Gardens conjure up images of sunny sunflowers, colorful coneflowers, striking snapdragon, and delightful dahlias. They add visual and textural contrast to our welcoming backyards. You include yet another dimension, called gustation, when planting herbs in a garden. Gustation refers to our taste bud receptors that bind with food molecules and send messages of flavors to our brains.
I enjoy growing herbs in my garden. It’s so easy to go outside and clip the fresh spice and generously add it to my favorite recipe. But beware, you may be in for a big disappointment if you randomly place herbs together with your flowers or herbs.
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Let’s Begin At The Beginning!
There are basics to consider when planting an herb garden outdoors. As is the case with flowers, you have to pick the correct spot. You want the herbs to be in close proximity to your kitchen. It’s much easier to step out your back door to have quick access to your herbs rather than traipsing all the way to the back of your property just for a few cuttings.
Herbs also need access to a water supply, and when selecting a location you need to consider where the sun is during the course of the day. Refer to my post, I Think I Can, for other information on the basics of planting your garden.
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Not All Herbs Are Friendly
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There are many kinds of herbs. As a gardener, you need to decide which herbs you would like to have in your garden. After you have decided on which herbs you’d like to grow you should research which plants complement each other. For instance, rosemary, oregano and sage are great companions because they share the same environmental requirements, including their needs for sunlight exposure and water. So a good rule of thumb would be that if they share the same growing requirements, they will probably be very friendly with each other…..good buddies!
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Oregano and thyme can be used as ground cover in the front of your flower garden. It’s easy to decide which herbs will complement your flower bed if you pair the growing environments with those of flowers.
Some Problem Herbs:
Be careful which herb you choose when growing herbs in a garden. Here are a couple of herbs that dictate specific environments for growing.
Although mint is pretty and smells wonderful, it is very invasive and will take over other plants within a season. It’s best to plant mint in a container where you can keep it under control.
Herbs will not thrive well together if the plants you select do not share the same environment for growing. Some herbs and flowers that do not complement each other may even affect the taste of the herbs and will stunt their growth. One other herb that needs to be planted in a separate container is fennel. Fennel will kill it’s neighbors if grown in a garden and planted next to an incompatible plant.
So beware which flowers and herbs you plant side by side.
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There are many herbs that help keep pesky insects at bay. I will explore a few of them.
- Mint – As I said before, it is best to plant mint in a container. It is also easier to place mint in strategic areas of your garden if it is contained in a pot. Mint naturally repels mosquitos. This is a big plus if you enjoy entertaining or resting in your garden in the evening. You can also snip some mint to make fresh mojitos or grind the leaves and add it to a fresh glass of iced tea.
- Rosemary – Rosemary is also good for driving mosquitos away and it repels flies. Awaken your olfactory sense by just rubbing your fingers down a sprig of rosemary. The aroma is wonderful! I love marinating a pork loin with rosemary. It adds such a unique flavor.
- Lavender – This herb has a wonderful fragrance. It can be used as a tea or in a pretty cache in your dresser drawers. Even though humans like the aroma of lavender, certain insects do not. Fleas, mosquitos, flies, and moths are repelled by this fragrance. Lavender likes a sunny place and has a beautiful flower which will look nice scattered in pots around your patio or in a garden adjacent to a deck.
- Chives – Add some chives to food if you enjoy making potato recipes, soups, and omelettes. It will add a very nice garlicky, onion flavor. They have a pretty purple, lilac-colored flower but are disliked by aphids, flies, and certain types of beetles. The flowers of chive are also edible.
Flowering Herbs – Let’s Add Some Pizzazz!
I’ve mentioned some herbs that have beautiful flowers, but there are many more that will add color and interest to your garden. Previously I noted the importance of compatibility with the surrounding plants and of the appropriate exposure to sunlight and water requirements. In addition to this you want to ensure it has lasting color throughout the season.
You can fill in spots by adding these herbs.
- Bee Balm – The herb bee balm is one of my favorites for adding unusual color to the garden, but beware, they become invasive. They have beautiful red flowers on top of long elegant stems and come in pink and purple shades in addition to the red. They attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees which will help pollinate your garden. Their leaves are used for tea or flavoring breads.
- Dill – The tall chartreuse yellow flowers that perch on tall stems make this herb desirable when adding color to your garden. They have feathery leaves that blow like heather in a field. My mom used to make dill pickles every summer from cucumbers and the flavor can’t be beat!
- Rosemary – The fragrant aroma of rosemary blooms in the early summer and has beautiful spiky purple flowers. It is also drought tolerant and can be used in soups and casseroles.
- Spearmint (mentha spicata variety) – Mint has beautiful lilac-pink bells and flowers in mid-summer. But remember, like other mints it is invasive so plant it in a container.
- Pineapple Sage – This herb has a strong pineapple fragrance and it produces scarlet blooms at the end of summer. The smaller tender leaves can be used in salads, chicken dishes, and breads.
