Not all herbs thrive in the same conditions. Use these tips to successfully combine different herbs in your garden or a planter.
Updated on May 9, 2023
Planting herbs to grow is a simple way to add beauty to your garden, enhance the flavor of food, bring fragrance to your home, and even enhance your well-being. Growing these aromatic plants is doable, even if you’re a beginner gardener. Most herbs grow as easily in containers as they do in the ground. There are even herbs to grow together in one container. Once you know what to plant together for the best results and the conditions they need, you’ll be on your way to creating an herb garden that will bring beauty to your yard and exciting flavors to your meals.
What Is an Herb?
When it comes to herbs, you probably think of plants used to add flavor to your favorite meals. However, the whole category of herbs is more extensive than that. Herbs are any plant used for food, well-being, flavoring, or scent—a broad definition that includes a lot of plants. To put the number of herbs into perspective, there are about 100 kinds of herbs and flowers in the National Library of Medicine herb garden.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common herbs to grow to help you understand what herbs can be planted together in your garden successfully.
Types of Herbs to Grow and Their Uses
Before you plant herbs, you need to know about the three main types: annuals, biennials, and perennials. The difference between these herb types is the plant’s life cycle. Once you know the life spans of herbs, you can decide how and which herbs to grow and figure out whether they need a permanent place in your garden or a temporary location.
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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 to grow are:
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Biennial herbs such as lovage and parsley germinate and grow vegetatively in the first season, go dormant over winter in cold areas, then mature and flower in the second growing season before dying. These herbs have the best flavor the first year that they are seeded.
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 essential with perennial herbs. If you plan to grow herbs in poorly drained areas, consider building raised beds. Some of the most common perennial herbs are:
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What are the Herbs to Grow in Full Sun?
Plants that need full sun grow best in direct, unfiltered sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Plant the following in full sun for the most flavorful, beneficial, and fragrant herbs.
- Salad Burnet
What are the 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 intense but prefer to be shaded from direct afternoon sun. Each of these shade-loving plants requires partial shade growing conditions.
Herbs to Grow 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, choose herbs to grow in one container requiring the same amount of light, water, and soil nutrition.
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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 herbs to grow 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
Planting herbs to grow 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:
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Verbena
- Scented Geranium
- Sweet Bay
What Herbs Not to Grow 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. For example, tansy, catnip, comfrey, horseradish, lemon balm, hops, artemisia, and mint should not be planted together with other herbs because they spread aggressively unless you control them. To keep these herbs from spreading in your garden, it’s best to grow 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 of 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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