There’s nothing better than having a well-designed herb garden. We all love the notion of stepping outside to gather herbs for our meal and walking through a lush and fragrant garden full of delicious and hardy herbs, all ripe for the picking. An herb garden brightens the home and creates a pleasurable sensation every time we look outside.
It’s best to plant perennial herbs that continue to produce every year to keep our herb gardens healthy and productive. Perennials are the perfect choice for our herb gardens because they require little maintenance after established and add flavor and scent to your home for years to come.
In this guide, we take a look at the best perennial herbs for your garden. We provide you with the top perennial herbs for zones 5 and 6. We also show you the tastiest and easiest-to-care-for perennial herbs that grow in full sun as well as those that do well in shady spots.
We provide you with significant planting and care tips to ensure that your plants thrive and are with you for the long haul. Before long, your garden will be bursting with tantalizing scents and colors, and your family will be delighted with the fresh herbs in their dinners. You won’t know how you lived without a gorgeous and low-maintenance perennial herb garden!
Getting to Know Perennial Garden Herbs
The first question you might have is a simple one: what are perennials and what are the different types of perennials? Perennials are plants that continue to produce edible growth throughout their lifespan. During the initial planting phase in your herb garden’s first year, be sure that the perennial plants have taken to their new homes and are healthy.
After the first year, all you need to do is sit back and watch the green leaves and purple flowers arrive like clockwork every growing season. When your garden is full of perennials, you conserve both money and precious time.
Perennials are also environment-safe in most circumstances. They’ll even aid you in pest control, as lots of perennials produce acrid scents that humans don’t mind but which is what keeps gnats away, as well as other bugs. Perennials only need attention when they are new plants.
You don’t have to do any annual tilling or heavy maintenance as you do with annual herbs. After the perennials take root in the garden, native growth and topsoil will stay healthy and intact, which is key to a healthy landscape. Perennials will even rehabilitate damaged areas and bring them back to top form.
Herb Garden Planning
Because you want perennial herbs to do well and live long and productive lives, plant them as early in the growing season as you can. Perennial herbs have different ideal planting conditions, so make sure to check all perennials for their specific requirements.
Because perennials get along with the environment so well, they’re often fine with the water they get from rainfall. However, don’t forget to check your plants from time to time to make sure that they don’t dry out. If you’re worried about dry soil, get a moisture gauge to prevent your herbs from getting too thirsty, and plant drought-resistant perennial herbs.
Perennial herbs are among the most robust and most easygoing plants in your garden, and they readily they adapt to your local conditions. While that’s good news for your family meals, it means that you’ll need to keep an eye out to make sure that your herbs don’t take over the whole garden. Perennials can go from desired growth to weeds in no time flat, so be sure to keep them in check.
It’s also important to know what plants should not be planted together, as combative plants deter growth in each other.
Amazing Perennial Herbs
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) – Great Herb for the Garden
If you’re looking for a lovely little plant with medicinal value, you can’t go wrong with Roman chamomile. This hardy perennial produces yellow flower heads with delicate white petals. It makes an excellent ground cover and is also an ideal choice for an indoor herb garden.
The chamomile is a robust plant and thrives in zones 3 through 9. It prefers part shade but will do well in full sun, too. Use chamomile for all kinds of home remedies.
Chamomile essential oil is used to control fever, inflammation, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, and gastrointestinal distress. You can brew a tea from chamomile flowers for insomnia; a cup of chamomile will have you sleeping soundly all night. On top of everything else, gnats hate chamomile scent, so the plant is an excellent natural gnat repellent.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Perhaps the best known and most used perennial herb is the basil plant, which is prized by chefs and gardeners alike. Basil plants are handsome and have broad, green leaves and a pleasant scent and flavor.
You’ll find basil’s fresh leaves in all sorts of dishes, especially Italian meals and salads. This herb will brighten your garden while its fresh scent repels insects. No herb garden is complete without a basil patch.
Once established, basil and other easy to care for perennials require little care. However, basil is sensitive to adverse conditions when you plant them. They are particularly affected by cold and will not survive any frost at all, so be sure to wait until the last frost is past before planting basil.
French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus) – Perfect Perennial Herb
Perhaps you want a perennial herb that can take rough weather and come out smiling. If you want an herb that will tolerate adverse conditions and thrive under harsh circumstances, consider planting French sorrel.
