Top 10 Hardy Perennial Herbs to Plant Once and Harvest for Years

Herbs are incredibly useful for culinary and medicinal purposes. Perennial herbs get to spread their roots for many years, so they’re great at looking after themselves. They’ll provide you with harvest after harvest, thriving on little to no TLC. There’s no need to re-plant them every year, saving you many hours of hard work in the garden.

There is an herb to suit everyone, from mint tea to roasted fennel. Here is my top ten of easy to grow perennial herbs you plant once and harvest for years to come.

1 . Mint

Mint is incredibly versatile and one of the easiest perennial herbs to grow. The more you harvest, the more they grow. Mint is a vigorous, creeping herb. It can spread quickly throughout your garden. Keep mint in pots to keep it contained in small gardens. Its spreading habit makes it a great ground cover and weed suppressor in large gardens and permaculture gardens.

Pinapple mint

©Elle Meager – Pineapple Mint is a vigorous, creeping herb.

2. Chives

No onions in the pantry? No problem! Perennial chives will do most jobs onions do, with a milder flavour.

Chives grow best in loose, moist soil in full sun. They’ll grow well in the garden and in pots. They love growing with tomatoes and roses, you can harvest just a leaf or two, and a spray of chive tea helps prevent and treat fungal diseases on plants. 

3. Rosemary

Rosemary and Sage, which is number 9 in our top 10, are a match made in heaven. They encourage growth in each other, so grab one of each! Rosemary loves a sunny position in the garden and can grow as tall as 2m high, depending on the variety.

Everything about this herb smells wonderful, hang some bunches in your wardrobes and add to meat, bread, and anything else you’d add garlic to.

4. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm makes a delicious, refreshing tea. It’s also known as “Cure-All” because of its soothing properties. Culpeper recommend Lemon Balm for its ability to aid digestion and “expel melancholy spirits”. Research backs up Culpeper’s statement. A sniff of Lemon Balm always makes me happy.

Lemon Balm

©Elle Meager – Lemon Balm makes a delicious, refreshing tea.

Lemon Balm is not a fussy herb. Grow it in loose soil with regular watering, in a sunny or shady position. Grow more from cuttings or seeds.

5. Comfrey

Despite all the negative news you may have heard about Comfrey, no garden should do without it. Even if you don’t eat it, it’s incredibly valuable as a soil improver.

Comfrey has a deep root system. Not only does it loosen the soil for your other plants, it also draws up deep nutrients so that other plants can use it. It’s a valuable green mulch and the more you cut, the more it grows. Comfrey is one of the best companions for Asparagus.

©Elle Meager – Comfrey is incredibly valuable as a soil improver.

6. Fennel

Fennel grows 1-2 meters tall with fern-like foliage. It’s best as a loner, in a corner by itself or a spot where nothing else will thrive as it can stunt the growth of other plants.

Fennel loves full sun and grows in acidic as well as alkaline soils. It’s one of the few herbs that doesn’t mind growing under big trees. Fennel seeds make a great tea. Cutting the seed heads as soon as they’re mature encourages more growth.

7. Oregano

What’s a good tomato sauce without oregano? Easy to grow, highly productive, and perennial to boot. Loves well-draining soil and a sunny position. Oregano grows equally well in pots as it does in the garden.

Oregano

©Shutterstock – What’s a good tomato sauce without oregano?

8. Thyme

Thyme is a small bush with lovely, dainty flowers. A little goes a long way when it comes to Thyme. It’s a great digestion aid, so add a few leaves to each meal. Thyme is a great companion plant, especially for the Brassica (cabbage) family. Cabbage moth is the bane of the cabbage grower and Thyme can help you repel these bugs.

9. Sage

It’s no surprise Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song about Sage. Not many dishes are as wonderful as Sage butter sauce! Grow your own Sage in the garden or pots, in full sun to part shade. It’s susceptible to rot and fungal disease in wet conditions so excellent drainage is a must.

©Shutterstock – Grow your own Sage in the garden or pots, in full sun to part shade.

10. Tarragon

Its Latin name, Artemisia dracunculus, refers to Tarragon’s tangled root system. “Dracunculus” means “little dragon”. Because of its tangled, dense roots, it’s beneficial to divide the roots every few years.

Tarragon loves sun, dislikes wet soil. Besides dividing the root system, there’s not much Tarragon needs from you to thrive. It has lovely yellow flowers too, bees and insects love them.

 

 

Scent-sational Spring Flowers!

As I stepped into my garden earlier this week, I was captured by a breath-taking fragrance.  I went in search of its source – and there on the other side of the fence was a magnificent Sarcococca! I love this reliable evergreen shrub.  It has an intense (but not overpowering) perfume. Better still, it’s spidery, creamy white flowers are always busy with bees and other insects in early spring.

Sarcococca confusa flowers      ©Thompson & Morgan Sarcococca confusa

Last month was the mildest February since records began, and it seems to have brought out a flurry of early blooms in the garden. A walk around our plant nursery is a treat for the senses!

Old favourites like Mahonia aquifolium and Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ are in full swing. It’s easy to understand why they are so popular. These reliable shrubs are undemanding and their rich perfume will make you want to linger outdoors, even on a chilly day.

Mahonia aquifolium flowers

© Thompson & Morgan Mahonia aquifolium

Now maybe it’s just me, but I have never noticed so many Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ as I have this year – they seem to have taken a real surge in popularity! Not that I’m complaining – they make a handsome shrub, all year round, with their glossy, evergreen foliage.  At this time of the year, they are in their prime. Clusters of sugar pink, star-shaped flowers make an elegant display. Their powerful fragrance fills the garden with a rich, perfume.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' flowers

© Thompson & Morgan Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

One fragrant shrub that deserves to be more widely planted is Edgworthia chrysantha. While wandering the nursery the silky flowers stood out against its bare stems, releasing a gentle scent on the spring breeze. It’s a good choice for a sheltered position in the dappled shade of trees. An absolute treasure in spring!

Edgeworthia chrysantha flowers

© Thompson & Morgan Edgeworthia chrysantha

Spring perfume doesn’t need to be reserved for the garden. There are plenty of bulbs that will deliver a powerful punch indoors each spring. Fragrant Narcissus are some of my favourites. The scent is subtle with a delicate floral note, and the flowers are relentlessly cheerful!

Double Narcissus flowers

© Thompson & Morgan Double Narcissus

Hyacinth bulbs make a showy display indoors too, but I do find that they suffer from the Marmite effect. Love them, or hate them – you will definitely notice the powerful perfume if you welcome them into your home. Personally I will be leaving my Hyacinths just outside the back door for now!

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