Nothing smells as wonderful as a handful of fresh herbs right out of your garden! And so many herbs can be grown here in Texas. Some are perennials, thriving for years, others are good for a year, and some like cilantro , last only a moment, and not in season with tomatoes! So here is a list of recommended herbs for Texas.
Sweet Basil most common, easy to grow. Large glossy green leaves. Anise flavored. Great for pestos. The most popular and a favorite of all good cooks. A must for good basil vinegars. Used primarily in seasoning spaghetti sauces, stews, soups and many other dishes. Also Lemon.
Purple Ruffles easy to grow, not used much in cooking, however, great for adding a couple of leaves to the sweet basil in making vinegars, to give it a champagne pink color.
Cinnamon excellent in cookies, cakes, and another one to add to arrangements, green or dried for adding aroma. A favorite.
Spicy Globe or Greek small globe shaped ornamental type. Culinary.
A marvelous plant that can be grown in a large container. It can freeze, particularly during the extreme low wind chill days. Plant in a large pot, easy to bring inside during the winter. Fresh bay leaves are excellent when used in butters and spreads.
May grow to 3 feet tall. Its leaves are gray-green and it produces bright blue star-shape flowers. Seed it in the garden because it is difficult to transplant. It grows best in full sun but does fairly well in partial shade. This herb is grown for its leaves which should be harvested before the plant flowers.
Makes a soothing and sleep-inducing tea. Can be sewn in sachets or pillows to create a “sleep pillow.” Cats love it. They will wallow in the bed where it grows. If a problem, plant some in a hanging basket.
Onion used in many dishes-such as spreads, butters, baked potatoes, soups, stews and more. The flowers are lavender, used in salads. Chives can be blended in water and used as an insect repellent or grown among plants that may harbor unpleasant insects. Chives, garlic, onions and leeks make excellent repellents.
Garlic has a delicate garlic flavor-when dried will not hold its flavor as well as the onion chive, but is great as a fresh addition to foods. Its flower is white and also can be eaten, added to salads. Flowers of both chives can be floated on punch bowls. When trimming chives, cut them about 1/2 inch from the ground. They will then produce new growth. They need to be propagated by root division in about 3 years. A must in every garden.
Also known as Chinese parsley, used in salsa, can be blended into a pesto. It likes full sun, but does not like the summer heat, which causes it to bolt quickly and go to seed. Coriander is a spice made from the ripened seeds of the cilantro plant.
Dillweed (the leaves) is a favorite for many dishes. The seeds are used in pickling and vinegars. A cool weather plant. Harvest the outside leaves. Best seeded directly into the soil to prevent early bolting.
Famous for eliminating the embarrassing consequences of eating beans. Add to food 15 minutes before serving. It thrives in dry soil and will reseed. Use in salsas, corn and squash dishes and poultry sauces.
Bronze beautiful in the garden due to the outstanding color. Great in soups, fish or chopped in salads. Grows to 4.
Florence often grown for its seed or bulbs. Grows to 3' tall in full sun with lots of water. The yellow flowers can be dried for arrangements.
Silver Skin small bulbs are excellent in cooking, also considered an excellent source for health reasons. An annual which must be planted in September-October and will mature in the months of June-July in our area. Excellent for all types of dishes.
(needs winter protection). Lemon Rose, Peppermint, Snowflake, Peach, Apple, Cinnamon, Ginger, Lemon-Lime, Lime, Chocolate and many others. Are used as an addition to cookies, cakes, teas and other desserts, in addition to being used in oils, vinegars and potpourris.
English grows to 2 ft., is bushy, full and seems easier to grow than the French. Cannot tolerate extreme heat, so protect roots with a pea gravel mulch. Used in perfumes, sachets, all types of cosmetics, and can be used for making breads, syrups and honeys. Rub on insect bites to ease pain and promote healing. Water infrequently (about every 7-10 days) without wetting the leaves which will prevent the growth of a plant-killing fungus.
