8 Easy to Grow Herb for your indoor and outdoor garden
Culinary herbs are often touted as the best choice for gardeners looking to increase their return on investment, both in monetary terms and in terms of "flavor" return.
It's easy to see why and I couldn't agree more!
Walking down the produce section in any grocery store is a sure way to make most people shed a tear at the high price of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. Reaching for that tiny, plastic wrapped pack of basil, chives, cilantro or any other herb means an instant alarm bell for many people's wallet.
It doesn't have to be that way. Granted, some herbs are finicky and have famously low germination rate (I'm staring at you, peppermint!). Anyone struggling to sprout a healthy, sturdy rosemary or mint plant from seed knows what I'm talking about. Those herbs are best purchased as starts and then kept as potted plants as it usually takes a lot of time and specific conditions to grow them from seeds. It's just too aggravating to even try for most gardeners, let alone the poor beginner who will wonder why he doesn't have a "green thumb".
Best to focus our efforts on easy to grow herbs that are virtually bullet proof, even for the complete beginner. Lucky for us, those are plenty and offer every gardener an opportunity to shine, regardless of their ability, space requirement and budget.
All the herbs you'll find on the list below are easy to germinate, grow and harvest both indoors and outdoors. All they need is a touch of sunlight, some soil with average fertility and water. In no time, you can be taking out those snips to collect your next pasta topping, dressing secret ingredient or salad flavor-booster.
8 Easy to Grow Herbs
Chives are a famous French "fines herbes" and for good reason. The delicate flavor of those slender oblong leaves pair well with many dishes. Sprinkled atop an omelet, a spring salad or a simple bowl of soup, chives are sure to elevate the flavor combination of any preparation.
It's just an incredible luck that it's one of the easiest herb to grow. Want a bonus with this? It's also a perennial that will happily live on, year after year, both in pots, garden beds and indoors.
Even better? The delicate blooms are not only also edible but delicious! The taste is the same as the leaves, but much mellower. Try them for a special topping to salads to wow your guest! Compliments are sure to follow.
Chives come in two distinct varieties, Garlic Chives and Common Chives. Those two varieties have identical growing requirement, both boast very different flavor profile and yet are distinct from each other and will not cross pollinate.
Garlic chives is often found in Asian dishes thanks to its pungent and distinctive garlicky flavor while Common Chives is found in all sorts of classic European dishes, from deviled eggs to oven roasted fish.
Garlic Chives are striking plants with a pungent garlic flavors that pairs well with Asian dishes. Their blooms are edible and offer a nice, mellow garlic taste. They are just as easy to grow as the Common Chives.
Chives is most often added at the very end of the cooking process or as an after cooking garnish as its delicate flavor is easily obliterated by high heat.
But as delicate as its flavor is, it is a remarkably sturdy plant. The seeds of both chive types are extremely similar in size and appearance to that of onions. , to which they are closely related.
To successfully sprout and grow chives, plant 2-3 seeds at 0.25" depth in groups 1 inches apart. Chives love to grow close together, so don't be afraid to over-sow. The best size pot for starting chives tends to be on the smaller size with frequent repotting in the early stages of the plant's life.
As a general rule, I recommend a 4 in pot if you plan on keeping you chive in the same size pot for a longer period of time, but feel free to use whatever size you have on hand.
Chives plants are also very easy to propagate once they reach one year or older. Simply cut a portion of the "clump" and relocate to another sunny spot in your garden. You will love them so much that you might even incorporate them in your flower beds!
Dill is an incredibly versatile herb and one that is very easy to grow. Both the seeds and the frilly, delicate leaves are used in cooking.
Dill grows very well indoors and outdoors provided it is located on a sunny windowsill with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight.
Dill takes a long time to germinate, between 7-21 days, so be patient when sowing your plants and keep the soil evenly moist until the seedlings have at least 2 true leaves (those are the leaves that grow after the initial first sprouts).
Dill plants are easy going from the start and if you keep your soil moderately moist, they will reward you with a generous amount of fresh leaves for your next Borsht soup, salad or fish dish!
The key to an ample dill harvest is to pinch off the flower bloom as soon as it appears. This will force the plants to keep producing more leaves and give you more time before it inevitably goes to seed and dies. Remember: dill is an annual plant and producing seed is its ultimate goal. It will eventually die, no matter how hard you try to keep it alive! The plant's natural life cycle is just short, so best to avoid disappointment and plan on sowing more dill seed every months to keep a steady supply of this delicious herb on hand.
If you plan on growing dill outdoors, allow it to bloom so you can harvest the dill seeds as well as its leaves. Dill will self pollinate and does not cross pollinate with any known wild plant, so you can use a part of your seeds for safekeeping for the next season's planting as well as your cooking.
Another great reason to grow dill outdoors: this plant is a well loved habitat for many beneficial insects. Ladybugs adore its lacy foliage, pollinating wasps, native bees and flies crawl all over its umbel shaped blooms and the Swallowtail butterfly uses it as a hosts.
What's not to love?
Basil is one of the most beloved and well known herbs in the culinary world. Its flavor is described as a balance between sweet and savory, with hints of mint, anise, and pepper. While the initial flavor has pronounced tones of black pepper, this aromatic herb ultimately adds a hint of sweetness to any dish.
Many gardeners want to grow the classic Italian basil and those will be happy to know that Basil sits firmly atop one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed. A single seed packet contains a minimum of 150 seeds (most often for the seeds sold by Ethos Seed Company, the exact count is closer to 300, but this is just me bragging). With a high germination rate and easy growing requirement, this means that a single pack of basil is enough for most large family's basil needs!
