Unusual Herbs to Grow

Expand your herb gardening repertoire with these oddball herbs.

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Photo By: Photo by Sara Cozolino

Photo By: Image courtesy Kitazawa Seed Company

Photo By: Image courtesy of lovelygreens.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Kitazawa Seed Company

Toothache Plant (Spilanthes oleracea)

Toothache plant is aptly named because when you chew the leaves, your mouth goes numb. Valued for its peppery taste, the leaves can be harvested and used in small quantities in salads. What's even more intriguing about this plant is its oddly shaped flowers that resemble miniature eyeballs. It grows 12 to 18 inches tall. Plant it in full sun to partial shade. It's typically grown as an annual.

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)

Stevia has leaves that are several times sweeter than sugar cane. The leaves can be dried and crushed into a powder and used in place of regular sugar; just don't overdo it. Plant size is 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. It prefers full sun and a moist, well-draining soil. Hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 11.

Red Perilla

Perilla, also called Shiso, is an herb from the mint family. Red perilla has an anise-like flavor, while green perilla tastes more like cinnamon. In Japan, green perilla is used in sushi, soups, and tempura, or added to rice. In Korea, a larger variety is marinated and used as a wrap for barbecue or eaten raw in salads. Plant the seeds in spring and allow about 70 days to harvest.

Borage (Borago officinalis)

Borage tastes like cucumber, and eating borage is said to give you courage. It does best in full sun. Plant size reaches 2 to 3 feet tall; the flowers are blue and star-shaped. Note: This plant reseeds. Typically grown as an annual.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale)

Lovage is a flavorful herbaceous perennial herb. To the untrained eye, lovage looks a lot like flat-leaf parsley, but the flavor is nearly identical to that of celery. It also has yellow, umbellate flowers. It grows 4 feet tall and about half as wide. Plant it in full sun to partial shade and a moist, well-draining soil. Hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 8.

Winter Savory (Satureja montana)

Winter savory resembles thyme in appearance, yet it tastes like a cross between sage and rosemary. It produces small pink flowers. Winter savory grows 6 to 12 inches tall and wide. Winter savory does well in either full sun or partial shade.

Lemongrass plant

Widely used in Asian and Latin American cuisine, lemongrass offers a light, citrusy flavor that tastes like lemon but without any bitter or acidic aftertaste. It's perfect for teas and fish.

Chinese Flowering Leek

Chinese flowering leek is a perennial used for its flower buds, stems, and long, flattened leaves. It's used by Asian chefs to add a subtle garlic and onion flavor to foods. The flowers usually take two years to appear, and need low temperatures in the winter and long growing days in the summer. Use this herb in stir fry dishes or salads.

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