With French Sorrel, you get a plant that produces edible leaves with a light lemon flavor that does marvelously in salads. Best of all, the French sorrel is simple to establish and easy to maintain.
French Sorrel’s American relative, garden sorrel, does well in loose, moist soil, but French sorrel prefers harsher conditions. Be sure to double-check before planting to make sure you have the correct sorrel type. Plant the French sorrel anywhere with poor soil; its roots like to push through hard soil and extend deep into the ground. You’ll have new growth from the French sorrel year round, so pick it as needed.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Has there ever been a better multi-tasking plant than lavender? Lavender plants are one of the best perennial herbs to repel mosquitoes. They have a gorgeous scent and come in beautiful colors, and they provide both curb appeal and herb appeal.
For those who want a garden filled with fragrance and beauty, you’ll not find a better perennial than lavender. Lavender is one of the herbs that grow in full sun and areas with well-drained soil. Prune lavender plants a few inches every year to generate new growth.
Because lavender roots become woody, cut them back once a year after the second year of growth. A member of the mint family, lavender has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can help treat insect bites and small burns.
Winter Savory (Satureja montana) – Herbs that Grow in Full Sun
Do you want a hardy perennial with a strong, pleasant flavor you can add to any dish instead of salt and pepper? If so, the winter savory might be right up your alley.
These tough bushes survive in USDA zone 6 and are a fantastic addition to any herb garden. You can use winter savory to add zest to blander foods such as beans to produce flavorful masterpieces.
Winter savory repels bean weevils, so you can plant them as a companion plant with beans to keep both plants healthy. You’ll want to plant the winter savory in full sun for best results and try to prune them to stimulate new growth.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Spearmint plants are fantastic in so many ways. They produce beautiful lavender and blue flowers and release a fresh, green scent that keeps away pesky insects while soothing your senses. You can use spearmint in tea or as a cosmetic, and the plant is well known for its medicinal properties.
Spearmint can tolerate colder conditions and will survive in zone 5. It grows best in part shade and prefers well-drained and slightly acidic or neutral soil conditions. You can grow spearmint from seeds, but it’s much easier to grow from existing plants.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
If you’ve ever had Asian or Mexican meals, chance are you’re already familiar with cilantro, also called coriander. You’ll find that cilantro’s brash, slightly soapy flavor works wonders on bland fare and adds the perfect finishing touch to tacos and salads. The plant produces small, green leaves that resemble parsley and taste like nothing else on earth.
You’ll need to plant cilantro from seeds. You can either start your cilantro in an indoors pot or plant the seeds directly in the garden. Either way, keep the plants happy and growing until they crowd each other, as cilantro prefers crowded conditions for maximum growth.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) – Fragrant Perennial Herb
Perhaps you want to plant a tough perennial that can take the heat and still produce delicate and unique flavors. When you need an herb plant that can tolerate hot conditions, you can’t miss with the sage plant. Sage has long been used as a garnish and for medicinal purposes, and it’s an invaluable part of ancient religious practices, as well.
Sage needs a hot, dry Mediterranean climate to thrive. Plant your sage in full sun and well-drained soil, and make sure that the plant’s roots dry before watering again. If you’re planting from seeds, be patient, and give the seeds time to germinate.
French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
When you’ve got a plant in your garden known as the “chef’s best friend,” you know you’ve got a substantial herb garden. The French tarragon is the perfect addition to any garden. This perennial culinary herb also is called German tarragon and dragon sagewort. It produces an anise-like flavor that complements all kinds of dishes and will kick your cuisine to the next level.
French tarragon likes dry soil with proper aeration. Before planting, add an inch or two of organic compost or fertilizer to give young plants a boost — plant tarragon in full sun for best results.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – Ideal Perennial Herb
The lemon balm is also known as the balm mint or common balm and is a small plant with green leaves. Lemon balm plants produce a scent midway between lemon and mint, and they keep mosquitoes away like nobody’s business. They also attract beneficial insects, including butterflies, to your garden.
To make a DIY mosquito repellent from lemon balm, pick a few leaves, and crush them between your hands. Rub the leaves on your skin, and you’ll drive away stinging bugs without irritating your skin or overwhelming you with chemical fumes.
