Not all herbs thrive in the same conditions. Use these tips to successfully combine different herbs in your garden or a planter.
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Growing herbs is a simple way to add beauty to your garden, enhance the flavor of food, bring fragrance to your home, and even improve your well-being. Even if you're a beginner gardener, growing these aromatic plants is very doable. Most herbs grow as easily in containers as they do in the ground. You can even grow many types of herbs in one container. Once you know what herbs grow best together and the conditions needed to grow them, you'll be on your way to creating an herb garden that will bring beauty to your yard and exciting flavors to your meals. 

person planting herbs in herb garden
Credit: Emely / Getty Images

What Is an Herb?

When it comes to herbs, you probably think of plants that are used in flavoring your favorite meal. However, the whole category of herbs is more extensive than that. In fact, herbs are considered to be any plant that is used for food, medicine, flavoring, or scent—that's a broad definition and includes a lot of plants. To put the number of herbs into perspective, in just the National Library of Medicine herb garden, there are about 100 kinds of herbs and flowers, So, here's a breakdown of the most common types of herbs that will help you understand what herbs can be planted together in your garden successfully.

Types of Herbs and Their Uses

Before you can start planting herbs, you need to know about the three main types of herbs: annuals, biennials, and perennials. The difference between these herb types comes down to the plant's life cycle. Once you know the plant's life span, you can decide how to grow them and figure out whether they need a permanent place in your garden or temporary location.

Annual Herbs

Annual herbs typically complete their life cycle within a single year. Botanically speaking, that means they grow from a seed, bloom, set seeds of their own, and die in one growing season. In some cases, a plant may actually be a perennial in warmer regions, but isn't hardy in colder ones, so is usually treated as an annual. Some of the most common annual herbs are:

Biennial Herbs

Biennial herbs such as lovage and parsley germinate and grow vegetatively the first season, go dormant over winter in cold areas, then mature and flower the second growing season before dying. These herbs have the best flavor the first year that they are seeded.

Perennial Herbs

Perennial herbs don't need to be replanted each year. Once perennial herbs are established, they come back every growing season and only die down in the winter. Well-drained soil is particularly important with perennial herbs. If the area that you plan to grow herbs in is poorly drained, consider building raised beds. Some of the most common perennial herbs are:

What Herbs Grow in Full Sun?

Plants that need full sun are those that grow best in direct, unfiltered sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Plant the following herbs in full sun to get the most flavorful, beneficial, and fragrant herbs.

What Herbs Grow in Part Shade?

Plants that grow best in part shade can take full sun during the morning when the sun isn't as strong, but prefer to be shaded from direct afternoon sun. Each of these shade-loving plants require partial shade growing conditions.

herbs growing in planter including sage and rosemary
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Herbs to Plant Together in a Container

Most herbs make excellent container garden plants. The beauty of growing herbs in containers is that you can easily move your plants around without disturbing them. And for those who garden on a balcony or patio, planting pots of herbs is convenient and the answer to gardening in a small space. In general, it's best to grow the same types of herbs in one container as long as each of the plants require the same amount of light, water, and soil nutrition.

Growing Herbs in a Strawberry Planter

You can use a strawberry jar to plant cascading herbs such as creeping thyme, pennyroyal, marjoram, oregano, and creeping rosemary in the individual pockets. Plant small upright-growing plants in the top, such as parsley, chives, short varieties of basil, or savory. Your plants will thrive in these planters because of the excellent drainage that the multiple pockets provide.

Easiest Herbs to Grow Together Indoors

Growing herbs indoors lets you enjoy fresh-picked herbs year-round. All it takes is transplanting the herbs from the garden to pots and then moving them indoors in fall before freezing weather arrives. The following herbs are great herbs for growing indoors:

What Herbs Not to Plant Together

Some herbs are considered invasive, or can grow quickly enough to crowd other plants and even take over a garden with their underground runners. Tansy, catnip, comfrey, horseradish, lemon balm, hops, artemisia, and all kinds of mint should not be planted together with other herbs because they will spread aggressively unless you control them. To keep these herbs from spreading in your garden, it's best to plant them individually in their own containers.

To add rambunctious herbs such as apple mint, spearmint, and chocolate mint directly to your garden, first submerge a 12-inch pot in the ground, with about an inch or rim above the soil surface to discourage running stems. Then plant your herb in that pot. This technique allows you to enjoy various herb flavors without worrying about aggressive plants taking over your garden

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