10 best herbs to grow in your garden (2024)

Find out how to grow herbs at home and which herb plants are best for herb gardens.

Nothing beats cooking with home-grown herbs so we called upon the expert knowledge of RHS chief of horticulture, Guy Barter, and asked for his advice on what herbs are the best to grow in the garden and how we should take care of them to help...

5 things to remember when growing herbs

1. Herbs can be grown in any reasonably fertile, well-drained soil. Where drainage is questionable, create raised beds or plant your herb seeds in pots.

2. Good, all weather access is vital to growing herbs. If a hard path of light-coloured, reflective paving can be created, so much the better. At RHS Wisley, pebble/concrete panels are used in the herb garden, which reflect light back into the plants, and create warmth to ameliorate chilly nights.

3. Herbs generally need little fertiliser and crop well without much feeding. Over feeing can in fact decrease the concentration of flavours.

4. Most herbs need a neutral to alkaline soil.

5. High levels of sunlight is particularly important for obtaining good herb flavour, and so herbs should be planted in the best lit area of the garden.

The best herbs to grow in your garden

1. Basil - Ocimium basilicum

A key ingredient in many recipes, especially summer salads and Mediterranean classics, basil is Britain's most widely sold herb. Although originally from India, where it is considered sacred, it thrives in British soil, and thus is perfect for your kitchen garden.

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How to grow...

  • A tender annual, unable to withstand cold weather and frost, basil can only be grown outdoors in the summer, and so must be moved inside during the winter months.
  • The herb must be planted in fertile soil, and receive as much warmth and light as possible.
  • Greenhouses are ideal, as are kitchen windowsills, for helping basil to survive for long periods.
  • With so many varieties of basil available to grow, why not experiment with a few this summer and enjoy the different tastes on your home-made salads and pasta dishes.


2. Chives - Allium schoenoprasum

A hardy perennial and especially easy to grow, chives are a superb addition to your kitchen garden. They were once hung in bunches around the house to fend off evil spirits but, today, they are popular as boarder plants with their pretty, purple blossoms.

As the entire chive plant is edible, they are extremely versatile. Their flowers can be picked and used as garnishes, and their bulb and leaves can also be eaten. With their light onion flavour, chives can be used in all sorts of summer dishes, from the classic potato salad, to soups and omelets.

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How to grow...

  • Chives are low maintenance. Simply plant them in the ground or in any pot, and place them in a sunny spot where they can soak up four to five hours of sunlight a day.


3. Mint – Mentha spicata

Common mint, otherwise known as spearmint, is a fantastically hardy herb that is easy to grow in the garden.

Flowering light purple blossoms from August to September, the herb is a perennial, and so can be relied upon to grace your kitchen garden year upon year.

Its vigorous nature means it can sometimes be invasive, so to avoid it taking over, grow it in a bottomless bucket set in the soil. With its refreshing and pleasant spearmint flavour, the herb is often used to flavour salads and sauces, such as mint sauce. Its leaves can also be dried or used fresh to create herbal tea, and are often used in domestic herbal remedies.

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How to grow...

  • Its only requirements being moist ,fertile soil and plenty of sun, mint can be grown in almost any situation, and is not susceptible to frost damage.


4. Coriander – Corinadrum sativum

Also known as Chinese parsley, coriander is a short-lived, tender annual, which is grown from seeds sown at intervals during the growing season.

As the whole plant is edible, it is highly popular in culinary dishes and is often used in Asian cooking, including curries, Chinese and Thai meals.

The seeds and leaves have distinct flavours - the seeds have a more lemony taste and can be ground down and used as a spice. The leaves, a little more bitter, are often chopped up and used as a garnish. As well as its culinary uses, coriander has many health benefits and is used all around the world in herbal remedies.

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How to grow...

  • It appreciates fertile soil and a sunny position, however partial shade is preferable, as shade helps prevent premature setting of the seeds.