One Last Thought!
Herbs do have beautiful flowers. However, flowers usually indicate the end of their life cycle. Snip their buds to prevent them from shortening their lives. This also encourages them to thrive throughout the season. When the end of the growing season approaches, enjoy their amazing colorful blossoms and thank them for providing extra flavor to your meals.
I like to talk to my plants! Lol!
The Versatile Herb
Planting herbs in a garden has lots of benefits. Herbs can repel annoying insects, enhance your favorite recipes, and add delightful color to a garden. So the next time you plant your flower garden, why not consider adding some herbs?
Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
22 thoughts on “Planting Herbs in a Garden – Time For Good Eats!”
Wow, Nina! Very professional and informative. Love your site. How exciting! Best of luck!
I’m glad you liked it. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
You cover it all regarding growing herbs. From where to consider planting to how many kinds of herbs exist and even to snip their buds to extend their lives. Your detailed description of various herbs gave me some good ideas of which herbs to start with. Who knew some herbs repel mosquitos? Thank you for all your ideas regarding growing herbs in my garden.
I’m so glad I could give you some insight on herbs and that I could expand your knowledge on them! If I can answer more questions, please feel free to ask me. I will be happy to help you.
Hi and thanks for sharing this. One of the biggest issues we have in our back yard is mosquitos and other little flies that seem to bite. I like the idea of planting herbs to try and repel these irritating insects but I could well imagine that some of these herbs might actually attract other larger critters. We have another problem now, we have our own critter – a puppy who seems to want to eat everything she can get in her mouth. However, we do have a protected vegetable garden around the side of the house. Are there any herbs that are likely to attract critters including deer, groundhogs, skunk, raccoon, possum, and yes our dog, that we should therefore plant inside the protected garden? Thanks, Andy
I found conflicting information regarding your dilemma. Aromatic herbs like basil, lavender and rosemary deter most animals including deer and rabbits. They do not like the smell. However, I’ve read where lavender and rosemary attract animals not because of their own characteristics but because they attract bees and butterflies which pollinate flowers, hence making the food around them more enticing.
Goldenrod, aster and sunflowers are much liked by deer and rabbits. So you may want to plant them in a protected area.
As far as your puppy is concerned, dogs do not like strong odors like garlic and onion. The prickly features of aloe, agave and prickly pear also deter dogs. Citrus plants such as lemons, oranges and grapefruit are a major deterrent to dogs because of their odor. However, this may be hard for you to grow; it’s dependent upon the zone in which you live. Chili pepppers will also have an adverse effect on dogs.
I would still try planting the herbs to repel the deer and rabbits, though. One product I came across was called Liquid Fence. It is a spray that has an unpleasant odor which animals do not like. Unfortunately, we humans don’t like the smell either but the smell fades away in a couple of days for us but lingers for animals. Another side effect is that it will wash off during a heavy rain. You will have to apply it frequently in a rainy season.
If you can repel the animals in the beginning of the spring when natural foods are scarce by planting herbs, flowers, and using the Liquid Fence, more than likely your neighborhood critters will find a different source of food and will not feast on your lovely plants. I know from personal experience that animals do not like marigolds either.
If you have any other questions or comments, please post, and if you have other gardener friends, please share my website with them! I think you’ve helped me decide what my next post will be!
This is great information on planting herbs. It is that time of year, but I suppose you can grow them indoors year round? I like the idea of growing rosemary and repelling flies, but doesn’t it also attract bees? I am terrified of bees and don’t want any herb that would attract them!
Yes, Leahrae, rosemary does attract bees so you may want to stick with some of the other herbs I suggested. You may want to try growing the rosemary in water inside your house. It has more of a woody stem so it will be a little more difficult to grow than a soft stemmed herb. Try cutting a soft stem from the plant (new growth) and put it in a jar of water. Make sure the leaves on the bottom two thirds of the stem are removed, the cutting is at an angle to absorb more water and that the remaining leaves are not submerged in the water. Place it in a window that gets about 6 hours of sunlight and see what happens. Replace the water every second or third day so no algae grows.
You may want to put it in an opaque jar to prevent direct sunlight from hitting the water. Also, make sure the rim of the jar is wide. Mason jars work well.
This may not work the first time, but keep trying. Once it propogates and grows roots you should be able to keep it in the water and just cut stems as you need it.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any more questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask. You may enjoy some of my other posts about gardening. Let me know what you think.
Thanks for the comments.
Awesome piece of information on Planting Herbs in a Garden. I love how you explain the basics of planting herbs in your backyard garden and access their growth effortlessly. I have to agree with you that not all herbs are friendly as there are many kinds of herbs out there. Proper research should be done to know which herbs complement which plants. The Idea of herbs repelling the troublesome mosquitoes was illuminating. Thanks for the insights!
Great article. I will definitely share with my friends!