But don't stop there. Basil sold in store is usually found in either of 2 categories: thai basil and italian basil. Gardeners, on the other hand, are afforded such a wide range of basil flavor and colors that many won't be able to stop at just the 2 classic.
It should be noted that the growing requirement for any member of the Ocimum basilicum family is the same.
Our Easy to Grow Culinary Herb collection offers 2 basil varieties, Italian Large Leaf Basil and Lemon Basil, but we have many more in store for your tastes. Why not add the subtle yet stunning Corsican Basil to your windowsill? Or the visually stunning Purple Ruffles?
All these basils grow the same way. They germinate in 6-10 days and grow fast in a moderately fertile, uniformly moist and well draining soil. Do not over water your basil, but don't let it dry out completely either. A basil plant that is subject to drought will go to seed much faster and develop a bitter, less appealing taste.
To keep your basil plant producing for longer and larger harvests, pinch off the tip of the plant when it has 4 to 6 true leaves. This will force your plant to branch out and keep producing more leaves. Pinch of any flowering tip to prevent the plant from going to seed. Don't worry if it eventually flowers and die. You have likely nothing to reproach yourself: basil is an annual plant and its lifecycle is short.
Keep sowing more basil plant every 4 weeks for a continuous harvest. Alternatively, basil is very easy to grow from cutting. Simply snip a green branch, strip it from its bottom leaves and place in a glass of water. New roots will shoot in no time and you will have an entirely new basil plant to munch on!
Chervil is one of those too often forgotten herbs that I wish I saw in every garden I visit! With an incomparable subtle flavor and delicate structure, chervil is primarily known for its faint flavor of anise or licorice. Often compared to the flavors of fennel, tarragon, and parsley, chervil has a more mild effect on the taste buds than its herbaceous counterparts.
Beloved in French cuisine, it is also very easy to grow from seeds and incredibly cold tolerant. With a lower than most light requirement, chervil will grow happily on most sunny windowsill without any additional lighting. This also means that the gardener can make use of those shady, hard to grow spots in their garden with this delicate herb.
When nothing else will grow in a shady spot, try chervil!
Parsley is ubiquitous in Mediderranean cuisine, present in salad, soups, atop meat dishes. Many people use it daily without even thinking about it!
The health benefits of this humble, common herb are well known and many tout it as the ultimate "super food".
It's also one of the easiest, fool-proof and cold hardy herb we can grow in our indoor and outdoor gardens.
Parsley seeds germinate slowly, in 14-35 days depending on moisture and temperature, so be patient and don't give up on your seedling. Many healthy, perfectly viable parsley plants have found themselves in the compost pile because an inexperienced gardener didn't have the patience to wait for the tiny seeds to poke through the ground!
To grow your parsley successfully, sow 3-4 seeds in the center of a 4 inch pot and cover them with a thin layer of seedling compost or vermiculite. Water well (preferably with a sprayer) and cover the pot with a plastic film. Monitor the condition of your seeds daily, starting at day 10-14. As soon as the seedling emerge, allow for ventilation or remove the plastic entirely. your parsley seedling will be slow to start growing, but keep faith. All the plant needs is a bit of time.
Once the parsley plant has 4-6 true leaves, its growth rate will greatly improve and soon, you will be rewarded with a sturdy, drought, heat and cold resistant plant that will keep producing for at least 2 years with minimal maintenance.
As a true biennal, parsley will develop a flower head in its second year. You will then have the choice of allowing it to bloom or remove it and start with a new plant.
On an alternate note: parsley is also a host plant for the Swallowtail butterfly! We always sow a few extra plants and allow the Swallowtail butterfly to take over to help this wonderful and helpful pollinator on its journey.
Cilantro tops the list as the easiest culinary herb to grow for so many reason! First of all, both the plant, immature seeds and mature seeds are edible and make equally great additions to our meals. Few people outside the gardening community ever get to enjoy the green, immature seed pods of cilantro and I encourage you to grow it, if for this reason alone.
Cilantro is also very cold hardy. In fact, we grow it year long in our Zone 6 garden, providing it with just a plastic film as protection in the coldest weeks of the year.
Cilantro seeds are large and round and can be sown 4 inch apart, either in thick "carpet" style or in rows. As a general rule, I sow mine 4 inches apart in pots 4 inch or larger, but never in pots bigger than 12 inches. The plant's root system is not large or deep enough to justify me devoting my larger containers to it.
Cilantro grows very well under most houses average temperature. All it needs is a sunny windowsill and it will grow happily for many weeks. As with other annual plants on this list, keep its flower heads snipped off to increase the harvest window.
We sow cilantro from March to November, a few handful at a time, every 2 weeks or so to insure a constant supply. As the plants tend to bolt prematurely in the hottest parts of the summer, we gradually sow them into the shadiest parts of the garden over the months of July and August.
If you've read this entire article, I can assume that you are interested in growing your own delicious and economical supply of fresh herbs.
Luckily for both of us, Ethos Seed Company has a solution for this!
We now offer curated seed collections, selected by a Master Gardener with all the seeds listed above. The collection comes packaged in a resealable, moisture resistant and light excluding pouch. Inside the pouch, each individual seed is packed inside a resealable poly bag, clearly labeled with all the relevant information and a QR code linked to a complete growing guide.
Bonus: our blog offers growing guide, tips and tricks as well as healthy recipes to make the most of your harvest.
Do you have any other herb that are easy to grow? Did you grow our seed collection and want to share the results with our readers? Leave a comment below!