Posts Tagged Biennials

Things to Know about Growing an Herb Garden

When you choose to start your own herb garden, the next step is picking the kind of herb plants you want. There are a lot of different herb plants and many of these herb plants have many types—for example, there are hundreds of varieties of thyme to choose from.

The life cycles or growing periods vary with different herb plants. Understanding your herb’s life cycle can help you make the best decisions. Before you buy your herbs, you’ll want to be aware of their growing season, or life cycle. There are three main types:

  • Annuals: These flowers begin from a seed. They grow, flower and die all in the same growing season. There are a number of good annual herbs: cilantro, chervil, basil, borage and dill.
  • Biennials: This variety of plant will grow for 2 years and will generally bear “fruit” after the first year. Others (like parsley) produce foliage in both years, but go to seed early in the second growing season. Angelica, chicory and Queen Anne’s lace are just a couple of the many biennials to choose from.
  • Perennials: These herb plants generally come back for more than two growing seasons. Whether or not they come back or for how many years they can come back depends on the climate where they grow. Of the many perennials available, some you may like are lemon verbena, rosemary, scented geranium, mints, thyme, yarrow and lady’s mantle.

In my opinion the best herbs are perennials because I only have to purchase and plant them once, but I also have fun raising annuals and biennials. Too much cold can kill your perennials, so beware. Bringing your perennials in during winter is a nice way to extend their growing cycle.

There are many other things you can do to lengthen the life of your herb plants:

  • The garage, basement or cellar is a nice location to store a few perennials that need to be trimmed back and have the bulb, roots or rhizome dug up for the winter.
  • If you are going to bring your herbs inside during winter, try pots instead of growing them in the ground.  If you want to plant these herbs in the ground, a nice trick is to plant them pot and all. This makes it easy to keep them during winter months—just unearth the container at the end of the season.
  • Grow your biennials in middle of the summer so that you can get plenty of flowers in the second summer.
  • Some herbs are self-sowers, which means that they will sow their own seeds for the next growing season. Mustard, borage and catnip are just a few of the herbs that are self-sowers.
  • A fabulous way to boost a short-lived annual’s growing cycle is to remove any flowers that have faded. Depending on your area’s temperatures; your annuals may self-seed if you clip the herb back near the end of the summer.
  • If you get some unexpected cold weather don’t forget to cover your plants with a blanket, towel or sheet which can prevent the frost from killing your plant. If you have your herbs in pots, you can always move them under a covered patio.

I hope that these tips can help you with your herb garden planning. It will be hard sometimes to get it just right. Even I make mistakes after all these years, but just remember that you can take out what does not work and try try again!

Here is more information on Herb Garden Information. Here is a website with a free mini-course dedicated to Herb Gardens.

Good luck with your herb gardening. Be sure to let me know how your herb garden grows.

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