The idea of having your own herb garden is appealing to a lot of people. Not only is gardening good for mental health, mood, and wellbeing – but it counts as gentle exercise too. Plus, having a continuous supply of delicious and aromatic fresh herbs means you’ll always be able to add vibrant flavours to your cooking.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got any gardening experience,because many of the tastiest herbs are surprisingly easy to grow. Most can be grown inside or outside, so it’s up to you if you want to plant them in the ground or in pots around your kitchen.
Some herbs are perennial, which means they keep growing throughout the year. These are usually the easiest to grow. However, annual herbs (which grow, flower, set seed, and die in one year) and biennials (which have a life cycle of two years) are also easy to grow – giving you plenty of choice!
With that said, from fragrant basil to zingy coriander, here are 10 easy herbs to grow.
Thanks to its distinctive flavour and aromatic scent, basil is one of the most popular herbs to grow – and thankfully, it’s one of the easiest too.
Basil is an annual herb, so you’ll need to replant it every spring – but it does just as well in pots as it does in the ground.
Being a Mediterranean plant, basil thrives in the sun, and by the time summer rolls around you’ll have plenty of leaves to use in your cooking – whether for fresh salads or classic pasta dishes. As temperatures drop in autumn, growth will slow and by winter, it’ll stop altogether.
If you’re growing basil indoors, it’s essential to put your plant in a sunny, warm spot to mimic summer conditions. Make sure you don’t overwater it, and regularly pinch off the top leaves to encourage bushy growth and deter flowers; the longer you can prevent flowers from growing, the tastier your leaves will be!
You can always begin growing basil indoors, and then plant it outside after the last frost. Similarly, if you want to keep it growing into autumn and winter, put it back into a pot and bring it inside before the weather turns too chilly. If you’re a fan of Italian food, basil is an absolute must!
For more information on growing basil, have a read of this guide by the RHS.
Mint is one of the most versatile herbs around.
Its fresh flavour goes just as well in chilled salads as it does in hot tea – and it’s delicious with fruit, vegetables,meat, and in cocktails too! There are also many different varieties of mint, though peppermint and spearmint are the most commonly grown.
If you often end up killing your plants, the good news is that mint is an incredibly sturdy perennial that tends to withstand, even with neglect. However, it can be invasive and has a tendency to spread, so you may want to plant it in a pot to avoid any take over of your herb garden.
While you can grow mint from seed, many people find that buying young plants and repotting them offers the best results. Mint likes to grow in full sun or partial shade, moist but not soggy soil, and, because it can survive a bit of drought, it’s important not to overwater.
Mint is a perennial plant that dies over winter and grows back every spring, and it can live for many years. The leaves are ready for picking from spring through to autumn, and if you want a bushy plant, pinching back the stems and flower buds can encourage more growth.
For more guidance on how to grow mint, have a read of this guide by the RHS.
Another herb that’s unusually forgiving is thyme. This heady, ground-hugging evergreen herb can survive drought, being stepped on (which releases its lovely scent), and even mowing! It also attracts bees, so it’s good for the rest of your garden too. Plus, it’s delicious in French and Italian cuisine.
Because it’s so attractive to wildlife, many people prefer to grow thyme outside. Its versatility and hardiness means it can make slightly shabby gardens look prettier too. For example, you could use it to edge a garden border, fill the gap between paving, grow out of the crevasses of walls, trail out of containers, or creep along a pathway.
The only thing thyme insists upon is sunshine, so make sure you don’t place it in a shady spot. If you’re growing your thyme in a pot, make sure it’s a clay pot, as this allows the soil to properly dry out between waterings – thyme hates having soggy roots!
Because thyme is evergreen, you can use the leaves all year round, although the sprigs in spring and summer are the most flavoursome. Trim back woody stems and snip off the tips to encourage new growth – though remember to keep the pink, white, and mauve flowers that appear in summer, as the bees love these the most!
To find out more about growing thyme, check out this guide by the RHS.
Oregano is one of the most popular herbs in Greek and Italian cooking, and no wonder why.