5. Dill – Anethum graveolens

A short lived but hardy annual, dill can be raised from seeds with relative ease in your kitchen garden. Its versatile nature, from its use in culinary dishes to its contribution to the production of soaps and oils, makes it appealing to grow.

Fresh and dried dill leaves, with their wonderfully aromatic smell, pair beautifully with seafood such as smoked salmon. The herb is also popular matched with potatoes and soups.

How to grow...

  • Plant in moist soil, where the herb can receive plenty of warmth. Partial shade is ideal, as this can slow the seed setting that brings cropping to a finish.


6. Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare

Although indigenous to the Mediterranean, fennel can be grown easily from seeds in the UK, and is a brilliant addition to your garden.

Although a hardy perennial, fennel is often sown every year to maintain its crop. Its highly aromatic nature and aniseed flavour makes it a wonderful ingredient for both sweet and savoury dishes.

Its young tender leaves can be used for garnishes, in a salad, in soups and with fish sauce, as well as in sweet, sticky sauces and delicious puddings. The edible nature of the whole plant makes it very versatile.

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How to grow...

  • A particularly robust herb, fennel will grow well in any garden soil, providing it is placed in a sunny spot.


7. French tarragon – Artemisia dracunculus

Although a little more tricky to grow, French tarragon is a must for any culinary enthusiasts, and those who particularly love French cuisine.

With its aromatic, sweet anise scent and liquorice flavour, French tarragon is considered the finest variety of tarragon in the kitchen. It is particularly delicious when paired with chicken, and can also be used to flavour vinegars and oils, as well as make a béarnaise sauce.

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How to grow...

  • Although a perennial, it can rot out in wet regions and overly saturated soils, so be careful to plant in drier soils and not over water.
  • Plant in fertile soil, where it can receive warmth and a good amount of sunlight, and the herb will provide an abundance of shoots.
  • As French tarragon rarely flowers, and thus has limited seed production, it cannot be grown from seed and must instead by raised by root division.
  • Divide the plants in spring to retain the health of the plant, and replant the herbs every two to three years.


8. Parsley - Petroselinum crispum

One of the most popular herbs in British cooking, parsley is an absolute must to grow in your garden. A hardy biennial, it is sown each year from seed in spring and summer.

It can be used in Middle Eastern salads, combined with basil to make pesto, and used in stews and fishcakes. Curly parsley, with its decorative curled leaves, is often used as a garnish to dishes.

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How to grow...

  • For the best results, grow in the fertile soil of the vegetable plot, along with ample water in dry weather.
  • Partial shade is tolerated, although full sunlight is preferable.
  • Of the two types of parsley grown in the UK, curly and flat leaf, flat leaf tends to be more popular, as it is more tolerant of rain and sunshine, and according to some, has a stronger flavour.


9. Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis

Believed by the Greeks to be excellent for the brain, and associated in traditional medicine with having a good memory, rosemary is a particularly nutritious herb to grow in your garden. As an evergreen shrub, its fragrant needle-like leaves are available fresh all year so it can continually grace your table and decorate your garden.

Blossoming white, pink, purple and blue flowers, rosemary is often used as a decorative plant in many gardens, and is a frequent herb in landscape gardens.

Pair rosemary with roast meats such as lamb and chicken, and use it to flavour stuffings and Yorkshire puddings.

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How to grow...

  • It does best in well-drained soil, in a sunny spot. It is drought tolerant and pest resistant.


10. Sage – Salvia officinalis

The intense flavour of sage, with its savoury and slightly peppery taste, makes it one of the most widely used and grown herbs in Britain.

Its variegated (green and white) and purple forms, make excellent sources of colour for a herb garden, and can double as an ornamental boarder. Essential to British cooking, it is often paired with pork and used in stuffing.

Unusually, sage's flavour increases as its leaves grow, meaning larger leaves can be used to create tasty dishes as well as small. A good source of vitamin C and rich minerals like potassium, sage has many health benefits.

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How to grow...

  • A low-growing evergreen shrub, it is available to pick all year round, and thrives best in well drained sunny areas.


10 best herbs to grow in your garden (2024)


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