Growing Herbs in Florida

Thyme, photo: UF/IFAS

Theresa Badurek, UF/IFAS Extension, Pinellas County

Attention all cooks and lovers of great food! Fresh herbs are always more flavorful in dishes and you (yes you!) can grow them yourself. They are easy to grow and most don’t need a lot of space. So, read on to learn how to grow your very own, very delicious herbs.

Most herbs can be grown year-round here and most are well-suited to growing in containers. That makes herbs perfect plants no matter what size your garden may be- even if it’s just a balcony or patio. Herb plants are attractive and smell great too. The best part is that you generally only need small quantities at a time to flavor food so you can keep harvesting and harvesting as they grow. Starting most herbs from seed is simple, making these plants even easier.

Mint, photo: UF/IFAS

There are both annual (live just one season) and perennial (live for several – many years) herbs and they should be grouped in planters or gardens accordingly. You wouldn’t want to disturb your perennial plants every time you needed to remove and replant the annuals! Most herbs need full sun and very well-drained, slightly moist soil. As with everything there are always exceptions: mint, chervil, and parsley like soils that retain more moisture, for example. You can even grow herbs inside if there is sufficient sunlight. Fall is a great time to start your herb garden.

Here are some herbs that are perfect for fall planting in Florida:

  • Anise- small, grown for seeds, attractive border plant
  • Basil- smells great, variety of leaf colors, great potted plant
  • Borage- pretty blue/purple star-like flowers used to garnish beverages and salads
  • Chervil- aromatic, decorative leaves used to garnish soups and salads
  • Coriander- aromatic seeds, fresh leaves referred to as cilantro
  • Dill- young leaves and fruits give dill pickles their name, grow erect up to 4’ tall
  • Fennel- common fennel grown for shoots, leaves, and seeds, licorice-like flavor
  • Garlic- similar to onion but produces a compound bulb consisting of cloves
  • Ginger- erect perennial produces thick underground tuberous, aromatic rhizomes
  • Lovage- smells, tastes, and looks like celery leaves, leaves and stems used fresh
  • Parsley- leaves used fresh or dried as flavoring or decorative garnish
  • Rosemary- aromatic evergreen shrub, better started from cuttings than seed
  • Sage- leaves used fresh or dried, attractive low-growing border plant
  • Thyme- shrubby perennial herb with purplish flowers and grey-green leaves

Basil, photo: UF/IFAS

For more information on herb gardening Florida, including propagation, harvesting, and curing, visit our publication titled Herbs in the Florida Garden.

Soon you will impress your family and friends with meals prepared with fresh herbs- enjoy!