Plants can be of two main types: annuals and perennials, and while the annuals are species that go through their entire life cycle, from germination through to maturity and crop production within a single year, perennials, live for several years.
Perennials bloom, crop and die back within a year as well, but their rootstock remains, so the next year’s flowers and crops come from it.
Perennial herbs offer you an option to have a steady supply of fresh herbs in an affordable way, without having to cultivate new plants every season.
There are several advantages to growing perennials on your site, and here are some of them:
- These plants readily lend themselves to the propagation method of dividing, which involves digging up the root clump of the plant and splitting it into two or more separate plants
- Perennials have a greater variety and more various blooming times. Additionally, they are generally hardier than annuals, so they are able to survive extreme weather events, and still produce a crop
- The root systems of these plants improve the structure of the soil, as they remain in it, and grow over successive years.
This benefits all the plants in the area, as well as the microorganisms in the soil, as it provides oxygen and water, as well as routes through the soil to enable them to process more organic matter.
- The deeper root systems in the soil help perennials bring nutrients up to the surface, where even annuals can access them.
This is useful for elements like nitrogen, which is essential for plant growth, and trace elements, like magnesium and iron
- The root systems of perennial plants are also able to draw moisture in the upper levels of the soil, so that other, shallower rooting, plants will regain access
- Perennials preserve the moisture of the soil so it is not left exposed, and become a cover crop that protects the soil from evaporation by the sun.
Therefore, plant the following plants and they will flourish for years if you treat them in an adequate way:
1. Lemon Balm
Plant it in a raised container by itself to prevent unwanted spread, and as soon as it starts to grow, pinch off as many leaves as you need. Once or twice annually, you can cut the whole plant down leaving about 2 inches above the soil, and hang and dry upside down in a dark place.
You can add the leaves in boiling water to make lemon balm tea, add them to balms and tinctures, or freeze fresh lemon balm in ice cubes to use in refreshing summer beverages.
Thyme thrives in hot conditions with full sun and needs thorough watering. You can use the harvested thyme sprigs fresh just before the plant flowers or anytime throughout the growing season.
You can also dry or freeze thyme and store it for later use. You can use thyme to season dishes with chicken, fish, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, and roast potatoes.
You should plant it in an area with full sun, and in well-draining soil, and harvest it before the flowers are completely open. Just grab a large bunch near the base of the plant, cut with sharp shears, and tie the bundle together.
Hang it upside down in a warm-dry place, and use it after 2-4 weeks. Just shake off its blossoms and leaves and store them in an airtight jar.
Use lavender to garnish various dishes, like salads, bread, and ice cream, make sachets of dried lavender out of breathable fabric and keep them under the pillow to boost sleep quality, or mix it with essential oils for a freshening room spray.
Start established mint plants instead of seeds, and plant them in a container or a separate herb garden. Pick the leaves when needed or cut down to one inch above the soil right before flowering. Add mint leaves to refreshing drinks, salad dressings, sweet and savory dishes, or mix them with berries and Greek yogurt.
It should be grown in full sun in well-drained, moist soil. It is not useful when dried, so throughout the growing season, snip the new growth from the top of the plant and use it right away. You can add it to salsa, cooked veggies, and meat and salad dressing.
Rosemary is best grown in well-drained, sandy soil in full sun, with lots of room to spread the roots. Inc established you can trim it back weekly and use the fresh clippings right away. Wait for it to bloom if you want to dry it.
Use it fresh to make tea, or add a few stalks in an oil bottle, to make rosemary infused oil which is delicious when drizzled over potatoes or roasted veggies.
This herb is best when sown from a young plant in full sun with well-draining soil. Clip off a few inches of it just above the spot when the leaves meet in the first growing season, distribute the leaves on a flat surface to dry and crumble them.
Use it to season meat dishes, especially poultry. Also, sage leaves are used in purifying smudging methods of the home and for cleansing the air from toxins and bacteria.
Plant oregano in full sun in well-draining soil, and harvest it when the flower buds form. Just cut back to just above a cluster of leaves with sharp scissors or shears, tie bundles together and hang to dry in a dark, dry spot. Oregano is mostly used in sauces and homemade pizza.
9. Roman Chamomile
Plant it in cool conditions in full sun to part shade with dry soil. Harvest the chamomile flowers, and when the flower petals are white with vibrant yellow centers, pluck the heads from the stems.
Store blossoms in a large paper bag to dry for at least two weeks. You can prepare chamomile tea before bedtime to treat insomnia.
Plant chives in rich, fertile, moist and well-draining soil, in an area with full sun, and harvest it two months after seeding.
Chop leaves the all the way back, leaving the plant 1-2 inches above the soil, and freeze them in an airtight bag or use fresh. You can sprinkle fresh chives on a baked potato, fish, egg dishes, and omelets.