North Carolina, blanketed by the Appalachian Mountains and bordered to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, is a state that has weather and topography that can vary greatly. Its climate encompasses three USDA hardiness zones. Zone 6 is in the central portion of the state, making it necessary for growers to carefully choose plants that will survive in that region. Many herbs, however, most of which can withstand a wide range of temperatures and soil conditions, can be grown in central North Carolina.
Basil can be grown as an annual in North Carolina, both as an ornamental herb and for culinary use. The leaves of this plant, particularly from sweet varieties, serve as ingredients in many dishes, from tomato sauce to salads, and can be dried to use as a spice. Other varieties, including lemon, cinnamon and licorice, for instance, feature other flavors, Purdue University's Center for New Crops and Plants Products, explains.
Thyme is known as one of the hardiest perennial herbs that can be grown in many regions. Some varieties can be used as ground cover while others can reach a foot tall. Many gardeners enjoy growing it in rock gardens, because it requires little water and can be harvested all year, according to GardenAction.com.
Purple coneflower, also known as echinacea, produces daisy-like flowers on sturdy stems that reach up to 3 feet high. Grown mainly as an ornamental, it is also a perennial that requires little care. Flowers also come in white, pink and yellow hues, and bloom all summer, making them good for mixing in flower gardens and to use along borders and meadows, according to Texas A&M University's Horticulture Department.
Lavender can be grown as a perennial in climates as cool as Zone 5 if some protection is provided during severe winters. Some varieties can grow as tall as 3 feet and have pleasing dusty green foliage. But most grow it for its sweet-scented flowers. It grows best in rocky, dry spots that receive full sun, West Virginia State University's Extension Service states.
Oregano, or "wild marjoram," can grow well in poor soil. Its leaves are often dried to use as a strong spice in dishes like lasagna, soup and pizza. West Virginia State University Extension says it smells similar to thyme, but only grows about 2 feet tall.
Often used in dressings, sausage and cheese, sage is a potent herb that lends lots of flavor to many dishes. The shrub grows best in full sun and moderately rich soil and can reach up to 3 feet high. The National Gardening Association says only a few varieties, particularly garden sage (Salvia officinalis), are suitable for culinary use, while others make good ornamentals.