By Melissa Price
There is something I appreciate with each passing quarter of God’s annual clock. When spring circles back around, awakening from its restorative sleep, I am certain spring is my all-time favorite season. Greens are the brightest in spring. The sun is the perfect temperature in spring. Flowers are their most fragrant … in spring! In this spring planting guide, I will walk you through some of my favorite herb garden ideas for the new year.
One family of plants I eagerly anticipate pushing through the warmed (and usually damp) earth is herbs. Even those that the plant label said wouldn’t overwinter often do, which makes me quite giddy! When the small, innocent little sprigs peak up, I promise not to let dogs, kids, or my husband’s work boots step on them. So much do I care for my herbs that I have come very close to putting yellow police tape around their growing turf just so everyone does get the picture: tread carefully!
Spring Planting Guide: When to Plant Herbs
Although mostly accommodating, not every herb enjoys the winter months and I do have to replant some of them. Parsley, cilantro, and lavender are a few examples. Contrary to what I thought I knew for years, lavender does not like a spring planting. In fact, I learned from the owner of La Bastide des Lavandes that it’s best not to plant lavender past late February or early March. As I look out the window, my sage, rosemary, mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lavender all look healthy and lovely. Chamomile is sleeping soundly in the cracks of my stone walkway. Yes, it can get tall, but I keep it cut close. There are herbs I will be adding to my spring planting this year, and I would like to suggest them to you as well as a part of this spring planting guide. I am especially looking forward to adding a medicinal herb garden to the yard.
Because spring temperatures can change from day to day, be sure to educate yourself on which herbs are best for early spring planting in your area. The herbs I will plant this spring have proven to flourish when planted early.
Herb Garden Ideas: What Herbs to Plant in Spring
If you want a no-fail herb that has more lives than a cat, definitely plant lemon balm. It will spread its love everywhere, but thankfully I don’t mind. I have transplanted lemon balm to many areas in my yard that needed filling in. Lemon balm does well in shade and sun, but does not like competing with pine trees. The trees tend to win when it gets too dry. Lemon balm leaves are bushy and fragrant and its flowers are a pretty yellow. I enjoy lemon balm in tea and water. It’s easy to dry and tincture as well.
Basil will start well as seeds planted indoors, but has proven to be pretty hardy at my house even if a cool snap comes after planting in early spring. There are so many varieties of basil and I grow several. I will admit I don’t use every basil variety in cooking or preservation, but I plant several kinds for bees and other pollinators and for the interest and beauty. Cinnamon basil is a great cut basil and brings interest to fruit salad. I plant purple ruffle basil because it is just pretty. I grow sweet basil so large my arms can’t reach around it; it is the best for pesto and sauces. Lemon basil is my favorite though; I use it in cooking and in flavored water and lemonade. It is THAT lemony.
There are Many Uses for Herbs
Parsley, cilantro, and chervil seeds can be sown directly into the ground before the last spring frost and then again in late summer. There are many uses for each of the herbs: garnish, pesto, tea, salads, and salad topping. My favorite reason to plant these herbs is so they can host the eastern black swallowtail caterpillar. My children and I have sat for hours watching these bright green, yellow, and black-banded caterpillars chomp, chomp, chomp on the leaves and stalks of the plants; disappear into a chrysalis, and then visit as a winged beauty days later.
Peppermint, spearmint, catmint, lemon, apple, chocolate, pineapple, ginger, curly, Corsican, and pennyroyal. ’Nuff said. Mint is amazing and there is a scent and flavor for everyone! It thrives and is hardy. Just close your eyes, choose a variety (or two or three), and enjoy its gift all spring and summer long.
Don’t Plant too Early!
It’s really hard to not just make this spring planting guide a list of every herb and tell you to plant them all this spring, but not all herbs will grow well if planted too early. Two other herbs, chives and dill, will also do well with an early spring planting. They will provide all season long and into the late summer. Dill can be planted several times during the growing season in addition to the initial sowing.
All this thinking on herbs has got my green thumb itching to get into the dirt. The pleasure these herbs bring will delight you to no end and the great thing is you don’t have to wait long to get growing. Happy sowing and may you look forward to this spring with great anticipation of these early herbs.
Melissa Price is a homeschool mother to her son and daughter. She loves her herbs and bees and watching her pigs grow! During the winter months, browsing seed catalogs and drinking hot chocolate at night make for a perfect evening.
Just getting started with your herb garden? In addition to this spring planting guide, get other great herb garden ideas in our herb gardening for beginners article!