Herb Gardening
List of Common Herbs

Light Shade
Height 5 feet
Spacing 2-3 feet
Type Biennial
Uses Drinks, jellies, candy, fragrance
Other Sow seed yearly. Prefers cool & moist conditions.

Basil - details
Light Sun
Height 2 feet
Spacing 1 foot
Type Annual
Uses Casseroles, eggs, fish, sauces, salads, fragrance
Other Keep flowers removed to last longer. Plants may be purple or green.

Bay Laurel
Light Light shade
Type Treat as annual
Uses Seafood, soups, sauces, decorations
Other Native to Mediterranean climate.

Chives - details
Light Sun
Height 8-12 inches
Spacing Close in a row or bunches
Type Perennial
Uses Soups, salads, eggs, cheese, fragrance
Other Cut often to keep vigorous. Flowers are edible garnishes.

Dill - details
Light Sun
Height 3 - 3 1/2 feet
Spacing 9 inches
Type Annual
Uses Flavoring pickles, salads, omelets, herb blends
Other Easily grown from seed.

Light Sun to part-shade
Height 2 feet
Type Perennial
Uses Used to stuff cat toys
Other Protect small new planted transplants from possible cat attack.

Light Sun
Height 18-24 inches
Spacing 1 foot
Type Treat as an annual
Uses Seeds used in tea, cheeses, Italian sausage. Leaves used in salads and for fish.
Other Strong anise aroma & flavor.

Lavender - details
Light Light shade to sun
Height Depends on variety
Spacing Averages 1-2 feet Depends on variety
Type Perennial
Uses Fragrance, landscaping
Other Well-drained, dry soil.

Lemon Balm
Light Sun, part-shade
Height 1 foot
Spacing 2 feet
Type Perennial
Uses Tea, meat sauces, salads
Other Aggressive. Strong soapy lemon fragrance.

Light Sun
Height 1 foot
Spacing 6-12 inches
Type Treat as annual
Uses Soups, meat stuffing, eggs, vegetables
Other Slow growing.

Mints - details
Light Light shade to sun
Height Depends on variety
Spacing Depends on variety
Type Annuals and perennials
Uses Jellies, teas, fragrance
Other Many types. Invasive. Many may be propagated by seed. Peppermint seed is sterile and must be propagated vegetatively.

Oregano - details
Light Sun
Height 1 foot
Spacing 1-2 feet
Type Semi-hardy perennial
Uses Spanish, Mexican & Italian cooking; stuffings
Other Seed grown plants best for everlastings. Use vegetatively propagated plants for culinary uses.

Parsley - details
Light Sun or Shade
Height 8-12 inches
Spacing 8 inches
Type Treat as an annual
Uses Garnish soups, salads, casseroles, vegetables, etc. Blends well with other herbs & is used as a flavor base.
Other Cut outer leaves first.

Rosemary - details
Light Sun
Height 1-3 feet
Spacing 12-18 inches
Type Treat as an annual
Uses Meat, punches, jellies, etc. Fragrance
Other Keep soil moist but not wet.

Light Sun
Height 10-12 inches
Spacing 10 inches
Type Perennial
Uses Landscaping
Other May cause redness, swelling or blistering skin if overexposed to plant.

Sage - details
Light Sun
Height 18-24 inches
Spacing 15-18 inches
Type Perennial
Uses Cheese, sausages, meats, fish, salads, drinks, casseroles, landscaping
Other Colored varieties not as hardy as green varieties. Typically hardy to Zone 5b.

Savory (winter)
Light Sun
Height 12-24 inches
Spacing 6-12 inches
Type Perennial to zone 5b
Uses Canning, stuffing.
Other Needs well-drained soil. Treat as annual in colder zones.

Tarragon (true)
Light Sun, but tolerates light shade
Height 2 feet
Spacing 1 foot
Type Perennial
Uses Fish, meat, salads, vinegar (Use sparingly)
Other Licorice-like flavor. Likes dry soil. Use root cuttings or stem cuttings.

Thyme - details
Light Sun
Height 4-8 inches
Spacing 3-10 inches
Type Perennial
Uses Soups, stuffings, meats (Use sparingly)
Other Needs good drainage. Cut back each year. Divide old plants.

Verbena (lemon)
Light Sun to light shade
Height 3 feet
Spacing 18ñ24 inches
Type Treat as annual
Uses Tea, stir fry, fragrance, landscaping
Other Spider mites a problem.

Tips for Preserving Herbs

The shelf life of many herbs is one to two years but this period is shorter when herbs are exposed to light, heat and open air. Herb leaves keep their flavor best when they are stored whole and crushed just before use. When herb seeds are to be used for cooking, the seeds should be stored whole and ground up as needed.

Bag Drying
To prepare plants for drying, remove blossoms from the herb plant and rinse the leaves on the stem in cold water to remove soil. Allow plants to drain on absorbent towels until dry. Then place the herbs in a paper bag and tie the stems. Leave 1 to 2 inches of the stems exposed. This allows the plant oil to flow from the stems to the leaves. Place the bag in a warm, dry location. In about one to two weeks, when the leaves become brittle, tap them free of the stems and the leaves will fall into the bag. Store leaves in an airtight container away from the light.

Tray Drying
Clean herbs as for bag drying but the heavy stalks can be discarded. Put the leafed stems one layer deep on a tray in a dark, ventilated room. Turn over the herbs occasionally for uniform drying. The leaves are ready for storage when they are dry and the stems are tough.

Microwave Drying

If you have a microwave oven, you can use it to dry herbs. Place the herbs between paper towels and set them on the rack. Close the door and turn the oven on a medium setting for about 2-3 minutes. Then check for dryness; the leaves should feel brittle and should crumble easily. If they are not done, turn the oven on for 30 seconds longer. Although this process actually cooks the herbs, the end product is just about the same as air drying. Store the dried herbs in closed containers.

Freezing Flavor
Herbs may also be frozen. Rinse herbs in cold water and blanch in boiling, unsalted water for 50 seconds. Cool quickly in ice water, package and freeze. Dill, parsley, chives and basil can be frozen without blanching.

Gardening with Herbs was developed by:

Susan Grupp
Extension Educator, Environmental Science
Phone: 708-352-0109

© 2008 University of Illinois Board of Trustees
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