Growing an herb garden is appealing for many reasons. Not only do certain herbs grow well in small containers and spaces, but they’re also relatively fool-proof. Even if you don’t have any experience with plants (or keeping them alive), you can try your greenish thumb with herbs.
Before you head to the home store for containers and seedlings, we’ll explain a few of the benefits of growing your own herbs and tips on how to use them. Then, we’ll give you six easy herbs to grow and instructions on how to keep them healthy and use them daily.
What are the Benefits of Growing an Herb Garden?
If you’ve ever purchased a bunch of cilantro or chives at the market only to watch the unused portion you didn’t immediately need slowly die in the crisper box, we understand. Because of their intense flavor, most recipes only call for a few snips or sprigs of herbs, leaving you scrambling to find a way to store the rest safely.
Having an herb garden means you can snip a few stems of Peppermint for your tea or dry your own Oregano to add to your favorite soups and stews. You can top your dishes with your favorite culinary herbs knowing they’re fresh.
Medicinal herbs, like Echinacea and Holy Basil, also have health benefits that have been trusted for thousands of years in Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Not only can your body reap the benefits of these herbs, but with your own garden, you also have full control over how your herbs are cared for and tended.
Herbs and Climate Change
We’re all doing our best to be better citizens of the planet. One way to help reduce your own carbon footprint and help fight climate change? Grow your own food!
Organically rich soil acts like a carbon sink, drawing C02 down into the atmosphere and helping reduce climate change. Even a small container garden is helpful.
Many herbs are flowering, so growing them for aesthetics alone is a great reason to start a fresh herb garden. And thankfully, you really don’t need any experience with plants to be successful. Here, we’ll outline a few tips and tricks to know before you get started.
Before You Begin
Growing an indoor herb garden or a small outdoor herb garden is easier than you think. Follow these easy steps to prepare your space to grow herbs indoors or outdoors, and then select the best herbs for your lifestyle and climate.
- Find the space: You don’t need much room to grow herbs. A patio, balcony, or even a sunny window sill is plenty of space to start growing a few easy herbs.
- Find containers: Look for an eclectic mix of pots and jars. Some herbs can grow from a clipping in a mason jar, so the specifics aren’t incredibly important. You can pick the containers that match your decor or bring you joy.
- Grab a few plant labels and a marker: Even if you’re only planting a few herbs, it’s sometimes hard to remember what you’ve planted and in which pot. Once you’ve planted, mark each container so you don’t accidentally add anise leaves to your pot of pesto!
Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to inspire new growth. Here are six herbs that are easy, hardy, and useful. These make great kitchen garden starters or excellent add-ons if you already have an herb garden.
6 Herbs for Beginners To Grow
The easiest herbs require the least care and have a reputation for growing heartily, even if you make a few mistakes (like overwatering or forgetting to water them at all). Here are a few of our favorites.
It’s one of the most versatile and fragrant herbs you can grow. This plant has many uses, including chewing the raw leaves to freshen your breath. You can use Peppermint in tea to soothe digestive discomfort.9
How to grow Peppermint: If you place Peppermint in your garden, it might just take over the entire space! Instead of trying to manage overgrowth, keep it contained in a pot with potting soil.1 If you plan to grow Peppermint from seed, you can find growing tips here.7
Additionally, you don’t have to grow Peppermint from a seed; it will grow from a clipping taken from an existing plant. Simply place it in water in full sun to partial shade, and it will start to take root. Once it has sprouted, you can transfer it to a pot with potting soil.
2. Lemon Balm
How to grow Lemon Balm: Lemon balm prefers shade to direct sunlight. Its favored growing season is summer, but if you live in a warm climate, your Lemon Balm will grow all year long.2
You probably know this perennial herb best for the flavor it adds to your pasta sauce. Oregano, both fresh and dry, has been used to season meals and garnish dishes for millennia.
Fun fact: you can also use Oregano essential oil for cleaning kitchen countertops and other surfaces. Oregano also has immune-supportive properties, so taking it at the onset of a cold can help support your body.10
How to grow Oregano: Native to warm climates, Oregano can still survive a cold winter. It grows well in small spaces, making it a great herb for a container garden.