It grows best in hot, dry climates, though it’s tough enough to survive a British winter if kept in a warm, sunny spot. It’s also a good companion plant, nurturing other plants it grows with. For example, oregano has been found to help lavender grow.
Oregano can be grown in the ground or in pots – though because it loves the sun and warmth so much, the latter might be best. This way, you can bring your oregano pot inside or move it around to make sure it gets enough light and heat. Oregano can live for many years, so it’s worth putting in the effort. Dried oregano can last for up to three years too.
If you have a sunny garden and want to grow your oregano outside, it does well in garden beds and grows quickly – with leaves ready to be harvested shortly after planting. Just make sure the soil is never wet, as oregano is susceptible to root rot.
In summer, oregano grows pretty pink flowers that can add a charming rosy bloom to your garden or window box.
Oregano is commonly used in both Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine, though the differences between plant varieties can be stark. Greek oregano is the most intense, followed by Italian. These herbs are best used as flavourings for pizza, pasta, and salads. Mexican oregano, on the other hand, is more grassy and citrussy, and great for tacos, chillis, and enchiladas. However, all varieties are delicious.
For more information on growing oregano, have a read of this guide by the RHS.
Chives are another easy herb to grow. And, just like thyme and mint, they’re resilient too.
No matter how many times you trim them, chives will keep growing from spring to autumn and can last through cold winters. They’re known for taking over gardens though, so it’s generally best to keep them in pots – unless you want chives with all your food!
Chive’s delicate, garlicky flavour is absolutely delicious and can elevate many simple dishes. While related to both onions and garlic, chives have a more subtle taste, and go really well in omelettes and potato salads, as well as with creamy white cheeses.
The pinkish-purple flowers that appear on these perennial plants in spring and summer are also edible. Why not try using them to add colour to salads, or in some summer cocktails? Plus, because bees are attracted to these bright coloured blooms, growing chives is a nice way to attract some wildlife to your garden.
Chives like plenty of water, but not water-logged soil. If you don’t have a garden, or would like to keep your herbs inside, they also grow well in pots or window boxes. When you snip the chives to use in cooking, cut them at the base of the plant instead of the top, as this encourages more leaves to grow.
To find out more about growing chives, check out this guide by the RHS.
If you’re a fan of pickling your own vegetables, dill should definitely be on your ‘must-grow’ herb list.
This pretty, feathery plant is classed as a cool-season herb, so it can easily withstand unexpected cold snaps after being planted in spring. However, it does love the sunshine, and because it’s delicate, it often requires some protection in windy spots.
While dill is an annual plant, it’s fairly short-lived – with leaves lasting for several months until it starts to flower. However, it does well in gardens, and the small yellow flowers look pretty along flower borders and are good at attracting plenty of butterflies and bees. If you sow a few batches in spring, you should have enough fresh dill to last into autumn.
The feathery leaves have a subtle aniseed-like flavour, similar to fennel but gentler, and they’re commonly used for pickling – particularly the bouquet variation. However, the leaves also work really well in fish dishes, with chicken and eggs, and in soups and salads. The seeds have a stronger taste and can be used whole or crushed.
Dill’s flowers can be eaten too, and thanks to their vibrant colour, they look beautiful as a garnish too. If you don’t have a garden, you might want to consider growing Fernleaf and Dukat variations, as these are smaller and tend to grow well in pots and containers.
For more guidance on growing dill, have a read of this guide by the RHS.
Sage is another resilient plant that can happily grow inside or outside – as long as it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.
The soft, fuzzy leaves of sage are tough enough to repel pests and tolerate droughts and frosts. However, this plant is also prone to root rot, so make sure the soil can properly drain.
If you pick the right spot, you can enjoy fresh sage all year round – as well as the sight of bumble bees which are drawn to its pretty mauve flowers.
There are hundreds of different varieties of sage, though common or garden sage is most commonly used in cooking. Fresh sage is worlds apart from dried, though both variations are lovely – and dried sage has been used throughout history to cleanse the air too.
