Herbs - A few tips and tricks to grow a successful herb garden

3 min read

Herbs - A few tips and tricks to grow a successful herb garden

Now that the weather has warmed, it is time for herbs – and while herbs are pretty easy to grow,  there are a few bits to know in order to have a great herb garden.

Basil loves the heat –  the biggest mistake we see is putting Basil outside when the nights are still cold. Buy your Basil now but keep it indoors till the weather really warms in June. Also,  with Basil, try different types. We all like Sweet Basil – but give a try to the Lettuce Leaf Basil or to the small-leafed Globe Basil or the Spicy types... there are many great Basil varieties on the market. 

Cilantro is great – but it is a little hard to grow and there are few tricks:

  • Never let it flower. Keep pinching off/harvesting the leaves and as you do that make sure you pull off or pinch off any flower buds.
  • Replant all season. We like to buy Cilantro plants in the spring – and also buy Cilantro seeds and reseed under the plants every 4-6 weeks all season long. This keeps a fresh supply of young plants ready as the older plants go to seed.

Don’t overfeed herbs.  We like herbs growing at a leisurely pace and want to typically harvest leaves not flowers.  So if our Petunias and our hanging baskets need a lot of plant food – our herbs typically are to light feeder side of that continuum.  A little granular plant food when you plant is often plenty.

Don’t overwater herbs.  Most of the herb world does not like wet feet. Rosemary and Sage like it dry – we see Basil often over watered and unhappy. It is ok to let the herb garden dry a bit between watering.  If your garden tends to be on the wet side, a few herbs can tolerate more soil moisture – Mints, Lemongrass and Bee Balm are examples of herbs that can have slightly wet feet

Keep Mint in solitary confinement!
We like to plant Mint off by itself – as it typically spreads too much. An even better idea is to plant Mint in a small plot that has garden edging cut into the soil to keep the Mint from spreading to other areas of the garden or consider only planting Mint in a patio pot for the same reason.

Know your lavenders! There are three basic types of lavender  - and they are all a little different.

  • English Lavender - angustifolia types- is a tender perennial in most of Ontario and is pretty common. These are usually very fragrant – and depending on the variety get about 40-60 cm (16-24”) tall.
  • French Lavender ( dententa) and Spanish Lavender (L. stochus) are both annual types in Ontario so will not winter over. Both tend to be taller than English Lavender and both French and Spanish Lavenders tend to be used for their ornamental value rather than fragrance. French Lavender typically gets to about 1m tall and most of the Spanish Lavender series get about to 60 cm.
  • Just to complicate the ‘3 types’ of Lavender scenario – those pesky plant breeders sometimes make crosses between them – one that looks pretty great is a new cross called Lavendula x intermedia'Phenomenal' -  it is sort of a best of all worlds plant that will winter over – handles the heat of summer – and has good fragrance.