7 Easy Perennials to Grow

Create an outdoor or indoor culinary herb garden with these easy-to-maintain herbs.


| January/February 2017



Oregano

Oregano and marjoram are similar plants.


Photo by iStock

A kitchen herb garden is one of the easiest and most useful gardens you can grow. Herbs require little care. Find a small patch of your yard or a spot for a grouping of containers within 20 paces of the door that gets at least a half-day of full sun. Try these tried-and-true favorites that come back year after year.

Mint

Plant mint, a hardy perennial in most areas, in spring. You can start mint from seed, but plants you buy often have better flavor. Mint is a notoriously aggressive spreader, so it’s best to grow it in containers. Clip growing tips monthly to encourage new growth. Peppermints and spearmints are best for cooking; pineapple mint has beautiful variegated leaves.

Chives

Mild onion-flavored chives produce edible flowers in spring and early summer. You can grow chives from seed, but it’s faster to start with plants. Plant as soon as the last frost has passed. Trim regularly to prolong production. Every few years, divide and replant clumps to encourage new growth. ‘Grolau’ is a great variety for containers; ‘Grande’ features big, broad leaves; try garlic chives for bold flavor.

Oregano/Marjoram

Oregano (and similar marjoram) varies in size, flavor and growth habit; all are easy to grow from seeds or rooted cuttings. (To try this method, strip all but the top three or four leaves from a few sprigs, then snip the lower part so only a little bit of green healthy tissue remains. Plant the cutting in a pot of moist soil, then cover with a plastic bag for a few days.) Pick flowers as they open to add to soups, baked potatoes and roasted vegetables. You can pot and overwinter hardy oregano in an unheated garage, even in colder climates. Greek oregano has the best flavor. Italian oregano is a delicious marjoram-oregano cross. Sweet marjoram may be the only true marjoram.

Rosemary

Superior rosemary cultivars are best purchased as plants. The pungent green leaves are the prize, but you can also harvest the small flowers as they appear in spring and summer to add to egg and vegetable dishes. A woody perennial, rosemary can be pruned back, potted up and kept indoors through winter in cold climates. ‘Arp’ and ‘Hill Hardy’ tolerate more cold than other varieties. Try compact ‘Blue Boy’ in containers.

Sage

This 20-inch-tall woody perennial is pretty cold-hardy, but new plants should be started from rooted stem tip cuttings every other year. Alternatively, start with transplants. Sage’s sweet flowers make an ideal accompaniment to dishes with light flavors. Variegated varieties are less cold-tolerant and more petite. ‘Berggarten’ is a great choice for tight spaces; ‘White Dalmatian’ features silvery leaves; ‘Tricolor’ foliage has pink and white stripes.





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