Recently I asked my friend Julia Davidson, a blogger and crafter who also has a mighty green thumb, for a list of her favorite herbs to grow. These herbs are the ones she grows every year to great results. She also has wonderful suggestions for how to use each herb as well. Perhaps you'll find an herb that you want to add to your garden.
5 Herbs You Should Be Growing but Probably Aren't
By Julia Davidson
Each year, I’ve found myself paying more and more attention to my herbs. Initially, I didn’t even realize that many herbs are perennials, making them even more appealing to many gardeners!
Recently, I’ve learned more about the many medicinal plants that you can easily grow in your backyard, especially herbs. I love the idea of incorporating herbs into your landscaping. It’s so wonderful when plants can be beautiful and have practical purposes as well!
Here are a few of my favorite herbs that you can easily grow at home too!
1. Lemon Balm (full sun)
Lemon balm is a low-maintenance perennial that is a beautiful leafy plant. It has small white flowers that are not very noticeable. Lemon balm has many medicinal uses but is especially known to soothe the digestive tract and for pain and stress relief. A great way to use lemon balm would be to make an infused oil and use it in a lip balm for healing cracked lips in the winter, or mix it with some passionflower for a stress-relieving foot soak.
2. Calendula (full sun to part shade)
Calendula (sometimes known as pot marigold) is a beautiful orange flowering plant that has strong healing properties for skin. The flowers can be eaten fresh (maybe on a salad), or they can be dried and infused in an oil for use in body care products.
Calendula is an annual and does really well in containers or straight in the ground.
3. Chamomile (prefers full sun)
Chamomile is a perennial (I’ve been warned that it might just spread and take over my whole yard!) that produces beautiful little white flowers with a yellow center. You probably know chamomile as a bedtime tea, but you can also use it in a calming bath soak or nighttime eye pillow.
4. Lavender (full sun)
Hands down, lavender is my all-time favorite plant. My neighbors have a huge lavender plant in their front yard, and every time I walk past it, I can’t resist the urge to stick my whole face in it and absorb the aroma. The earthy floral scent transports me into a dreamy state of mind for just a minute.
Lavender is a perennial that (as most do) gets bigger and bigger each year. Most of my lavender plants didn’t flower very much the first year but are producing more and more each year, so be patient! Dried lavender buds are beautiful and maintain their scent for a long time. You can use them in a dried flower arrangement in your home, a beautifully scented sachet in your clothing drawer, or even a relaxing eye pillow.
5. Feverfew (full sun to part shade)
Feverfew is an herb that I had never heard of until about a year ago when I was researching herbal remedies for headaches. I have suffered from headaches since I was a little kid, and though I only get them occasionally now, I was looking for something other than over the counter medication to treat them and discovered feverfew.
There are many ways to use feverfew, including in a tincture mixed with lavender that should be taken daily for a few months as a preventative. You can also chew on fresh feverfew leaves for headache relief. Even if you don’t suffer from headaches, feverfew is a wonderful flowering perennial that would look beautiful in your garden!
If you’re interested in learning more about growing herbs and medicinal uses for herbs, here are a few books and websites that I love.
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal by Tammi Hartung
This book has great information about growing herbs, arranging your herb garden, plant identification, and many recipes as well.
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar
This is an incredible book filled with all kinds of herbal recipes including teas, tinctures, body care recipes, and more.
Mountain Rose Herbs is a wonderful resource for purchasing supplies for making pretty much any herbal concoction you think of! Even if you don’t need to purchase anything, you'll find that their website and monthly email newsletter are full of recipes and informational articles about herbs and their uses.
Happy herb gardening!
Julia Davidson lives and gardens in Minnesota. She blogs at minecreations.
Images via Julia Davidson