Herbs

Growing herbs is a simple way to add edible plants to your garden. Most herbs are very versatile, and grow well in the ground or in containers. Herbs, which generally are annuals except in very warm climates, make a great addition to a traditional flower garden, and are also a pretty, practical accent to windowboxes or containers near a grill or outside a kitchen door. If you're unfamiliar with growing herbs, or simply want to find out how to tend less-familiar varieties of these edible plants, the Herbs section of the Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia includes details on growing requirements for each herb, such as sunlight or shade, water preferences, and USDA Hardiness Zones. You'll also learn expert tips for growing the most delicious herbs possible, as well as ideas for using herbs in your favorite recipes. View a list of herbs by common name or scientific name below.
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount

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Caraway

This biennial develops ferny foliage its first year in the garden and bears white flowers and seeds the second year. The seeds are most commonly used to flavor rye and other breads, but all parts of the plant are edible. Caraway prefers a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil. Although the plant tolerates drought, don't let the soil dry out completely.

Comfrey

Comfrey leaves are full of nutrients that make a natural high-potassium fertilizer or addition to compost. This perennial herb sends down deep roots that pull nutrients into the plant's large, hairy leaves. It grows best in moist sites high in organic matter. Common comfrey, Symphytum officinale, is a vigorous plant that can grow up to 4 feet tall. The plant spreads by rhizomes and can become invasive.

Calamint

Calamint is dotted with masses of tiny flowers that attract butterflies from midsummer until frost. The small white or pale lavender blooms make a good substitute for baby's breath. Calamint is a member of the mint family, but it doesn't spread by runners, so it usually remains well behaved in the garden. However, it can self-seed and occasionally pops up elsewhere in the landscape. Grow calamint in a location with good drainage for a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant perennial with airy texture. 

Angelica

Angelica is a tall, hardy biennial herb with dramatic stalks that can be candied and used on cakes or cookies. The first year, the plant produces beautiful frilly green foliage. The second year, angelica sends up flower stalks and then produces seeds. The flowers and foliage make a dramatic back-of-the-border accent in perennial beds. The celery-flavor stems may be eaten raw or candied for use in baking. Use the dried root in tea. Plants might self-sow, but plant new angelica each year to ensure a constant supply. Grow it in full sun or dappled shade in rich, organic soil.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is an eye-catching perennial that displays lance-shape succulent leaves decorated with white spots and edged with small whitish teeth. The leaves are known for their gel-like sap often used to soothe burns and moisturize skin. Native to hot, dry regions of Africa, this herbaceous perennial prefers frost-free, sunny, well-drained sites where the night temperature never dips below 50 degrees F. Thankfully, adaptable aloe vera makes a great houseplant; use it on its own or let it add vertical interest to a container of vining houseplants, such as philodendron or ivy. Exceptionally easy to grow, aloe vera is a good choice for a new gardener.

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More Herbs

Savory

The flavor of savory is best described as peppery with a hint of oregano. This herb packs a delightful flavor punch and is easy-to-grow. Summer savory has a fine, feathery texture. An annual, summer savory (Satureja hortensis) foliage turns a striking shade of bronze-purple in late summer. Use it as an ornamental and culinary plant in the landscape. It’s a delightful addition to cottage gardens and flower beds. Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a perennial plant with stiff foliage and a stronger flavor than summer savory. 

Stevia

Stevia develops sweet-tasting foliage that's an excellent alternative to sugar or artificial sweeteners. Given enough moisture, this tropical plant thrives in containers or in the landscape. Just be sure to plant it where the soil drains well; stevia will not thrive in constantly wet soil and resents heavy clay. Avoid using high nitrogen fertilizers. In northern climates, move stevia indoors before frost hits and treat it like a houseplant.


Oregano

This aromatic perennial is easy to grow in a sunny bed or container.