Anise is a slow-growing annual which flowers about 3 months after planting. It grows to a height of 2 feet and produces yellowish-white flowers in umbrella-like clusters. It will grow best in a deep, fertile soil in a sunny, warm location. It should be planted 6 to 10 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart. This herb is grown for its seeds which are ready for harvest about one month after bloom. The licorice-flavored seed is widely used in breads and cookies.
Basil is an annual which grows about 2 feet tall with leafy, light-green foliage. It produces tiny white flowers often tinged in lavender. This is an easy herb to grow. Plant it in the spring after the last frost or sow it indoors and transplant it in the garden. It grows best in full sun. Prune or pinch off the stem tips for a bushier, more compact plant. Do not over fertilize as this may reduce the desired flavor. This herb is grown for its leaves which are best harvested prior to blooming or during blooming. The leaves may be preserved by freezing.
Borage is an attractive annual which may grow to be 3 feet tall. Its leaves are gray-green and it produces bright blue star-shape flowers. Seed it in the garden because it is difficult to transplant. It grows best in full sun but does fairly well in partial shade. This herb is grown for its leaves which should be harvested before the plant flowers.
Carraway is a biennial producing seeds the second year. The first year it grows 12 to 15 inches tall and produces bright green, carrot-like leaves. It will die-back in the winter but comes back in the spring and grows to a height of about 2 feet. At bloom it produces clusters of greenish-white flowers. Harvest the seeds about one month after flowering. After flowering, the plant dies. In Texas, this herb should be seeded in early fall, allowed to freeze and go dormant and then produce seed the following summer. It is difficult to grow in south Texas and along the coast.
Chervil is an annual that does well in flowering borders and makes attractive potted plants. It grows to a height of 2 feet and produces green fern-like leaves resembling parsley. It produces tiny white flowers in umbrella-like clusters. This herb prefers partial shade and a slightly moist soil at all times. Plant it in early spring and thin the plants to 3 to 4 inches apart. The leaves for which this herb is grown should be picked before the buds break and flower.
Coriander is a fast-growing annual which reaches a height of about 2 feet. It is easy to grow and should be seeded in place. The plants should be thinned to 7 to 10 inches apart. It prefers sun but will do fairly well in partial shade. This herb is grown for both its seed and leaves. The leaves can be harvested when the plants are 4 to 6 inches tall. Gather the seeds as they ripen. Coriander is widely used in many Mexican dishes and is commonly known in most areas as Cilantro . It is used extensively in the manufacture of sausage.
Fennel, Common fennel or sweet fennel, is a tall-growing perennial that lacks hardiness to survive winters in northern areas. It is most often grown as an annual and can reach a height of 3 to 5 feet. It should be seeded in place in full sun on rows 3 feet apart with plants 10 to 12 inches apart. All the parts of this plant may be used. Harvest the stems before the flowers bloom and the leaves when flowers start to bloom. Seeds turn brown when ripe and can be dried for later use.
Marjoram produces an attractive bushy plant which grows 1 to 2 feet tall and can be used in borders or as a container plant. It produces small leaves which are light green on top and a gray color beneath. In all areas, except extreme southern locations, it should be grown as an annual although it is actually a perennial. Start seed indoors and set transplant out after the last killing frost. This herb is grown for its leaves which should be harvested just before the plant blooms for full flavor.
Mints of many different kinds are grown including spearmint, peppermint and orange mint. All these mints are hardy perennials and are among the easiest and most popular garden mints. They may be started from seed but cuttings are recommended. Mints prefer sun but will withstand shade. They are true perennials but mint beds should be renewed every 3 to 4 years. Mints are harvested for their stems and leaves and the more frequent the harvest the better the plant grows. Remove stalks before they go to seed.
Oregano is a hardy perennial and does well in containers. It produces a leafy, shrub-like plant from 2 to 2 feet tall. It produces broad leaves with pale pink flowers in loose clusters or short spikes. Plant oregano in full sun and well-drained soil. Space plants at least 10 to 12 inches apart. Cutting back the flowers will stimulate foliage growth. Although this plant is a perennial it should be dug and replanted when the plants become woody usually in 3 to 4 years. Oregano is grown for its leaves which can be used at any stage of growth.
Rosemary is a hardy evergreen-shrub but will die if temperature drops below 5 degrees to 10 degrees F. It normally grows 4 to 6 feet tall and produces gray-green foliage and pale blue flowers. It grows best in dry, sunny areas.
Sage is a shrub-like perennial which grows 1 to 2 feet tall. This herb will do best if started indoors and transplanted to the garden or flower bed. Place in a well-drained, sunny area. Space plants at least 2 to 2 1/2 feet apart because of their bush-like growth character. The plants eventually become woody and should be removed and replaced with new plants every 3 to 4 years. This herb, grown for its leaves, should be harvested before bloom. Sage is difficult to grow in extreme southern areas and along coastal areas.
Savory includes summer savory and winter savory. Summer savory is an annual which may grow to 1 feet in height. It has erect branching stems and gray-green leaves. The winter savory is a shrub-like perennial which grows to be about 1 foot tall. Both plants should be placed in sunny, dry areas. Both herbs are grown for their leaves which should be gathered before blooming begins.
Sesame , an annual, grows 3 feet high and produces attractive green leaves and pale orchid flowers from mid-summer to early fall. It should be planted in sunny areas and spaced 8 to 10 inches apart. Sesame is grown for its seeds which ripen about a month after flowers bloom.
Tarragon is an attractive plant which grows to a height of about 2 feet. It produces fine, dark green leaves with small, whitish green flowers in tight clusters. It is a perennial grown from cuttings or divisions and does well in partial shade. In northern areas, the roots should be covered with mulch. New planting should be made every three to four years. The leaves for which this herb is grown are most flavorful when picked before the plant blooms or just as blooming occurs.
Thyme comes in several different types. Common thyme is grown in most gardens. It is a perennial which produces a shrub-like plant about one foot tall. It produces purple flowers and gray- green leaves. Thyme grows in dry soil which receives abundant sunlight. Space plants 12 inches apart. Constant harvesting prevents the plants from becoming woody although they should be renewed every 3 to 4 years. Harvest by clipping the tops when the plants are in full bloom.