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How to Grow Culinary Herbs: The Complete Guides
With a video on How to Grow Herbs in a Container

  • Bob Styer
  • Herbs
An Artistic View Of Herbs An Vegetables In A Rustic Setting.

Are you looking for information about how to grow herbs or start an herb garden?  Well, you’ve come to the right place!  On this page, you’ll find the links to our free guides for growing the most popular culinary herbs. Oh, you can also call them kitchen herbs!

You’ll find the links to these guides a short distance below this paragraph.  Some of these herbs also have medicinal uses, but we’ll be discussing their importance as foods.

Many of these herbs are so easy-going they’re great for beginners. Most of them are easy to grow in window boxes, pots, or with hydroponics.

Think of the wonderful aromas you’ll get from an indoor herb garden. And you’ll be able to reach a short distance to add them to your savory dishes!

Whether you’re an old hand or a beginner, you’ll appreciate the wealth of information in each guide.  Have fun, and get busy growing some of the best culinary herbs and enjoy their fresh flavor.

What Do These Guides Include?

Each guide is a standalone instruction sheet for each herb.  They’re so thorough that you shouldn’t need to search for more information for your culinary herb garden.  The topics in our guides for herbs include:

  • The major types of each herb.
  • Hardiness zones.
  • Preparing the soil.
  • The growing methods, including seeds, cuttings, or rhizomes (depending on the herb).
  • Growing herbs in pots indoors or outdoors.
  • Harvesting the herbs and their seeds (when applicable).
  • Storing fresh herbs in the fridge or freezer.
  • Drying herbs in the oven, microwave, dehydrator, or open air.
  • Companion plants for common herbs.
  • Prevention and treatment of herb diseases and pests.

More Information About Growing Culinary Herbs

Video: How to Grow Herbs in Pots

Can Herbs Grow in Pots?

Almost all herbs are happy growing in pots.  This can be important in an area with cold winters.  That way, you can move tender perennial herbs indoors for the winter.

We’ve personally had great success growing many herbs in pots.  We found that the average family would have a plentiful supply with only two or three plants for any herb.  Growing more than that will give you enough to sell or give away.

Some important points:

  • The herb you want to grow determines the size of the pot.  Some herbs will get “root bound” if the pot is too small.  Other herbs have long tap roots or propagate by rhizomes or runners that can fill a pot.
  • Use potting mix in pots.  This is because potting soil by itself gets too dense in pots and doesn’t drain well.  To use potting soil, mix three parts with one part each of compost and perlite.  That’s an excellent way to improve fertility and drainage.
  • Terra-cotta pots are good for some herbs, but they cause the soil to dry faster.  They can also crack if they freeze when they’re wet.
  • An interesting herb to grow in pots is bay laurel, the source of bay leaves.  It can grow as a decorative tree when planted in the ground.  When trimmed, it will happily grow as a potted shrub.

See our growing guides for specific information about growing each herb in pots.  This information is important since growing some herbs in pots is better.

One example is the mint family.  They’ll quickly take over a large area if grown in the garden.  They’re easier to control if grown in pots.

How Do You Grow Herbs From Seeds?

Herbs grown herbs from seeds might take some preparation.  This could include:

  • Cold Stratification.  With this method, you refrigerate seeds for a while to simulate exposure to winter.  A well-known example would be rosemary seeds.
  • Pre-soaking.  The seeds soak in warm water for 24 hours before planting. Many gardeners prepare herb seeds this way.

See our guides to learn about any seeds that need preparation.

Starting seeds early is a great way to have seedlings ready to transplant when the growing season starts in early spring.

Here’s a handy tip to remember when learning how to grow an herb garden. Plant the seeds early by putting them in peat pots or trays filled with potting mix.

Peat containers make it easier to transplant to bigger pots, raised beds, or the garden.  They also protect delicate roots from damage during transplanting.

After planting the seeds in peat containers, put them in a warm area.  Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.  At this point, some seeds don’t need sunlight, but others need sunlight to sprout.  You can set up grow lights for these seeds.

Once the seeds sprout, they’ll soon develop true green leaves.  This is when all the sprouts will need grow lights or exposure to sunlight.

The seedlings are ready to transplant when they’re 3 – 4 inches tall.  Some herbs have specific needs, so check our guides for more information. Are you starting a no-till garden? Any of the kitchen herbs would be a perfect addition to it.

When you’re in the natural hardiness zone for an herb, you could always directly plant the seeds in well-drained soil.  This needs done at the right time of the year and after any cold stratification or pre-soaking.

Despite that, it’s better to start the seeds early.  That way, there’s time to correct for any seeds that don’t germinate.

How Do You Grow Herbs From Cuttings?

This is a great way to get more plants from a single plant.  Cut the branches about four inches long, but don’t take more than 1/3 of a single plant.  Make the cuts at an angle so the cut surface will be larger.

Remove the leaves from the bottom two inches of the cuttings.  Put the cuttings in a clear jar or cup containing about 1-1/2 inches of water.  Ensure no leaves touch the water, or they’ll rot.

The clear container makes it easier to see if the water turns cloudy and also to check the roots as they grow.  Change the water when it starts getting cloudy.