Bee Balm (Monarda)
Are you in the market for a pretty little perennial plant that attracts friendly fliers? Give the bee balm a look, and you’ll be hooked.
This perennial herb produces beautiful blossoms of white, purple, pink, and red, which act as a siren song to bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Bee balm has both herbal and medicinal properties and can be used to brew a soothing tea or as a skin treatment for rashes and stings.
Plant your bee balm in moist, nutrient-rich soil. The bee balm needs lots of water, so make sure to keep the soil hydrated at all times for best growth. You’ll need to plant your bee balm in sunny locations. Pick the flowers regularly to stimulate new growth.
Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)
Garlic chives, also known as Chinese leeks, are the perfect garden addition for those who enjoy Asian cooking. Garlic chives are in lots of Asian dishes, of course, but they also liven up any soup or salad that can use a garlic and onion flavor. Best of all, this perennial plant produces gorgeous summer flowers that attract pollinators to your garden.
Plant garlic chives during cooler weather. While they prefer full sun, you can plant them in part shade without issue in most cases. Make sure to give each plant at least a foot space on all sides, and don’t give them too much water. Thin your garlic chives plants during their second year and on whenever they get too crowded.
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) – Great Herb Choice When Planning Your Garden
If you want a warm-weather perennial herb that produces an unforgettable flavor, you might enjoy the lemon verbena plant. This low-slung plant produces narrow, green leaves and hugs the ground, making it ideal ground cover. You can use lemon verbena in jams and desserts, where its delicate lemon flavor highlights and enhances all of your meal’s flavors.
Plant the lemon verbena in full sun and moist soil. The lemon verbena is temperature sensitive and prefers mild weather to either extreme. Be sure to wait until the season’s last frost has passed before you plant verbena.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
If you want an evergreen shrub with fragrant needles and a flavor profile that makes your dishes pop, look no further than rosemary. Rosemary is one of the most-used culinary herbs, and once you get it into your garden and pick the leaves to add to your dinner meal, you’ll understand why. The rosemary buds into spectacular blue flowers from early spring to late summer and the plant will fill your garden with a green, fresh scent.
Rosemary is a drought resistant perennial. The plants are next door to weeds and are simple to grow in moderate and hot environments. Plant them in sandy soil with good drainage, and make sure that they are in a sunny spot. Rosemary needs at least six hours of full sun a day.
Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
For an herb you can use in almost any dish, reach for oregano. That’s why the Greek oregano plant is the perfect plant to start your herb garden. Because we use oregano in so many dishes, it’s a great idea to start your garden by planting oregano and building from there. This fast-growing plant explodes into beautiful pink flowers and has a delicate and enticing aroma.
You can start your Greek oregano plants from cuttings, nursery plants, or seeds. We recommend starting with cuttings, as you’ll get a fully matured plant much more quickly.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – Full Sun Herbs
Along with oregano, thyme is one of the most popular herbs around today. Thyme is not only flavorful and fragrant, but it looks beautiful as well and can be used as a corner decoration or planted in a pot to highlight the garden. You can use thyme in pretty much any recipe, including soups, stews, and chicken dishes.
Thyme plants prefer to live in a state of benign neglect, so give the plants something to fight against to ensure that they thrive. Plant them in dry, poor soil, and place them in full sunlight. Thyme plants are tough enough to do well in conditions that kill other plants, so use them in hard-to-fill garden spots.
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
Looking for an herb that can tolerate the heat? You’ll love the bay laurel, a tree that you can grow in your herb garden.
The bay laurel reaches up to 60 feet in height, but it also does well in containers in your garden, so feel free to use your bay laurel as edge decoration. The bay laurel leaves, or bay leaves, are dynamite additions to savory soups and stews and add a bit of complexity to your meals.
If you grow bay laurel in a container, prune it regularly to avoid crowding its pot. Give your bay laurel lots of drainage, and never let the soil get too moist. If you live in a cool climate, bring your bay laurel inside during the winter months to protect it.
We hope that you enjoyed this guide to perennials herbs. We all want a beautiful and productive herb garden, and perennial herbs are the best way to go to keep your garden healthy and happy. Our guide will help you find the perfect perennials herbs to grace your garden with amazing sights, scents, and flavors for years to come.
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