Best herbs for beginners - bee balm in bloom.

Best Herbs for Beginners: Easy-to-Grow

If you want to build your confidence as a gardener, start by growing herbs. They are typically low maintenance, fast growing, and can be used in a wide variety of ways. And to be honest, I’ve been gardening for almost 20 years, and herbs are still one of my favorite things to grow. In this post, I’m going to share some of the best herbs for beginners, a few growing tips, and ways you can use them.

Why Start with Herbs?

Herbs are versatile plants. They are hardy and require minimal care. Most herbs grow quickly and are ready to harvest within the first couple years. Not only that, but herbs can be used in cooking, for medicinal purposes, fragrance, and crafting. Lets jump into this list of easy herbs for beginners!

Should I Start Herbs from Seeds or get Nursery Plants?

Starting from nursery plants ensures a quicker establishment in the garden. As a beginner I would recommend this route to make sure that your first herb garden has a higher success rate. With that being said, the plant starts don’t need to be huge. In fact, my first herb garden began from a twelve starter pack of herbs that I got for $12 at a local nursery. By the second year, those plants had grown immensely and had filled out the raised bed that I had planted them in.

  • Best Herbs to get as a Nursery Plants: Lavender, sage, mint, rosemary, bee balm, oregano, and thyme
  • Best herbs to plant from seeds: Basil, parsley, cilantro, chamomile

Best Herbs for Beginners

1. Lavender

Lavender is an herb that produces beautiful purple or blue flowers and is highly fragrant. It loves well-drained soil, full sunlight, and it is drought tolerant. (If you are a beginner, I recommend purchasing a small lavender plant vs. growing from seed.)

To harvest the lavender, cut the stems a couple inches above the woody base. (Usually if I harvest all the stems on the plant, I can get an additional harvest towards then end of the summer.)

There are lots of creative ways to use fresh lavender from your garden. One of my favorite ways is to make a fresh lavender wreath, or a jar full of lavender-infused honey. You can also dry the buds for future use.

2. Chives

Chives belong to the Allium (or onion) family and are closely related to scallions, garlic, shallots, and onions. They produce long straws of oniony-flavored grass and purple flowers.

The grassy stems of the chive plant can be chopped up and added to egg dishes, potatoes, butters, seafood, salads, and more.

Chives are super-easy to grow if planted in well-drained soil and given a healthy amount of sunshine. Another added benefit is that you can divide the plants every few years.

    3. Mint

    Mint is a great starter herb because of its fresh pop of minty flavor. But be sure to plant it in a pot, because mint spreads by the root and can quickly overtake a garden. Mint likes moist soil and partial shade. If its left in the hot sun for too long it will dry out and die.

    I like to keep mint around not only because my kids like to nibble on the leaves, but because it makes a great addition to salads, as well as, garnishes for desserts making it another one of the best herbs for beginners.

    4. Rosemary

    Rosemary is an amazing hardy herb that likes well-drained soil and full sun. Once the plant is established it is drought tolerant and can handle the heat of the summer.

    Fresh Rosemary leaves can be harvested and used with roasted meats, potatoes, butters, and bread. It can also be infused with oils, vinegars, and even honey.

    Rosemary can also be used to make wreaths, stove-top potpourris, candles, soaps, and more.

    5. Bee Balm

    Bee balm is one of my favorites! It produces bright pink, purple, or red flowers and attracts the pollinators to your garden. If you dead-head the flowers, it will encourage more to keep growing.

    I’ve always had success growing bee balm in full sun, as long as it stays well watered in the hot season.

    Bee balm flowers can be to make teas, tinctures, skin balms, and even in baking.

    6. Basil

    Fresh basil can be used in salads, pasta dishes, and pesto. It pairs beautifully with tomatoes and mozzarella.

    Basil thrives in well-drained soil and full sunlight. If you pinch off the flowers it will encourage the leaves to keep growing.

    7. Thyme

    Thyme is a low-to-the ground herb that looks wonderful spilling over the edge of a raised bed or rock wall. It also produces tiny flowers that attract bees and butterflies to your garden.

    Thyme loves the sun and is another drought-tolerant plant. It is fairly low-maintenance, but regular pruning definitely encourages more growth.

    Thyme’s small, aromatic leaves are perfect for cooking, adding flavoring to soups, stews, meats, and vegetables. 

    8. Sage

    Sage is a full-sun perennial herb that can be used to flavor dishes like roasted meats, stuffing, butters, and sauces.

    It produces blooms of purple, pink, or white flowers in late spring to early summer, that attract bees and butterflies to the garden. It also serves as a pest deterrent plant so you can plant it near the other vegetables in your garden as a way to protect them.

    9. Chamomile

    Chamomile is known for its delicate, daisy-like flowers and calming fruity aroma. It thrives in well-drained soil and prefers full sun but can tolerate a little bit of shade cover.

    Chamomile blooms throughout the summer, and its flowers can be harvested once they are fully open. It can be for used in teas, infusions, and herbal remedies and has a calming affect.

    10. Oregano

    Oregano is an aromatic, somewhat spicy, herb, known for its intense flavor and versatility in cooking. It thrives in well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Whether planted in a garden bed or a container, oregano is low maintenance and can be used in all sorts of dishes.  

    11. Cilantro

    Cilantro seeds germinate quickly and grow at the same rate. To keep the cilantro leaves growing, make sure you pinch off the flowers.

    I like to grow cilantro in my salsa garden , but it can be used for other dishes as well, like salads, soups, curries, and Mexican cuisine.

    Herbs are a fantastic introduction to gardening for beginners. By choosing easy-to-grow herbs like basil, mint, lavender, chives, and rosemary, you can enjoy fresh flavors in your cooking while gaining confidence in your gardening skills. I hope you feel inspired to try some of these wonderful herbs in your garden this year. Happy Gardening!

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