Once the roots are about two inches long, transplant the cuttings to pots, raised beds, or the garden. Ensure the cuttings are in well-draining soil.

Many herbs can grow from seeds or cuttings.  One exception is French tarragon since it doesn’t produce viable seeds.  That means it can only grow from cuttings.  See our tarragon growing guide for more information about this interesting culinary herb.

What Are Fines Herbes?

This is a mixture of fresh herbs used in French cuisine.  It consists of chopped chives, parsley, chervil, and tarragon.

Fines herbes make a great addition to salads and are excellent in dishes with short cooking times.  This would include eggs, chicken, fish, and sauces.

What Are Herbes de Provence?

Unlike fines herbes, this is a mixture of dried herbs.  Many different herb mixtures make up herbes de Provence.

The basic mixture includes thyme, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, parsley, and fennel.  The basic mixture includes thyme, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, parsley, and fennel.  Use these herbs with soups, stews, salads, roasted vegetables, chicken and fish.

What is a Bouquet Garni?

This is a bundle of fresh herbs a chef hangs in a pot of soup or sauce and then removes after cooking.  Dried herbs can make a bouquet garni by tying them in cheesecloth.  You can also purchase premade bags for this.

Any herbs you like can be part of a bouquet garni, but it usually includes bay leaf, parsley, and thyme.  The trick to making bouquet garni is balancing strong herbs so they don’t overpower mild herbs.  Here are the categories:

  • Strong Herbs.  Thyme, rosemary, garlic, sage, oregano, and tarragon.
  • Mild Herbs.  Parsley, dill, basil, bay leaf, marjoram, and chervil.

To get different flavor profiles, try these combinations:

  • Hot.  Garlic, cilantro, cumin, and chili peppers.
  • Mediterranean.  Savory, sage, and rosemary.
  • Italian.  Sage, rosemary, oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and savory.
  • Classic.  Bay leaf, basil, parsley, and oregano.
  • Sweet.  Nutmeg, anise, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.
  • Herbal.  Rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and basil.
  • Pungent.  Chili peppers, curry, whole black pepper, ginger, cumin, and celery.

How Do You Harvest Herbs?

This is one of the areas where herbs show their versatility.  You can pick the green leaves off herbs as soon as they grow.

Please don’t take more than 1/3 of the leaves from any plant.  Removing more can damage the plant.  Herbs love it; they grow bushier as you harvest the leaves from the stems.

With herbs, you’re not waiting for anything to “ripen.”  You’re harvesting as things appear.  Even with rhizome plants like turmeric or ginger, you know you can harvest fresh roots when new shoots appear.

How Long Can You Store Fresh Herbs?

This depends on the herb, and we have all the information for each one in the guides.

Some fresh herbs will store up to two weeks in the refrigerator, but others will only last a few days.  Freezing fresh herbs will keep them usable for up to six months, but not all herbs like the freezer.

How Do You Dry Herbs?

Here are four main ways to dry herbs:

  • Air-drying – Takes the longest time.  Herbs won’t air-dry in high humidity.
  • Oven or air fryer – Can scorch herbs if the heat is too high or dried too long.
  • Dehydrator – Can also scorch herbs, but much less risky than the oven.
  • Microwave – Takes the shortest time.

Check our herb guides above for specific information about drying herbs.  The above methods can vary depending on the herb.

Can You Dry Herbs in the Sun?

Sun drying can be problematic since sunlight can bleach the color from drying herbs.

Drying in sunlight also causes herbs to lose their flavor.

Do Herbs Like Full Sun or Shade?

We’ve found that few herbs like constant sunlight.  Most prefer 6 – 8 hours of sunlight daily, so partial shade isn’t a problem.  Some herbs planted in direct sunlight will bolt early on sweltering summer days.

See our guides on culinary herbs for specific information about each herb.

Can Herbs Grow in Water?

Hydroponics is the science of growing plants in water.  And many annual herbs are easy to grow this way.  See our article on Indoor Gardening Kits for more information.

Do Herbs Make Good Companion Plants?

Many herbs can repel pests and attract helpful insects.  Since there are so many combinations, you’ll have to check our culinary herb growing guides.  They have the information for each herb. 

Some herbs even improve the flavor of certain fruits, vegetables, or other herbs. Two classic examples are tomatoes and basil, or dill and cilantro.

Herbs with the same growing conditions can happily live close together.  That way, they can multiply their benefits.  But combining herbs that like drier soil with herbs that like moister soil can cause problems.

For all the information you need, please see our article about companion planting.  This article has a downloadable chart covering companion planting for herbs and vegetables.

Final Thoughts

Herbs are a great addition to any garden, and many annual herbs are easy starters for beginners.

Perennial herbs like ginger and turmeric will grow inside anywhere if they can get some sunlight.  They’re also renowned for their beautiful flowers.

With all the aromas, flavors, and beautiful flowers, you never lose growing herbs.  We hope our guides on growing the most popular culinary herbs give you all the information you need.

Bob Styer

As a child, I hated gardening. That was mainly because Dad expected us to work in the garden every so often even though we thought play was more important. Over the years, though, I've developed a real appreciation for growing things. Whether you're growing plants for food or to enjoy their beauty, gardening can make your life better. Seize the moment!

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