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. To find out how to grow herbs in any space, head over to our herb hub page.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ornamental perennial plants are excellent performers in the garden too, find a link to our top ten at our perennial hub page.
My husband and I bought our homestead 17 years ago. My life is devoted to turning it into a permaculture heaven, a food forest for humans and animals alike. I’m a mum of two lovely girl, rescue animal collector, and blogger at https://www.outdoorhappens.com. You’ll find me sharing my life and experience in homesteading, gardening, and self-sufficiency there. I have a BA in Management, Dip. Editing, Adv. Cert. in Naturopathy, specialising in Herbal Medicine, and am currently studying a Permaculture Design certificate as well as Master Gardener.
Good to see different herbs,and read about them too….I live in Malta, and have been growing herbs for a couple of years,this year I have decided to grow as many different ones as possible. >>Mint/Lemon mint/rosemary/ thyme/sage/corriander/purple basil/basil green/lemon basil/basil anise/ red Orach,still to start. Can you tell me of others herbs that I could grow. Thankyou
Hello Eunice. As you live in Malta you have the perfect climate for herb-growing! As long as you can provide them with a sunny spot, then just type ‘herbs’ into the T&M search box and take your pick. Some other popular and useful culinary herbs are dill, parsley, marjoram and chives. But you may also wish to experiment with something a bit different such as lovage or summer savoury. I would just go for it!
I have an old wheelbarrow so I thought I would use it for some herbs. Will it be ok
Sounds great!! Make sure that you drill drainage holes throughout the barrow to allow excess water to escape.
This looks beautiful Sue, thanks for publishing! Packing a variety of herbs into your garden gives you a food supply, medicine chest, and delicious flavors and scents all in one. Once you’ve planted these ten herbs, you won’t want to stop there!
Thanks for writing it Elle – great blog! Looking forward to hearing more from you 🙂