All the best,
I’m glad you enjoyed the post Sergej! Yes, plants can be finicky so do some research before deciding which plants mesh well with each other. And yes, some herbs will repel mosquitos.
Thanks for reading my post and if you have any more comments or questions, please do not hesitate to ask! You may also like reading some of my other posts on gardening. As you can tell I like gardening, and I hope to share my knowledge with other gardening enthusiasts.
I like to talk to my plants too!! Thank you for reassuring me that I am not crazy! haha. Anyways, I learned so much from your very informative post! Because of Covid lockdowns, I have become a plant MOM, but have yet to start my own herb garden. I will be saving your site for more ideas and tips because I had no idea some herbs cannot be planted together. I love that I read about this here because i can avoid a big headache in the future when I do start planting my own herbs. Can some of these herbs survive in just water? I keep my store-bought spring onions in a glass jar filled with water near my west-facing window and it lasts me soooo long. I am wondering if i can do that with other herbs like parsley and basil etc?
Hi Sasha. I’m glad you liked my post and no, you’re not crazy for talking to your plants! Soft stemmed herbs do well when put in a container of water. These include basil, sage, mint, oregano, thyme and lemon balm. Just cut a stem on an angle to allow more surface to absorb the water from an existing plant either from your garden or a friend’s plant. Then remove the bottom two thirds of the leaves and place it in either a clear or opaque wide-rimmed jar full of water (not distilled water). Make sure the leaves are not submerged in the water and that there is free flowing air around the leaves. It’s best to place them in a window that gets about 6 hours of sunlight.
Clear glass will promote algae growth so you should change the water every second or third day, or you could cover the side of the container that faces the sun with construction paper to prevent sunlight from directly hitting the water. That is why an opaque jar works better.
Eventually the plant will start to propogate and you can either leave it in the water or transplant it into the earth. If you decide to plant it into the earth, you should slowly get it acclimated to that environment by adding glass stones into the water over a period of time. This should simulate soil that gently squeezes the roots together.
Be sure to cut the lower leaves first and cut off any blooms that are forming. This technique should supply you with a never ending supply of herbs. You shouldn’t have to buy any more for quite a long time!
Happy gardening and if you have any more comments or questions, don’t hesitate to ask! You may enjoy some of my other posts about gardening too!
PS: Parsley can also be grown this way.
This is informative. I am always in favor of growing herbs myself. But the ignorance of gardening keeps me away from doing it. I like the comparison part. Which herbs to plant together, which herbs are useful in protecting your garden from insects is really important. Mint is something that I want to try out myself following your guidelines. Thanks for sharing!
You’re quite welcome, Arif. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, be real careful with mint. If you just grow it in a garden, it will take over the area even if you think you have pulled it all out. I learned the hard way!!
I hope you follow my posts because I try to educate gardeners to help them advance from a novice to a confident gardener. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to ask me.
I love growing herbs around my back door that I can just run out and pick them when I need them. But yes, I made the mistake once of planting mint, and it very quickly took over everything. I now grow mint in a pot to contain it.
I did not realise that when the herbs start flowering and forming seeds, that I should cut them to prolong their lives. My basil always seem to go to seed very quickly, so I will try to cut the flowers next time to see if it will last for longer.
Hi Linda and thanks for the comment. Yes, it’s always difficult to cut the flower of herbs especially when they look so pretty, but it does encourage more growth.
If you have any questions regarding gardening or would just like to comment on my site, I would welcome it!
Hello, Nina, thank you so much for this interesting article. I love herbs have planted them anywhere. In front of my terras, we have Lavender and Rosmarin. Near the BBQ place, we let the Mint grow. We have a big garden where there is room to grow. Thank you so much for the snipping tip, I didn’t know that I had to cut the buts to prevent them from shortening their lives. I am gonna try this out. Thank you so much. I can’t wait until I can work in the garden again.
Happy gardening, Monique.
Thanks Monique for the comments. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and that some of my suggestions were new to you. Your terrace sounds lovely. I can’t wait to start and get my hands dirty too. Enjoy your gardening and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Thanks for sharing your views on planting herbs in a garden. The ready to use herbs add special aroma to the food and make it quite unique. I am delighted to know the positive aspect which I was not knowing, that the Herbs can repel insects also. So on from now on I can consider Herbs as all in one package. Thanks for the great information.
Thanks and regards,
I’m glad you enjoyed my post and had learned something! You’re quite welcome for the information and I hope you browse some other posts for more inspiration.
Thanks for all the great info and tips, Nina! We are in the process of putting in a fence and planning how to landscape our yard, your thorough and thoughtful blog is going to definitely come in handy!
I’m so glad you find my blog helpful. As a beginner it’s hard to figure out where to begin. Here are a couple of posts I think you’ll like. They will help you figure out where to begin when starting a garden. If you have any more questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask.
If you’re unable to click from this comment, the first one is under gardening ideas in the menu and the second one is under basic info.
I hope you enjoy those as well!!