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Herb Gardening Tips For Beginners: The Best Herbs to Plant From Plants

Learn which herbs are best to plant as divisions or as plants
By Pat Herkal
February/March 2002
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Herbs to plant as plants or divisions:
Bay (Laurus nobilis)
Bergamot (Monarda didyma)
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Lady’s-mantle (Alchemilla zanthochlora)
Lamb’s-ears (Stachys byzantina)
Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla)
Mint (Mentha spp.)
Monkshood (Aconitum spp.)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Sage (Salvia spp.)
Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)
Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa)
Thyme (Thymus spp.)
Violets (Viola odorata)

Garden Starting Steps  

Starting seeds  

  1. Clean and sterilize pots or flats.
  2. Buy a potting-soil mix or prepare a custom mixture.
  3. Fill containers with potting mix.
  4. Plant seeds.
  5. Label each plant or row.
  6. Water.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap.
  8. Put under grow lights.
  9. Watch for germination, then remove plastic wrap.

Potting up  

  1. Select pots large enough to allow for root growth.
  2. Grasp small starts by their leaves, not stems.
  3. Separate bunched plants by lightly dropping them (roots first) onto a tabletop.
  4. Select the sturdiest plants.
  5. Discard plants without good root systems.
  6. Dangle the plant’s roots in an empty pot and sprinkle dry soil around them. Or, use a pencil or stick to create a hole in existing soil and then insert the plant’s roots.
  7. Plant starts deep enough to support their fragile stems.
  8. Fertilize with a 1 part fertilizer/3 parts water mix.
  9. Put under grow lights

Hardening off  

  1. Move flats or pots to a porch or other protected outdoor spot.
  2. Keep plants out of direct, hot sun.
  3. Leave plants outside for a few hours at a time.
  4. Move plants back indoors in cold or windy weather.
  5. Gradually increase the time plants spend outdoors over a two-week period.
  6. Water regularly.

Transplanting tips  

  1. Water plants well.
  2. Dig a hole slightly wider than the plant’s current pot and deep enough for the surface soil to match the surrounding garden soil.
  3. Gently dislodge the plant from its pot or container—don’t pull on the plant stem.
  4. Tear away peat pots rather than planting them.
  5. Carefully loosen tightly woven roots.
  6. Fill soil around roots and press firmly to eliminate air pockets.
  7. Water immediately.

Further reading  

Growing Herbs From Seed, Cutting and Root by Thomas DeBaggio (Interweave Press, 1994).

The New Seed Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel (Rodale Press, 1988).

Click here for the main article, Herb Gardening for Beginners.

Pat Herkal is a frequent contributor to The Herb Companion who enjoys the gardening challenges of Wyoming’s schizophrenic Zone 4 climate. She collects hardy roses, underplanting them with a large variety of herbs and perennials. 

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