Herbs are plants primarily grown for culinary, medicinal and personal care purposes. In addition to enhancing many cuisines all over the world, herbs are a part of medicinal traditions in many cultures. Herbs and herbal essential oils are also used in soaps, candles and many other personal care products.
Herbs may be grown from seed, from division, from cuttings and from transplants. Most herbs prefer full sun, although a few tolerate partial shade as well. Seed packets or plant tags offer information specific to each herb. Some herbs, such as chives and tarragon, are best propagated via division from existing plants. Division involves digging up a plant and dividing the greenery and roots, then replanting each portion of the plant in soil as soon as possible.
Most herbs are annual plants, meaning they complete their life cycles within a single season. They grow, flower, reproduce by setting seed, then die. Popular examples include basil, dill and rosemary (in areas with harsh winters).
Biennial herbs require two years to complete their life cycles. During the first year, they only produce foliage, which is often picked and used in culinary applications. If allowed to survive into a second year, they will produce flowers and seeds, after which point they will die. Examples include parsley and angelica.
Perennial herbs are frost-hardy and survive year after year. Chives and tarragon are both perennials, as is marjoram. Rosemary is considered a “tender perennial,” meaning it is only perennial in areas with mild winter climates.
Most herbs have similar environmental requirements. They do well in average soil with regular watering. Culinary herbs may have leaves picked and used without harm caused to the plant, as long as all the leaves are not picked at once. Larger herbs that are more established may even have entire stems full of leaves removed without causing harm to the plant.