasted it. Along with garlic, it’s the dominant flavor in pesto, and it’s also part of classic Italian seasoning blends. It’s often used in tomato and egg dishes. I also like it in all sorts of savory salads–green, pasta, potato, etc.
Basil is an annual, meaning you’ll need to replant it every spring. It’s also frost-sensitive. Plant it, or transplant it outside after starting it in a sunny window, after the last spring frost. Read all about basil, one of our favorite warm-weather herbs.
If you want to keep it going into the fall and winter, put it into a pot and bring it inside before the first frost. Basil bushes may grow one or two feet high and spread 20-30 inches, depending on the variety and the growing conditions.
Chives have a fresh sweet onion flavor that goes well in many dishes. I particularly like them in meat or vegetable stir-fries, and also in omelets and soups. My brother, who likes raw onions as I do not, also chops large quantities of chives into his green salads.
Chives are perennials that will grow and spread aggressively. They are winter-hardy as far north as Zone 3. Chives grow 12-18 inches high and spread indefinitely until you divide them.
Dill is the classic pickle flavoring, but its uses go far beyond that. I especially like the flavor it gives fish and potato dishes. It adds zing and freshness to borscht, and also to other soups. And its delicate, feathery leaves make a beautiful garnish.
Dill is also helpful to the other plants in your garden because it attracts beneficial insects. This includes pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as predator insects that will eat the insects that eat your plants.
Dill is an annual, but if you let it go to seed it will probably propagate itself just fine. I planted a 3×3 patch of dill in the corner of my 50×200 vegetable garden one year, and dill has been coming up all over the garden ever since. Dill plants are tall and slender, growing up to 4 feet tall and spreading up to 2 feet wide.
Garlic adds zest to all sorts of cooked savory dishes. I especially enjoy it in pesto and hummus and in tomato sauces. It’s also good for your immune system.
Garlic is an overwintering annual. Set garlic cloves into your garden in fall for a late summer harvest the following year. I plant mine in a 6″ grid and they grow about 2 feet high. It’s extremely hardy–the Alaska Gardening Extension Office says you can grow garlic in Zone 0 so long as you’re not actually in the permafrost.
Lavender would be worth growing simply for its sweet subtle scent and its attractiveness to pollinators. But it also makes a delicious soothing herb tea and a pleasant potpourri. You can also use lavender buds to flavor fruit salads and desserts.
Lavender is a perennial. English lavender is hardy as far north as zone 4 or 5, while French lavender prefers warmer climates.
Lavenders can spread up to 2 feet, according to the books (larger, in my experience, if I don’t divide them when I should). Some will grow up to 3 feet high, though other varieties stay shorter.
Mint has a fresh vibrant flavor that can perk up a wide variety of foods and drinks. I enjoy it in hot tea during the cold season and in lemonade during the summer heat. It’s also often used in alcoholic drinks.
Naturally, it goes well in fruit salads and in many desserts. It also gives a freshness and zing to meat dishes. And when I drop a sprig of mint into my frozen peas before cooking them, they taste almost as though they were fresh out of the garden.
Mint is a very sturdy and spready perennial that is practically impossible to kill. For this reason, you may want to plant it inside a container, or in the middle of a mowed lawn, so that it doesn’t take over your herb garden. See this article for easy ways to keep mint from spreading out of control
Peppermint is hardy to Zone 3. Some other varieties are more frost-sensitive. It can grow up to 3 feet tall (some varieties are smaller, but a few may grow taller) and it will keep spreading until it hits a wall or you dig it out.
Oregano is another classic ingredient of Italian seasoning. Its leaves are tougher and more strongly flavored than basil’s. I particularly like it in tomato dishes and on poultry.
Oregano is a sturdy, spready perennial which is hardy as far north as zone 4 or 5. It can grow up to 2 feet tall, though some varieties stay shorter, and it will keep spreading until you divide it.
Parsley has a clear fresh palate-cleansing flavor somewhat reminiscent of celery. It’s often used as a garnish because of its delicate leaves, firm texture, and bright color.
Parsley also features in pesto and in various herbal salad dressings. Egg, potato, meat, fish, and poultry dishes may especially benefit from parsley’s crisp flavor. It’s also sometimes chewed as a breath freshener after meals.
Parsley is a biennial, meaning it goes to seed and then dies in the year after you plant it. It’s a bit tricky to start from seed, but it will self-sow readily if you let plants go to seed in the garden. Depending on the variety you choose, parsley may grow 9-18 inches high and spread 6 to 9 inches.
Rosemary has a rich complex flavor. It’s often used to season fish, lamb, and strongly flavored meats, but it can also be infused into puddings or other milky sweets.
Rosemary is a perennial, but unless you live in Zone 7 or warmer it will need to be brought inside, or at least given extra protection, over the winter. Plants grown in the soil in warm climates can reach 6 feet high. My own potted rosemary stays below 2 feet here in zone 4. Spread is similarly variable.
Sage has a strong sharp flavor most traditionally associated with poultry and stuffing, though it’s also used to flavor everything from apple jelly to sausages. It’s also widely believed to be calming, antiseptic, and good for the digestion.
Sage is a perennial. Some books say it’s hardy to Zone 6; mine overwinters fine in zone 4/5 with no special protection. Hardiness may depend on the variety you’re growing. Size certainly does.
Thyme has a clear pungent flavor that I particularly like in corn or fish chowder, in potato salad, and on all sorts of meats. Leaves are somewhat tough and it’s best to cook them for a long time. Thyme will also help to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. It’s highly drought tolerant and very hard to kill.
Thyme is perennial, hardy to Zone 3. Many varieties are fairly low-growing, staying well under a foot high. It will spread aggressively until you divide it.
Herb Growing Tips for Beginners
These herbs are fairly easy for a new gardener to grow. Here are a few tips to help your garden thrive:
Pick a sunny spot with well-drained soil. All the herbs listed here will tolerate dry soil, but many will struggle if they get soggy.
Give your new plants plenty of space. They may be tiny when you bring them home from the store, but they will spread more rapidly than you imagine. Weed them well and don’t let them dry out during the first month or so while they’re getting established. After that, they’ll be more able to take care of themselves.
Which Herbs Will You Grow Next?
All of the herbs on our easy-to-grow list will liven up your food without adding too much stress and confusion to your gardening life. Once they get started, they will continue to thrive with just a little care.
After practicing with these you may find it easier to take on fussier herbs and expand your herb garden, and your palette!