Herbs

Herbs bring life to the garden, our dinner plates, and even fresh bouquets. We love cooking with fresh herbs, or just pinching & smelling a leaf as we walk by. Many herbs can also be dried and used throughout the year.

Basil, Aroma
Ocimum basilicum
Annual, up to 2’. Classic Italian herb with medium-sized leaves and wonderful flavor. This variety has some resistance to the downy mildew that has plagued mid-summer basil throughout the Midwest in recent years. Pinch central stalk to encourage more branching. Remove flower heads to extend the harvest. Great for pesto and margherita pizzas!

Thai Basil, Siam Queen
Ocicum basiclicum var thyrsiflora
Annual, up to 2’. Delicious Thai basil with sweet, clove-like scent. Lime green leaves with beautiful purple stems and flowers. Perfect in curry, pho, or pesto. Less susceptible to downy mildew. Pinch central stalk to encourage more branching. Remove flower heads to extend the harvest.

Bronze Fennel
Foeniculum vulgare
Annual, up to 3’. Beautiful copper-bronzey red feathery foliage. Sweet anise flavor and fragrance like standard fennel, but does not produce bulbs. Tender leaf tips can be used in salads, added to bread, seafood, or tossed with roasted vegetables. Beautiful yellow umbel flowers. Attractive to swallowtail butterflies and caterpillars. Can self-sow. Enjoys full sun and well-drained soil.

Chamomile
Matricaria recutita
Annual, up to 1’. 50 days. The [white and] gold standard for bedtime teas. Ferny green foliage has a lovely green apple aroma. Harvest flowers when the petals begin to fall back from the bright yellow centers. Use fresh or lay out on a screen and allow to dry. Enjoys full sun and well-drained soil.

Dill, Bouquet
Anethum graveolens
Annual, up to 2’. Prefers well-drained soil and full sun. Produces large yellow umbel flowers during summer then goes to seed, often germinating again in fall. Leaves can be used fresh, frozen, or dried. Flowers are excellent added to a batch of cucumber pickles. The dill plant is also an important food source for the caterpillar stage of swallowtail butterflies.

Fenugreek
Trigonella foenum-graecum
Annual, up to 3’. A member of the legume family, fenugreek has fragrant edible leaves that can be used fresh in salads or as a garnish to curries. Flowers in late summer; seeds can be collected and dried and used as seasoning. Prefers full to partial sun and well-drained soil.

Garlic Chives
Allium tuberosum
Perennial, up to 1’. Enjoys well-drained soil and full to partial sun. Also called Chinese Chives or Chinese Leeks. Garlic chives look similar to traditional chives but have flat leaves. Plants produce a beautiful white flower that is popular for pollinators and is also edible and holds well as a cut flower. Awesome addition to omelets and stir fries. Once established can self-sow or spread by root divisions.

Lemon balm
Melissa officinalis
Perennial, up to 2’, spreading. Prefers moist, rich soil, full sun to part-shade. Spreads, though less vigorously than other mint plants. Plant in containers or a spot where there is plenty of room to spread. Leaves can be used fresh, frozen, or dried. Excellent for summer teas with mint. Divide clumps every 2-3 years.

Lovage
Levisticum officinale
Perennial, up to 3’. What’s there not to lovage? Prefers well-drained soil and full sun to part-shade. Early to emerge in spring with strong parsley-like stems. Prominent celery flavor. Can be used like celery leaves, or use dry seeds for cooking in soups, sauces, and biscuits. Beautiful yellow umbel-shaped flowers in late spring. Cut back after flowering for vigorous fall re-growth. Like some other plants in the umbeliferacae family (parsley, celery, parsnips) be careful when harvesting as skin contact with plant oils followed by exposure to direct sunlight can cause a rash or blistering.

Mexican mint marigold
Tagetes lucida
Annual, up to 3’. This little marigold is used as a substitute for French tarragon. It has narrow, finely toothed leaves and small bright yellow flowers. It smells sweetly of anise and makes a wonderful tea or addition to a summer salad. Called “Cloud Plant” in Mexico. Enjoys full sun and well-drained soil.

Mint, Chocolate
Mentha piperita ‘Chocolate mint’
Perennial, up to 1’, spreading. Enjoys moist soil and full sun to part-shade. This variety of peppermint has a sweet aroma reminiscent of chocolate. Spreads by rhizomes; plant in containers or an area where you can control its growth. Dark green leaves with spikes of lavender flowers in the summer. Cut back after flowering to promote new growth. Excellent in fresh teas or chopped in salads, tabbouli, or as a garnish on raspberry sorbet.

Mint, Mountain
Pycanthemum virginianum
Perennial, up to 2’, spreading. Prefers moist soil and partial shade. Spreads by rhizomes, but not as rapidly as other mints. Narrow leaves with spikes of small white flowers. Wonderful clean minty fragrance. Native to Ohio, Missouri and Appalachian regions. Attractive to beneficial insects. Great for tea. Divide every 2-3 years.

Mint, Spearmint
Mentha spicata
Perennial, up to 1’, spreading. Enjoys moist soil and full sun to part-shade. Spreads by rhizomes; plant in containers or an area where you can control its growth. Dark green leaves with spikes of pinkish-white flowers in the summer. Cut back after flowering to promote new growth. Excellent in fresh teas or mojitos; a perfect candidate for making lemon mint sherbet or mint jelly.

Parsley, Giant of Italy
Petroselinum crispum
Annual, up to 1’. Prefers well-drained soil and full sun to part-shade. Flat-leaf variety. Vigorous, upright plants with broad green leaves and thick, tender stems that are very sweet in fall. Biannual, but will produce leaves all season. Wonderful for homemade falafel, tabbouli, and vegetable soups. Another garden host of the swallowtail caterpillar.

Papalo
Porophyllum ruderale
Annual, up to 4’. Enjoys well-drained soil and full sun.  Large, blue-green leaves are very aromatic and taste like a bolder, more complex version of cilantro. Unlike cilantro, loves the heat. Also called papaloquelite and quilquina in South America. Its arrival and culinary use in Mexico is believed to pre-date cilantro by thousands of years. Use individual leaves, or cut back central stem to promote branching. Awesome in fresh tomato salsa.  

Sage, Broadleaf
Salvia officinalis
Perennial, up to 2’. Prefers well-drained soil and full sun. Attractive broad blue-green leaves with a tinge of purple in the winter months. Very cold tolerant. Beautiful purple flowers in spring are long-lasting in fresh bouquets. Wonderful added to omelets, soup, roasted chicken, and pasta sauce. Cut back the woody stems of established plants in spring for new, bushy growth.