Dried sage is popular in chicken dishes and stuffing, so you’ll definitely get a lot of use out of your plant over the Christmas period. And, because the leaves have such a strong flavour, you’ll only ever need one plant. Fresh sage is delicious in risotto, gnocchi, and pasta – and some cocktails too!
While sage is technically a perennial plant, the stems can become woody after several years, so if you’re planting it outside, it’s best to replace it once this happens. To encourage healthy new growth, leaves should be regularly harvested and the stems trimmed.
To find out more about how to grow sage, check out this guide by the RHS.
If you often forget to water your plants, then rosemary is one of the best herbs you can grow as it doesn’t need much water. The only thing you need to watch out for is overwatering – the most common cause of death for rosemary!
This evergreen shrub can be planted outside, where, if it’s in a sunny spot, can grow upright and reach heights of four metrest. Alternatively, you can keep rosemary in small pots on a windowsill, depending on how much space you have. Either way, you’ll have aromatic needles to enjoy all year.
If you grow your rosemary outside, its small mauve, blue, pink, or white flowers will attract bees. And, if you want it to add even more beauty to your garden, you can choose a trailing form which will grow prettily down a wall. If you’ve potted your rosemary, you might want to bring it inside for winter.
Rosemary is believed to have brain benefits too – including improved memory and attention – so you may want to keep a small pot in your office as well as on your windowsill! And of course, rosemary tastes absolutely delicious. It’s the perfect herb for slow-roasted dishes, as well as for adding depth to pasta sauces.
For more on growing rosemary, have a read of this guide by the RHS.
Parsley is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed. It’s compact too, so it won’t take over your garden. And, it grows well in pots.
As a biennial plant, it grows tasty leaves in its first year, followed by flowers and seeds in its second. For this reason, most gardeners treat parsley as an annual herb and resow it every spring.
You can sow parsley outside or grow it indoors on a sunny windowsill. Do bear in mind though that parsley can have a low germination rate, so it’s best to plant more seeds than you think you’ll need. Once the leaves appear, there’s not much maintenance involved apart from making sure the soil doesn’t dry out.
Because parsley forms a short, bushy rosette, it makes a pretty edging to flower beds – especially the curly-leafed varieties. However, curly-leaf parsley is more commonly used for decoration, as it’s much milder than flat-leaf. So, if you want to grow parsley for your cooking, the latter is the one you want.
Flat-leaf parsley is packed with nutrients and is a really versatile herb. You can use it to add a tangy kick to salads or vegetable dishes, scatter chopped leaves over hot dishes like pastas, soups, and omelettes, or pair it with garlic and onions to make zingy sauces. It’s also supposed to freshen breath and cleanse the palate!
To find out more about growing parsley, have a read of this guide by the RHS.
If you’re a fan of Mexican or Asian cuisine, then you’ll want to start growing coriander.
This fast-growing but short-lived plant is easy to grow from seed – simply plant outside or in pots after spring and the leaves will be ready for harvesting after a month.
Coriander is related to parsley, and as well as looking similar, both herbs like similar growing conditions too. Coriander is also a compact plant, so it’s great for filling gaps in your flower borders or vegetable plot. Though, it’ll also grow happily indoors as well. If you’re growing coriander inside, move it to a cooler spot during hot summers, otherwise the leaves can turn bitter.
Coriander is an annual plant, and each sowing should give you several harvests before the flowers start to appear. To get the most out of your plant, pinching back the stems can encourage bushier growth, as can allowing the soil to dry out before watering. If you want to have fresh coriander all year, start planting in the spring and then again in autumn.
You can of course let your coriander plant flower and set seed – if you do, you’ll also get to enjoy the coriander seeds, which have a warm, aromatic flavour that’s completely different to the leaves. The leaves are delicious when used to top Mexican food like tacos as well as all manner of Asian dishes – from stir-fries to noodle soups.
For more information on how to grow coriander, have a read of this guide by the RHS.
Growing your own fresh herbs is enjoyable and relaxing – and using homegrown herbs in your cooking feels really rewarding!
Eating more fresh herbs isn’t only a good way to add flavour to your food, but it’s also a great way to consume more nutrients – as most herbs are packed with vitamins, and many have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities too.