13 Easy Herbs to Grow

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When I planted my garden in 2014, I included a space for herbs. I called this section of my backyard paradise the Apothecary Garden. In Medieval times, the person who sold herbs for medicinal purposes were called apothecaries.

At that time, I had no idea the role herbs would play in my future life. I just knew I loved the way herbs smelled. My desire for an herbal garden stemmed from my intention to cook with fresh herbs and to dry them, creating my own potpourri, teas and skin products. (Read about the birth of my Apothecary Garden.)

Six growing seasons later, the Apothecary Garden thrives. It provides fresh herbs and brings me much joy. This year I am expanding the herb garden, adding more plants and new varieties of existing herbs.

Most herbs are very easy to grow, tucking them into the ground or in containers. Apartment dwellers can grow herbs as easily as homeowners with big yards. They simply require 4 – 6 hours of direct sun, good soil, and proper drainage.

To get you started, here are 13 easy to grow herbs.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

 

Basil

Considered an annual, basil that is allowed to flower and go to seed produces volunteer plants the following summer. There are many varieties to choose from including one with dark purple leaves. Fragrant basil grows best in a sunny location.

Dill

Pungent and flavorful, use the leaves, yellow flowers and seeds in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Leave some plants with seeds, as they too will produce volunteer plants the next year. Grow dill in a sunny spot or tuck into a container that receives adequate sunlight.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Mint

One of the easiest herbs to grow, peppermint, spearmint and chocolate mint flourish and return each year. The plants made great ground cover in the garden. Mint does spread  rapidly, so place it in an area where its growth can be controlled. Or plant in large containers. Mint grows well in partial shade to full sun.

Thyme

Another low growing herb, thyme is a perennial, returning year after year. It too makes a wonderful ground cover and can tolerate being walked on. In a container, thyme trails over the edge, partnering well with other herbs in a display. Grow thyme in full sun.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Chives

With their pretty pink blossoms, chives are attractive enough to add to a border garden. Harvest the flowers or the tubular stems to add a subtle onion flavor to dishes. Grow chives in a sunny location in well drained soil, or plant in containers. This plant is perennial.

Lavender

Among the many varieties, English lavender is the most popular form of this wonderfully fragrant herb. It is a perennial that prefers full sun and well drained soil. Include lavender in the herb garden, flower border or in containers.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Chamomile

This well known herb thrives in full sun to partial shade. Sow chamomile seeds, which can be ordered here, in late spring directly on the ground or in a container. Use the flowers fresh or dried to create a soothing tea.

Lemon Balm

This extremely easy to grow herb offers a strong lemony scent and flavor with a hint of mint. A perennial, lemon balm is another plant that can take over the garden, if not controlled. Grow in a full sun to partial shade or tuck into a container.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Bee Balm

A perennial, bee balm, like mint and lemon balm, is simple to grow. And it too likes to spread. Bee balm’s gorgeous pink, white or purple flowers do indeed attract bees and butterflies. Use the flowers or the leaves to brew a fragrant cup of tea. Bee balm prefers full sun but moist soil, so surround the plants with a layer of mulch.

Lemongrass

Resembling ornamental grasses, the tall flavorful leaves and tender bulbs of lemongrass are used in soups or teas. An annual in most regions of the US, lemongrass must be replanted each spring. Place in full sun and keep the soil well watered.

Sage

Sage’s grayish green or variegated leaves add rich flavor to foods and teas. The flowers are edible as well. Grow in full sun in well drained soil or in container combos. Low growing sage makes a great border plant also.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Fennel

Fennel’s leaves resemble dill leaves. Very easy to grow, fennel provides a subtle licorice flavor to dishes. The dried seeds make a fragrant tea. Grow in a sunny location.

Rosemary

This shrubby herb can grow tall enough to resemble a small tree or train it to climb a wall or trellis. Rosemary requires a hot, dry, sunny location or it thrives in a container placed in direct sunlight. Bring rosemary indoors in the winter and replant in the spring.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Beneficial Herbs

Herbal plants add flavor to foods. I love walking into my garden and pinching off sprigs of fresh herbs to cook with. Actually, I enjoy walking through my herbal garden each evening, as the plants release their amazing scents as I brush the leaves.

Fresh or dried herbs are perfect for brewing health boosting cups of tea. And, as I intended, I create my own potpourri each fall, from the dried leaves and flowers.

When I planted my Apothecary Garden I did not know that in two years my life would shift drastically as I adopted a plant based lifestyle. Herbs play a huge role in keeping me healthy. As I realized the importance of these medicinal plants, I looked in amazement at my hardy and mature Apothecary Garden. What I needed for my health was already here, waiting for me to recognize the significance of my earlier actions.

How magical and enchanted life is. And how beautiful these life giving plants are.

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

Backyard Garden Series

Check out the other posts in this gardening series:

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

Growing Clematis Babies

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent

 

Grow an enchanting herbal tea garden, with this package of seeds. Click photo for link to Amazon.

 


 

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Journey 195: Bee Balm

Today I added a plant to my herb garden. I have a mental list of plants that I am on the lookout for, primarily herbs that can be dried and used in all kinds of helpful and interesting concoctions. Earlier this year I found Calendula seeds and now have that herb with its dark yellow blooms growing in the large black kettle. Recently I found the Bee Balm plant and I am so excited to include it in the garden.

bee balm

Bee Balm is a member of the mint family, along with lavender and basil. All three are beneficial for attracting butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. They produce richly scented blooms and leaves, which can be used for teas when dried. I have basil and lavender in the herb, or apothecary, garden. But I had not found the Bee Balm plant yet.

Also known as wild bergamot and horsemint, Bee Balm is a perennial, native to North American. It typically has wonderfully scented pink, red or light purple blooms on a compact, bushy plant. As my plant doesn’t have blooms yet, I’ll be delightfully surprised by the color.

bee balm 2

Here are some of the uses for Bee Balm:

  • The scent is a natural mosquito repellent, especially when the leaves are crushed to release the oils.
  • It is a soothing skin tonic for dry, itching or sunburned skin. (Boil 1 C of leaves and blooms in 4 C of water for 10 minutes. Let cool and strain. Used on skin or add to bath)
  • Brew as a tea. Bee Balm has a flavor reminiscent of bergamot oranges. The tea has antiseptic qualities, and contains vitamins A and C, making it an excellent soother of sore throats and cold symptoms. The tea is also great for digestive problems, headache and fever. (Brew ¼ C of fresh leaves or 2 t of dried leaves in 1 C of hot water)
  • The antiseptic action of Bee Balm also makes it great for poultices, and as a wash for skin infections and minor wounds. Rinsing the mouth with the tea combats gingivitis, mouth sores and throat infections.
  • The blooms are edible, and somewhat spicy. Add to salads or sandwiches.
  • And, planted near tomatoes, Bee Balm improves the growth and flavor of the tomatoes.

I am excited to include this versatile plant to my collection. I’m looking forward to harvesting and drying leaves and blooms, and creating teas and tinctures. In the meantime, it will grace the herb garden with its beauty and fragrance, while attracting butterflies, bees and other helpful insect allies. The unique bloom reminds me of the thistle plant, which may be the reason I was initially attracted to it. All the more reason to cultivate this amazing herb.

bee balm bloom