A hardy perennial in our area, can be invasive. It can be considered a friendship plant, as it has so many qualities and uses, anyone would be happy to have a starter plant. It can be propagated from the separation of root system as well. It makes a wonderful tea, is used in many dishes such as breads and cookies
(must be winter protected). A relative of the Pampas Grass, grows to 4 ft. The strongest lemon flavor is in the lower end of the stem (small bulb) section. Makes a great tea, also a substitute for lemon in foods such as sauces. Harvest the stem right down to the ground level and chop like a scallion. Grows from full sun to part shade. Produces the lemon oil that is used in many household products as well. The tops will burn during a freeze, the entire plant needs to be mulched and protected from freezes.
The strongest of the lemon herbs, with beautiful lavender flowers. Does best when cut back to control sprawly growth. Is excellent used in teas, dried for later uses in teas, cakes and cookies. Protect from bitter cold winters.
(can winter over in greenhouse). Sweet or mild oregano, every cook needs one in their herb bed or window box. Used in many meat and vegetable dishes. Grows from 6-9 inches. Needs full sun and moderate water.
Apple, Chocolate, Corsican, English, Lemon-Lime, Lime, Orange, Peppermint, Pineapple, Spearmint, and Wintergreen, to name a few. There are many types of mints and many uses. It is invasive, but can be contained by planting in large pots or encircling the desired area with a metal trim placed in the ground, below the root system depth. Likes moist soil and will grow well in sun or shade. Keep the plant well trimmed.
Italian related to Marjoram but stronger, used in many dishes such as Italian and Latin foods. A must. A perennial that needs some protection in winter.
Mexican used in the same manner as all other oreganos, especially in Latin foods. A nice plant to put in a large pot, protect from extreme heat and cold. Hummingbirds love the flowers.
Italian large flat leaf. Great for chopping for making pestos and dishes of all sorts. Used in many foods, salads, spreads, butters, meats and vegetables.
Curly Leaf a beautiful plant in the herb garden, very hardy, wonderful in dishes. All Parsleys are biennials, some get very large. Use the very bottom leaves first for cooking. Parsley is a great source of iron, magnesium, and iodine. You can grow both kinds in full sun to part shade.
An excellent flea and mosquito repellent, this is a strong smelling mint, and easily grown as a ground cover. Makes an excellent hanging basket or pot herb, but needs the root ball trimmed back and new soil added several times a year. Planted around pet quarters will repel fleas.
There are many Rosemarys. Prostrate is a low growing, sprawling plant reaching 2-3 ft. in height. Rosemary grows well in the ground in our area. If a freeze threatens, cover the plants with blankets.
The upright types can get quite large-up to 6-8 ft. Some of the uprights are more cold hardy, such as the Arp. All need some winter protection and do well if planted in an enclosure and protected. Used in many vegetable dishes, teas and baked goods, also excellent on baked chicken.
Garden Sage one of the Mediterranean herbs that does not like to be in soggy soil. Best to let dry out before watering. Key ingredient in soups, stews and poultry stuffings. If you ever use the fresh, you won’t want to go back to the ground store bought type.
Pineapple a favorite for appearance and flavor. Grows to 4 ft., has lush green leaves and red flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Use the leaves in teas and in baked goods. The flowers are pretty in punch bowls.
Tricolor variegated leaves of white, purple and green. Use as garden sage.
Grows in a rosette clump with rounded serrated leaves having a mild cucumber taste. Likes fairly dry limestone soil and full sun. Attractive as a border plant. Use in sandwiches, herb vinegars and salads or sprinkle over fish.
A hardy perennial growing to 18" tall in full sun with shade in the afternoon. A great salad herb, has a lemony flavor when using the young leaves raw. The older leaves can be cooked as greens or used to wrap baked fish. Makes a wonderful, tart soup.
Mexican Mint Marigold grown as a substitute for true tarragon. Will survive our winters if heavily mulched or covered during extreme cold times. Has an anise scent and can be used in many dishes and vinegars. Has small marigold flowers in the fall.
TRUE TARRAGON does not do well in our humid climate.
comes in several different types. Common thyme is grown in most gardens. It is a perennial which produces a shrub-like plant about one foot tall. It produces purple flowers and gray-green leaves. Use the leaves in stews, with most beef, lamb, pork and chicken dishes. Great with fish, leafy vegetables and beans.
Information courtesy of The Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity, published by the Travis County Master Gardener Association and reprinted with permission.
Herbs for Texas