There’s something magical about a garden, whether you’re growing vegetables, flowers, or herbs. Coaxing life from a tiny seed—and watching a fragile little seedling grow into a flourishing plant—can be deeply restorative.
Why Grow Herbs?
Herbs are one of the most rewarding kinds of plants to grow because they serve so many purposes. You can snip a few stems of Peppermint and brew your own tea on a frosty winter morning or dry your own Oregano and use it to flavor hearty stews. Other herbs, like Echinacea, serve a dual purpose: they have medicinal benefits, yet they’re pretty enough to grow just for the flowers alone.
Another reason to grow herbs? To fight climate change. Even a small plot or patio garden can have a positive effect on our environment. Organically rich soil acts as a carbon sink and draws CO2 down from the atmosphere, actually reversing climate change. Growing herbs is good for your health, and also the health of the environment.
It’s Easier Than You Think!
You don’t need to have a large garden to grow herbs. If you’ve got a patio or balcony, you can grow them in containers. Some herbs will even flourish in pots or mason jars on a sunny kitchen window sill. And growing plants inside during the winter can bring some welcome cheer to the dark, cold days.
6 Herbs That An Amateur Gardener Can Grow
If you‘re looking for versatile herbs you can grow on a window sill or outdoors, why not start with one of our favorites:
How to use: Peppermint is traditionally chewed whole to freshen the breath or sipped in a tea to soothe digestive upsets (hence the tradition of the after-dinner mint).*
How to grow: Peppermint is easy to grow, but many people prefer to keep it in a pot because it spreads aggressively throughout the garden. This hardy plant can survive cold temperatures. Grow it from seed or from a cutting: just put a stem in water and it will sprout roots!
How to use: This delightfully citrusy herb has long been enjoyed as a tea to gently calm the nerves.*
How to grow: Another member of the mint family, Lemon Balm spreads easily, so it’s best to grow it in a container, either inside or out. All this plant asks of you—aside from water—is a little shade. If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate, Lemon Balm will reward you with green leaves all year long.
How to use: People have been sprinkling Oregano (fresh or dry) to season their meals and help make their food delicious for millennia. But did you know you can use Oregano essential oil for cleaning kitchen surfaces? Some people also take it when they feel an immune challenge coming on.*
How to grow: Oregano is native to warm climates, but it can survive cold winters. Bonus: It’s a perennial, so you can enjoy the same plant for years (though the leaves start to lose their potency after three to four years). In general, the more sun Oregano gets, the more flavorful the leaves.
How to use: Holy Basil is an Adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to stress.* Also called Tulsi, this relaxing herb can be made into a soothing tea.*
How to grow: Holy Basil is closely related to Italian Basil, the common kitchen herb. It needs a lot of sun, so if you grow it indoors, keep it in a sunny spot and replant frequently for a steady supply. You can also start Holy Basil seedlings inside during the spring and then move them outdoors when the danger of frost has passed. If you move it outside, harvest all the leaves before the first frost. Basil doesn’t like the cold!
Some herbs have to be strictly planted outdoors, like these two stunners:
How to use: Many people grow Echinacea for ornamental purposes, or to attract butterflies or finches to the garden, but it is used medicinally to support the immune system.*
How to grow: First things first: If you grow Echinacea, you’ll want to plant it somewhere prominent in the garden, because the cone-shaped flowers are lovely. They come in many colors—including white, red, and yellow—but the most common color is purple. Grow Echinacea in full to partial sun in well-drained soil. Most plants will bloom in the second year, so if you want flowers the first year, buy seedlings rather than planting seeds.
How to use: Valerian has been used since ancient times for supporting restful sleep.* It can be taken in a tincture or brewed as a tea, but since the taste is strong, many people prefer to take capsules.
How to grow: Another pretty garden flower, Valerian produces clumps of tiny, fragrant white flowers on majestic stalks that can grow to be several feet tall. Those of you living in cold climates will be happy to know Valerian is frost-tolerant and a perennial. Grow it in full to partial sun, in well-drained soil. You can start the seeds indoors or buy seedlings for a head start.
Your Garden Should Be A Place for Fun
Many people see growing a garden as a daunting task. However, gardening can be fun and rewarding and you can choose your favorite plants and herbs to grow to truly to make it your own. When you enjoy gardening, it’s no longer a chore and is instead a fulfilling hobby that offers tangible rewards. And remember, you don’t need a green thumb to grow herbs—just follow the directions above and soon you’ll have your own little garden. Happy growing!