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How to Grow Herbs in Florida

Medicinal herbs - Chamomilla Recutita image by Shirley Hirst from

Herbs are ideal plants for Florida gardens. The temperate and climate in much of the state allow gardeners to grow flavorful fresh herbs all year round. Although most herbs are drought-tolerant, the plants are tough enough to adapt to Florida's warmth and humidity and even an occasional hurricane. The primary requirement for successful herb gardening in Florida is well-drained soil.

Plant herbs after the last frost of the season. In the warm climate of southern Florida, herbs can be planted any time of year.

Purchase herb plants at a nursery or greenhouse. Choose plants that are compact and healthy, with full color. Avoid plants with yellow or brown foliage or plants that are spindly or weak.

Choose a spot where the herbs will be exposed to sunlight for a least six hours every day. In tropical southern climates, plant herbs where they can take advantage of morning sun, but where the plants will be protected in the heat of the afternoon.

Prepare the soil. Remove weeds, stones and large clods of earth. Use a rototiller or a shovel to work the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Amend the soil with 4 to 5 inches of compost. If the soil doesn't drain well, or is made up primarily of clay, add an extra 4 to 5 inches of compost, or compost combined with coarse sand. A raised bed built from railroad ties, cement blocks, bricks or lumber is another good way to deal with soil that doesn't drain well.

Use a trowel to dig a hole for each herb plant, then plant the herb in the hole. Be sure not to plant the herb too deeply. The crown, which is where the foliage meets the roots, should be just above the soil. Burying the crown can often cause the plant to rot.

Allow 4 to 6 inches between each herb plant. Distance is especially important in Florida's warm, humid climate areas, as adequate air circulation will help to prevent fungus, disease and pests.

Water the herbs lightly until you see new growth, which indicates the plants have rooted. After that time, water the plants when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch.

Clip fresh herbs as desired throughout the growing season. For the best flavor, harvest the plants in late morning, when moisture has evaporated from the leaves.

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