Fresh herbs add a unique flavor to any meal or beverage, though they aren’t always accessible. Even if your favorites are at your local grocery store or market, they may be picked through, leaving unsavory plants for you to choose from.
To avoid disappointment, you may want to consider growing a few at home. Most herbs can be sown as soon as the risk of frost is past, or you can start them inside for an earlier harvest. To help you get started, check out our list of 10 herbs you should grow in the early spring.
If you’re interested in learning more about these plants and how to grow them we’ll be including links to more details for each one.
Several species of basil are available, ranging in flavor from sweet to bold to spicy, with scents to match. Most plants are compact, fitting well in gardens with limited space. They can be sown indoors in early spring or right into the ground.
Basil loves heat, so be sure to plant it in rich, well-draining soil in an area exposed to full sun. Add water when the top inch of the soil dries. When the plant is 6 inches tall, clip the stems you need instead of plucking individual leaves to encourage lush growth.
Parsley is a biennial plant, so its life cycle is two years, giving you plenty of tasty and nutritious herbs to add to your favorite dishes. The seeds germinate slowly, but soaking them in water speeds up the process. For a longer growing season, start them inside, then move them to your outdoor garden after the last frost.
Well-draining soil and partial or full sun are best for parsley. Keep the soil moist by watering often and adding mulch around the plant base. Once the stems have three or more leaves, pluck the outer leaves as needed.
Sage features spiky, colorful flowers, though the oval gray-green leaves are the edible part of the plant. They can be used fresh or dried for later use. You can sow them directly into the garden, though they can also be started indoors two weeks before the last frost.
Sage hates wet soil, so place them in a well-draining area with plenty of sun. The young plants still need regular watering, so don’t let them dry out completely. As a perennial, sage will grow year after year, though you’ll need to prune the heavier stems each spring.
Several varieties of thyme are available, so if you’re looking for a savory addition to your meats, veggies, and soups, be sure to plant a culinary option. Growing them from seeds is tricky, so pick up starter plants to add to your garden two to three weeks after the last frost.
Thyme loves heat and full sun. The plant is drought-tolerant, requiring well-draining soil and deep watering when the soil dries completely. Regular trimming before the plant flowers ensures continued growth. The leaves can be plucked as needed, dried, or frozen for later use.
Mint loves to spread out, so containing it in a pot is best to prevent this invasive herb from taking over your garden. As a perennial, you only need to plant it once for it to sprout every year. You’ll have a consistent supply of leaves and sprigs to add to beverages, desserts, and anything else you can think of.
Mint prefers moist soil that drains well to avoid soggy roots. Add some compost to give it the nutrients it needs to thrive. It also loves lots of sun, though it can handle partial shade if needed.
Oregano is a perennial with a strong flavor, earthy scent, and wide green leaves that grow in pairs along the stems. It grows fast, so you can start it in your garden after the last frost. Once the plant is four inches tall, you can begin harvesting sprigs and strip the leaves for cooking.
For oregano to thrive, plant it in well-draining sandy or loamy soil free of organic materials. An inch of water a week is plenty for this herb. Full sun is best, though oregano doesn’t like high humidity, so an area with decent air circulation is a must.
As part of the evergreen family, rosemary features long, slender leaves on woody stems. They have a spicy scent and piney flavor, which works well in meaty or savory dishes or as a lovely tea. Rosemary shrubs grow quite large, so they aren’t great for indoor planting, though you can start them inside and move them outdoors after the last frost. You can also prune them aggressively to help contain the plant for an indoor garden.
Rosemary is easy to grow when given the right conditions, including full sun, no shade, and well-draining, loamy soil. It likes the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering and minimal fertilizer.
Cilantro leaves are potent, so they aren’t everyone’s favorite herb, though the same plant also produces coriander. The crushed seeds are perfect for meats and stews, so even if you don’t use the leaves, it’s still a worthwhile plant to have in your garden.
As a cool-weather plant, cilantro seeds are best planted right after the last frost in early spring. The plants prefer well-draining soil, early morning sun, afternoon shade, and even moisture. They rarely need fertilizer, though you can add organic materials to the soil if it lacks nutrients. Keep them from getting too warm to help prevent bolting and extend your harvesting time.
As part of the mint family, lemon balm is known to be somewhat invasive, so container planting is best to keep it from spreading. The leaves and stems add a mix of lemon and mint flavors to soups, salads, veggies, sauces, lemonade, or teas.
You can start lemon balm indoors six to 8 weeks early or outside right after the last spring frost. The plants prefer well-draining soil and dry to medium moisture to thrive. It doesn’t like too much heat, so early morning sun and shade during hot afternoons are vital.
Dill is an annual with a fresh, citrus-like flavor and pungent scent, perfect for soups, stews, potatoes, and pickling. It’s best sown directly into your outdoor garden after the last frost since this herb doesn’t transplant well.
It grows fast, so you’ll have a healthy supply all summer. Dill needs plenty of nutrients, so add some organic matter or fertilizer to well-draining soil. Full sun, wind protection, and regular watering are also essential.
Best Spring Herbs
Herbs have plenty of uses, adding unique flavors and aromas to meals, beverages, essential oils, or potpourri. By planting various options in the early spring, you’ll have a healthy supply throughout the summer and fall. You can even harvest what you need to dry or freeze for winter use or propagate some at the end of the year to add to your indoor garden for fresh herbs year-round.