If you love the idea of herb garden that you can plant once and enjoy over and over again for years to come, then perennial herbs are for you! Here’s how to grow a perennial herb garden, and which herbs to choose.
I realized last year that I really enjoyed watching the few perennial herbs that I had planted grow and spread out each year. The oregano in particular has really matured nicely and curves around the stepping stones that we have in the herb garden end of our veggie patch. I decided this year that I would convert the herb garden area to be completely dedicated to a perennial herb garden so I can really create something beautiful over the next few years as things fill in, without having to worry about leaving space for anything else. We’ve discovered that we prefer to grow annual herbs like cilantro and basil from seed anyway and we just put them in the rows with all of our other veggies. As you can see here, I have some areas that are filled in nicely, but still quite a bit of blank space to work with over the next few years.
Growing a Perennial Herb Garden: Setting Up
Like almost everything else in a veggie garden, most perennial herbs enjoy a spot in full sun, which usually means a spot that gets about six to eight ours of sunlight a day. There are some variegated types of perennial herbs that may like a little bit of protection from the sun for part of the day, so having a small tree or shrub in the area can help provide a bit of shade for part of the day, and add to the charming look of your garden too. 🙂
We have a tree on one corner of our herb garden and it seems to be located in a spot where it’s able to provide a bit of shade while still leaving quite a few sunny hours in that spot. Of course, it’s only getting bigger, so we may have to re-asses the situation in a few years!
Most perennial herbs are quite tough so they will withstand wind and cold exposure quite a bit better than most annual herbs, So no need to worry if you have a windy spot like we do!
Overall you want your soil to be well-drained and it’s a good idea to amend the whole area with a bit of compost before you begin. I also throw a little in each hole I dig before I place a new plant in.
Growing a Perennial Herb Garden: Which Plants to Choose
This is where things can get a little confusing. Typically in a garden centre, all types of herbs, both perennial and annual, will be grouped together and their tags may not have any info on which type they are. Here are some of my favourite easy-to-grow perennial herbs to get you started!
We planted some golden oregano quite a few years ago and it just gets more and more beautiful every year. It’s definitely a highlight of our spring garden. I had some in our last house too and it’s just one of those things that you can’t kill no matter how much you neglect it.
Thyme is a great one because you can get some really beautiful varieties. It’s a great staple to have in the kitchen and its delicate leaves really look great next to the golden oregano, especially. Thyme also spreads quickly so it’s a great one if you’re looking to fill your herb garden in quickly and get it to the point where it looks well-established.
While rosemary is a perennial, it’s usually really only safe to leave it outside if you’re in zone 7 or higher-ish. We’re in zone 6 here and I haven’t had any luck yet with leaving it outside, even with a milder winter. I might be successful if I were to try wrapping it in burlap to protect it, but an even better solution is just to grow it in a pot, enjoy it in the herb garden for the summer, then bring it inside for the winter months.
I’ve mentioned my love of chives before. This is a great first herb to grow for anyone, especially kids because it comes up so early in the spring and it’s just so easy to grow. Chives just really make you feel like you know what you’re doing in the garden. 🙂
Sage is another popular one in perennial herb gardens. This is my first time growing it so I’ll let you know what I think! Follow along with me on Instagram Stories and I’ll keep you up to date on how the garden’s doing throughout the season.
Mint is a super useful herb to have growing in your garden because it comes in handy in so many different recipes. It’s often said that mint is very invasive so it’s a good idea to grow it in a pot rather than in your garden. Of course, we have a lot of space to fill so “invasive” plants are my favourite. 🙂 The problem is that I haven’t had the best luck growing mint. I have one pineapple mint plant that has spread well over the last few years, but the rest of the mint plants that I’ve planted in various places have all died on me. I’ll keep trying to figure it out though because I love the idea of a herb garden with a giant patch of mint!
OK, this isn’t exactly a herb, but we grow cat mint in our herb garden and it’s a really fun one to grow if you have cats. I’ve had this for a couple of years and last year I split it. I’m not so sure how it’s doing this year because it seems a bit small so far, but I hope it comes back as big and fluffy as it was last year!
Who doesn’t love lavender? It’s so pretty and it smells amazing so this is one plant that I think everyone should have in their perennial herb garden. I also have a potted lavender plant on my side porch that’s been trained/trimmed into a topiary. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to plant some in my garden, but I’m really looking forward to seeing these plants grow and grow each year.
These are just a few basics to get you started with your perennial herb garden, but there are so many more interesting varieties out there! Do you have a perennial herb garden? What do you grow in it?
MORE IDEAS LIKE THIS
- The Mayonnaise House Plant Trick
- How to Use Galvanized Containers as Planters
- The Tulip Vodka Trick
- Storing Garden Tools
- How to Sharpen Pruning Shears
- The Creek Line House Gardening Archives
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.