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Growing herbs in home gardens

A quick guide to herbs

  • Many culinary herbs grown in Minnesota are members of two plant families, mint and carrot.
  • Start seeds indoors under fluorescent lights during the late winter months.
  • When planting outdoors, avoid heavy clay soils and wet areas that have a high nutrient content.
  • Most herbs require at least six hours of direct sunlight in order to grow well. All-day sun is even better.
  • Never allow the plants to wilt between watering.
  • Harvest culinary herbs throughout the growing season by snipping sprigs and leaves as needed.
  • There are different ways to dry herbs, including air drying and microwaving.

Herbs for seasoning and other uses

While chiefly grown for seasoning foods, herbs have many other uses. Their oils and fragrances are in cosmetics, perfumes, dyes and potpourris. Their medicinal properties are a focus of research worldwide. Some people use herbal materials in dried flower arrangements and related crafts.

Basil seedlings

Many culinary herbs grown in Minnesota are members of two plant families, mint and carrot.

The mint family, Lamiaceae, includes basil, oregano, marjoram, catnip, all the mints, as well as rosemary, thyme, lavender, summer savory and sage. All have aromatic leaves. Hardy perennials in this family can become invasive, especially mints. These plants are bushy. Most have some tolerance of excessive heat and dry soil.

The carrot family, Apiaceae, includes dill, parsley, chervil, cilantro (also known as coriander), fennel and lovage. Gardeners value all of them for their foliage and seeds. These plants have an upright, leggy habit. They require somewhat more moist conditions, and deeper, looser soil.

Common culinary herbs from other plant families include chives (Alliaceae), borage (Boraginaceae), tarragon (Asteraceae) and sorrel (Polygonaceae).

Soil pH and fertility




How to keep your herbs healthy and productive


Preserving herbs

See Preserving herbs by freezing or drying for more information on how to keep herbs longer.


Types of herbs:

Dill seed head with green stems and yellow foliage
Dill seed head

For specific information on growing and storing herbs, also see:

Jill MacKenzie and Shirley Mah Kooyman

Reviewed in 2021

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