There’s nothing like the taste of herbs picked fresh from your own garden! They’re so easy to grow, whether in beds, borders, containers or on windowsills and with our full range of seeds and plants, growing your own herbs has never been easier. Many herbs can also be grown all the year round and will save you buying expensive supermarket produce.
Annual or Perennial?
When creating a herb garden or deciding which herbs to grow in containers, it’s worth knowing whether your chosen herb is annual, biennial or perennial. Annual and biennial herbs such as Basil, Coriander, Parsley, Dill and Chervil are fast growing and may need to be sown at intervals throughout spring and summer to ensure you have a continuous fresh supply.
Perennial herbs such as Oregano, Mint, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Chives are slower growing and will require a more permanent home.
|Annual and Biennial Herbs||Perennial Herbs|
|Mexican Marigold (Sweet Mace)||Lemon Balm|
Ideally herbs should be grown in a sunny, sheltered location with well drained soil. If you have heavy clay soil then incorporate some coarse grit and organic matter such as well-rotted manure, compost (new or spent compost) or recycled green waste to improve drainage. You may benefit from growing herbs in a raised bed to ensure sharp drainage.
The best soil pH for growing herbs is neutral to alkaline although most herbs will tolerate a slightly acid soil. If you have very acid soil then add some lime when preparing the planting area. Many herbs such as Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Lavender are useful for coastal gardens.
Although most herbs prefer a sunny position there are a few which will happily grow in shady conditions and moist soil, such as Chervil, Parsley, Meadowsweet, Mint, Lemon balm and Chives.
Growing Herbs Outside
You can grow herbs outside in a dedicated herb garden, a raised bed, a vegetable plot or even amongst the flowers in your borders! Herbs come in an array of different foliage and flower colours so they can be both decorative and useful for culinary purposes.
When to Grow Herbs Outdoors
If you are growing herbs from seed then hardy annual or biennial herbs such as Parsley, Coriander, Dill and Chamomile can be sown from March until August.
Sow at intervals of three to four weeks to ensure a continuous supply of fresh leaves. All of these easy to grow herbs can be sown directly into their final position outdoors – this is especially important for Chervil and Dill as they are difficult to transplant successfully.
Alternatively you can sow many of these herbs under cover in seed trays or modules and plant them out at a later date – always follow the instructions on individual seed packets. Basil is only half-hardy so must be sown in spring under cover in warmth. Seedlings can be pricked out and grown on in warmth; planting out after all risk of frost has passed. You may find basil performs well indoors on a sunny windowsill if the summer is particularly wet or cold.
Seeds of perennial herbs such as Sage, Rosemary, Chives and Fennel should be sown in the spring under cover in warmth, and then potted on when large enough to handle. Harden off plants in a cold frame before planting out into their final positions.
Where to Grow Herbs Outdoors
Growing herbs outdoors in a dedicated herb garden makes harvesting easier and will create a rich scent on hot sunny days! You could make a herb garden quite ornamental by combining the silver-grey foliage of lavender or sage with the blue flowers of borage or the orange flowers of Calendula (Pot Marigold) (both of whose flowers are edible). There are also great variations in foliage colour with herbs such as Thyme, Basil.
Herbs also make a great addition to flower beds and borders if you don’t have the space for a dedicated herb garden. Use herbs with colourful leaves to offset flower colours or to provide different textures throughout the bed. Try using low-growing herbs such as Chives and Thyme as an informal edge to a path. Herbs such as Thyme and Creeping Savory can also be planted in the gaps in paving and patios and will withstand light foot traffic; releasing their delicious scent when walked on. The tall, feathery foliage of fennel looks good in a herbaceous border and the yellow flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies.
Growing herbs in the vegetable garden is a good way to obtain large quantities of your favourite herbs and to allow for successional sowing of fast-growing types. Parsley, Coriander, Dill and Chervil can be sown in rows directly into the soil amongst the vegetables, or as an edging to beds. Sown in late summer, herbs such as Coriander, Parsley and Chervil will continue to grow throughout winter if given protection with a cloche.
Growing Herbs in Pots and Containers