Caring for Herbs

Caring for Herbs

In general most herbs are relatively easy to grow and do not require much care. However that being said the degree of care is dependant upon several factors such as the environment, the herb itself, or type of garden (formal, informal, container, bed, indoor, or mixed use)

Soil Preparation and Planting

HerbsCheck the preferred soil conditions of your chosen herbs before planting. Many herbs thrive in well-drained, low nutrient soil. If your soil is heavy or clay, incorporate a low-fertility soil improver to improve drainage. Another alternative is to construct raised beds. A simple short-term solution is to add a couple of handfuls of sand or gravel to the bottom of the planting hole.

Other herbs, which require a more fertile soil, may benefit from the addition of medium soil improver. Remove any weeds, especially perennial weeds such as quack grass.

Maintenance

Remove flowering stems from shrubby herbs such as lavender, oregano and sage after flowering. Prune these herbs in the spring to control the size of the plant and to prevent them from becoming bare and woody at the base.

Always remove flowers if you want to harvest the maximum quality and quantity of leaves. Pinch off growing tips to encourage bushy growth, and cut out any plain shoots on variegating herbs. Established clumps of perennials are best divided every 2 – 3 yrs in the spring or autumn.

Propagation

Many herbs are easy to raise in the garden. Annuals such as basil and parsley are grown from seed. Some perennials such as chives and fennel are also raised from seed and may self sow. Some cultivated varieties do not always grow from seed or produce seed. In this case vegetative propagation is the only option- by cuttings, layering, or division, depending the species.

Invasive Herbs

Vigorous herbs will quickly take over a garden if left to its own devices. These species are excellent for growing in wild areas, where equally vigorous neighbors will control them. In other situations these types of herbs need to be restricted. Bury a large pot or bucket with the bottom removed or cut with extra drainage holes, and plant herbs inside the container. Cut back any vigorous growth and rotted creeping stems, and divide them every 2-3 years. Some invasive herbs are prolific, self-seeders. Remove flowerheads before seeds form, or hoe off the seedlings in spring.

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