Because it is a perennial, you can enjoy the same plant for several years, although it’s important to note that it will begin to lose its potency after three to four years. Oregano favors full sun and increases flavor intensity the longer it is exposed to direct sunlight.3
4. Holy Basil
As an adaptogenic herb, Holy Basil can help restore balance to your body’s natural stress response.11 When you feel stressed, brewing a few Holy Basil leaves into a tea can help you relax and support a balanced state of well-being.
Holy Basil is an annual herb but can also be used as a short-term perennial. That means it will bloom for a second year, but the leaves will lose potency faster than standard perennials.
How to grow Holy Basil: A close relative of Italian Basil (the fresh basil you use in culinary dishes), Holy Basil prefers direct sun. If you want to grow it indoors, place it in a window with plenty of sunlight, or consider placing it under an artificial grow light if you don’t have a window facing direct sunlight. 4 Holy Basil will not tolerate frost, so keeping it indoors until spring is important.4
While the previous four herbs can be planted indoors and outdoors, the last two we’ll cover need more space. You’ll want to add these to your outdoor herb garden.
This beautiful flowering plant is large and has incredibly stunning purple flowers. Sometimes referred to as coneflowers, the petals bend downward, revealing their seed heads. These flowers attract butterflies and certain birds, but they’ve also been used in traditional medicine for immune support.12
How to grow Echinacea: The flowering portions of Echinacea are eye-catching, so placing them where you can see them is ideal. The most common color is purple, but some varieties include white, yellow, and red. You’ll need to plant Echinacea in well-drained soil in full or partial sun.5
These plants take two years to bloom from seeds. But if you purchase seedlings, you will be able to see blooms the first year you plant.5
Valerian has been used for millennia to help support sound sleep and ease the body and mind into a state of relaxation.13 You can brew Valerian in tea, but the flavor is extremely potent and very earthy.
How to grow Valerian: Like Echinacea, you’ll want to plant Valerian outdoors. It makes a beautiful garden addition with its clusters of white flowers. This is a tall plant that is perennial and tolerant of cold weather. It can even withstand frost.6 Grow Valerian in a sunny spot in well-drained, moist soil.6
It’s well within your wheelhouse to grow an herb garden of your own. If you have problems, there are numerous resources online to help, and the Gaia blog is a good place to start. We have information about many herbs, including their native climates and traditional uses.
We also grow our own certified-organic herbs on our farm. We are meticulous about the herbs we grow and the herbs we gather from other organic and sustainable sources. Join us in the journey of growing herbs and supporting your health the way nature intended.
- Bromberek, Melanie. "How to Grow Peppermint in a Pot." How Fab. August 5, 2017.
- "Growing Lemon Balm." Bonnie Plants. Accessed June 21, 2023.
- Henderson, Jayme. "Everything You Need to Know About Growing Oregano." The Kitchn. June 21, 2021.
- Blackstone, Victoria L. "How to Grow Holy Basil." SF Gate. October 30, 2019.
- "How to Grow Echinacea." American Meadows. Accessed June 21, 2023.
- "Valerian Growing Guide." Grow Veg. Accessed June 21, 2023.
- Lofgren, Kristine. "How to Grow and Care for Peppermint Plants." Gardener's Path. March 25, 2023.
- "Lemon Balm." Mount Sinai. Accessed June 21, 2023.
- “Peppermint.” Mount Sinai. Accessed June 21, 2023.
- Han F, Ma GQ, Yang M, Yan L, Xiong W, Shu JC, Zhao ZD, Xu HL. Chemical composition and antioxidant activities of essential oils from different parts of the oregano. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2017 Jan.;18(1):79-84.
- Jamshidi, N., & Cohen, M. M. (2017). The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM, 2017, 9217567.
- “Echinacea.” NCCIH. Accessed June 21, 2023.
- Bauer, Brent A. MD. "Valerian: A Safe and Effective Herbal Sleep Aid?" Mayo Clinic. Accessed June 21, 2023.