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20 Easy-to-Grow Perennial Herbs

Count on perennial herbs to yield a harvest of flavor and beauty year after year. Discover our low-maintenace and long-lasting favorites.

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Photo: Anne Kramer

Why Grow Perennial Herbs

There are many reasons to plant perennial herbs in your yard. Here are just a few.

They can make a wonderful addition to your landscape and garden beds. Think beyond the vegetable garden and plant herbs all around your yard. If herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano are evergreen in your area, use them to add color and texture to your landscape bed. Mix taller, upright herbs like chives, bee balm and fennel with conifers, flowering annuals and perennials. Many varieties of thyme, oregano and sage are low growers, so use them as groundcovers and garden borders. Other varieties of those same herbs trail down so they can make pretty additions to hanging baskets and window boxes.

Growing perennial herbs is cost-effective in the long run because they come back year after year. Lavender, bay laurel and rosemary plants can last decades and can be divided and planted in other parts of your yard, or your friend’s yard.

Perennials are low maintenance and less work than most annuals. Once established, perennial herbs take only minimal effort regular watering and occasional fertilizing. Herbs that are native to the Mediterranean lavender, oregano, sage, chives, tarragon and rosemary, to name a few — are tough and drought-tolerant as long as you give them plenty of sunshine.

Many perennial herbs attract pollinators and can deter insects. Chives, fennel, lavender and anise hyssop will bring bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to your yard while herbs like mint, sage, thyme, lemon balm and lemongrass can repel pests such as mosquitoes, aphids, flies and fleas.

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Lavender (Lavandula)

Lavender is one of those herbs that can scent an entire garden. The gray-green leaves waft an irresistible fragrance when warmed by the sun, and blooms are aromatic when they open. Flowers appear on long stems atop the mounded plants, remaining attractive for a month or more. Blooms bring a lemon-citrus flavor to beverages, desserts and fruit dishes; leaves can stand in for rosemary in recipes.

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Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)

Sorrel is a sun-loving herb with broad, lance-shaped, bright green leaves. It grows as a perennial in Zones 5 or higher. It has a tart, lemony flavor and makes a great addition to soups, sauces and salads — it's most flavorful when the leaves reach 4 to 5 inches tall.

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary’s evergreen leaves contain a strong pine-like aroma. A few cut stems can scent an entire room. In the garden, provide well-drained soil. Poor drainage sounds a death knell. Rosemary is one of the few herbs that tastes even stronger fresh than dried. Cut stems often to ensure a steady supply of succulent new growth. Choose from upright or creeping types. Plants are hardy in zones 6 to 10; elsewhere, grow rosemary in pots that you bring indoors for winter. Overwinter in a cool room near a bright window.

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