What is an Herb? Herbs are plants used for food, flavoring, medicine, or fragrance due to their savory or aromatic properties. The purpose of this post is to introduce common culinary herbs which grow well in Florida and are primarily used in cooking for flavoring and nutrition. Herbs give zest and life to almost any dish and are low in calories and high in healthy nutrients, fresh or dried. Imagine the great flavor from using chopped fresh basil in your green salad or fresh cilantro in your tacos!
What kind of plants are herbs?
All kinds of plants! Herbs can be annuals, which means they grow for a single growing season, or, perennials, which mean they have multiple growing seasons and live for many years. Common examples of annual herbs include basil or cilantro; these herbs will grow until they flower and produce seeds to end their life cycle. Common examples of perennial herbs include rosemary, mint, sage, thyme, or lemon grass. Click here for an additional list: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh020
In addition to growing herbs like one might grow flowers, herbs can be grown as a shrub, grass or tree, integrated into your landscape.
What do herbs need to grow best?
Herbs grow well in Florida, a natural for our climate. As a general rule most herbs do best in full sun (6 hours+) per day and require soil with good drainage. Most herbs tolerate being dry, but not parched. Drainage is a must, but if your soil is predominately sand, be sure to amend it with organic matter to hold some water and provide nutrients. Check the specifics for your herbs of choice, just as you would for any other planting.
How can I multiply my herbs?
Once you start growing and using herbs in your kitchen, you will undoubtedly want more! Pots of herbs make great gifts for friends and family, or can be dried or frozen for future use. Propagating is relatively easy in Florida and sharing with your friends and fellow gardeners is so much less expensive than buying herbs. Annual herbs, like cilantro, can be grown easily and quickly from seeds whereas, perennials, like lemon balm, mint or rosemary, can be grown from cuttings or root divisions as well as seed.
Where can I grow herbs?
Almost anywhere that provides the essentials – direct sunlight, good soil with drainage, and sufficient water.
This article was contributed by Betsy Enloe, a Master Gardener in Volusia county.