Herbs are annual or perennial plants that are used as an ingredient for flavoring food or added to fragrances. They are incorporated into teas, soups and condiments. Many herbs are used in fragrance sachets, candles and potpourris. Available in a wide range of shapes, sizes and scents, herbs thrive in at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis "Salem") is an evergreen shrub that not only makes for a savory herb to use in dishes but also is an attractive foliage plant that is ideal grown as a hedge along a border or tucked into containers. Rosemary grows 1 to 3 feet tall and wide and has an upright, mounding form. The green, needlelike foliage on rosemary is highly aromatic and the small, blue, early spring-blooming flowers have a strong fragrance and pinelike flavor. Rosemary grows best in full sun only and prefers a south-facing wall for added warmth and protection against winter. It tolerates poor to moderately fertile soil but must have excellent drainage. Rosemary does well along garden banks or slopes. Plant rosemary in USDA zones 7 to 10.
Thyme (Thymus "Pink Ripple") is a low-growing, spreading perennial herb that has a moderate growth habit. It grows less than 6 inches tall and has a spread of 1 to 3 feet. The small, pale green foliage on thyme hugs the ground and, when crushed, emits a lemon fragrance in the garden. Beginning in early to mid-summer, thyme produces masses of 6-inch-long spikes covered in pink blooms that attract butterflies and bumblebees to the garden. Hardy, thyme is both deer-resistant and frost-tolerant. It grows bets in full sun and well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Plant thyme in USDA zones 4 to 9.
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an annual herb that is the workhorse of an herb garden. It grows 20 to 24 inches tall and 6 to 12 inches wide and has an upright, clumping growth habit. Sweet basil is an ideal herb to flavor soups and pasta dishes as well as added to fresh salads and sandwiches. The oval-shaped leaves on sweet basil range from deep green to purple with blue, white or pink flowers that attract butterflies to the garden. Summer-blooming, sweet basil requires frequent watering, especially during overly warm days. To encourage growth on basil, pinch back the flower heads as soon as they are visible. Sweet basil grows best in full sun and well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Sweet basil is suitable to grow in all USDA zones.