Read these 50 Herbs Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Garden tips and hundreds of other topics.
Stinging nettles are a valuable source of vitamin C, vitamin K, minerals and iron. When they emerge in the spring, the fresh shoots make a delicious bright green blood-purifying tea. Nettles have traditionally been used to encourage the production of breast milk, and to aid the kidneys and immune system. They stimulate the lymphatic system in a slow, gentle way and they are used as nutritional support for long-term and chronic disorders. They can be cooked fresh in the same manner that you would cook spinach - or, they can be dried and added to soups and casseroles.
If you wear gloves while you pick and prepare nettles, you won't get stung. Once they've been cooked, their stinging properties disappear. Clip their stems with scissors, rather than pulling them up by the roots, and the plants will continue to sprout in that location every year.
Sage, also known as salvia officinalis, is a fine addition for any herb garden. Sage leaves are oblong, wrinkled in appearance and gray-green in color. The plant's lilac blue blossoms are quite pretty. This plant can grows to a height of two feet and will sprawl out unless it is kept trimmed.
Sage is aromatic, with a slightly bitter taste. It is most frequently used in poultry dishes and stuffing.
This herb can be started from seeds and cuttings or divided from existing plants. It is best to plant sage in a sunny location once all danger of frost has passed and the seedlings reach three to four inches in height. The best time to harvest Sage is before the plants bloom.
Sweet basil, also known as ocimum basilicum, is a fine addition for any herb garden.
Basil's blue green, feathery foliage grows two to four feet tall. The plants produce tiny yellow flowers. Both the leaves and seeds of basil can be used in cooking many of your favorite recipes.
Planting this herb is easy. Basil can be started from seed between April and July and should be planted in a well-drained, sunny area. It is best to thin the seedlings to eight to ten inches apart.
One of the easiest methods for drying herbs involves using a pot rack. Simply fasten small sprays of herbs together with rubber bands and hang them upside down on the rack.
Don't use string to hold the herb sprays together, because the string won't shrink as the herbs dry. The drying herbs will slip from the string and fall to the ground.
If you think of pickles, you probably also think of dill. The two are synonymous. Dill is a great plant for the beginning gardener. It is an annual, and grows rapidly. Simply sow your seeds in a sunny location with moist soil.
The flat yellow flowers are beautiful when dill is planted in a clump. It readily re-seeds itself if it is left alone until the seed heads ripen. Dill can grow from three to seven feet tall.
Plant your kitchen herbs in a container near your kitchen door. That way, you have fresh herbs at your fingertips when you are cooking.
Plant two or three varieties of basil, as well as thyme, oregano and sage, in a large barrel. A few nasturtiums around the edge add bright color and a peppery taste to salads. Other popular kitchen herbs are parsley and rosemary.
Thyme, also known as thymus vulgaris, is a fine addition for any herb garden. This plant is low growing, reaching about four to eight inches tall, and has wiry stems. Thyme has leaves that are small, oval shaped and gray or green in color. This herb produces pretty clusters of purple flowers.
You can start thyme plants from seed or cuttings. Later, divide plants for additional planting.
Do you know that several traditional medicines help provide cold relief? They do not work on severe colds or flus and are most effective when they are taken at the first sign of the onset of a cold. Their effects may be limited once the cold takes hold. These plants are echinacea, yarrow, goldenseal, coltsfoot leaf, and dandelion root. To use these cold relief herbs, steep one tablespoon of herbs in one cup of hot water. Remember, this is a medicine, not just a nice cup of tea. It is best taken before bedtime. These herbs can be found at most health food stores and some pharmacies. You can take them singly or in combination.
Borage is an interesting and easy plant to grow. The tender shoots of this annual are tasty when young, but develop a stiff, prickly feel when older. Borage produces very deep blue star shaped flowers from late spring to late summer. Bees love them and they make an interesting honey. The blue flowers are a great edible flower to put on wedding cakes or candied as a treat.
Peppermint and spearmint are hearty plants that are a fine addition for any herb garden.
Reaching two feet in height, peppermint has dark green leaves, a reddish stem and lovely lavender flowers. Spearmint is lighter green in color with pink flowers. They both have a spicy, minty scent.
Mints can be used in dishes, hot or iced tea and in sachets or potpourri.
Mint can take over a garden and needs to be divided or weeded out often. It is best to space your plants at two foot intervals.
Harvesting the plants is simple. Just cut the whole plant back to 1 inch above ground level just prior to blooming. Use peppermint and spearmint fresh or dry in foods or teas.
Chives are a wonderful and delicious addition to any garden. Most people only use them in the herb garden, but they make a wonderful border in any garden. Chives will grow in a variety of habitats, but give the best flavor and bloom when grown in fertile, damp soil. They bear large globular balls of purple or pink flowers in the summer. The exact bloom time depends on cultivar and conditions.
The unusual purple blooms of monkshood grace our gardens from August through October. These plants prefer low woodland areas and damp slopes. They are a good addition to many shade gardens. The entire plant is poisonous and is used to treat sciatica and neuralgia. Monkshood should not be used unless you are under the strict supervision of a physician. This plant is a perennial and will not produce blooms until the second year.
Lovage is a more flavorful alternative to celery. Celery was developed from lovage to be used as a vegetable. Celery has large stalks and tiny leaves, while lovage has smaller stalks and larger leaves. Lovage tastes just like celery, but is about ten times stronger. It is a biennial and blooms in the late summer to early fall. Lovage is very easy to grow.
Ever get a case of the blues? St. John's Wort may be just the thing. St. John's Wort has been traditionally used to battle minor depression. But it does not work for all depression, especially where there is an underlying problem. St. John's Wort may help for an occasional pick me up if you are suffering from mild depression, but if the depression is moderate, chronic, or severe, seek the advice of a professional. This plant cannot cure all of your problems.
Pineapple mint is a wonderful herb that has bright green leaves with white edges. The leaves are ruffled and bumpy. The foliage adds contrast from early spring to late fall. Pineapple mint is a low growing plant and fills in nicely around the base of bushes. It does not tend to be as invasive as other types of mint and has a wonderful scent. Pineapple mint makes a wonderful addition to your summer fruit salad. Plant some and enjoy!
At the end of a stressful day, why not enjoy a soothing tea to calm the soul. A cup of chamomile tea just before bed can really help calm your spirit. The sweet smell and gentle flavor of this soothing tea can make all of the worries just float away. Chamomile's calming properties have been known and used since Roman times. Use one teaspoon of chamomile flowers to one cup of hot water and steep for five minutes.
Tired of the same old marigolds? Why not try a very old cultivar, the calendula. Calendula grows very easily from seed as an annual. It will reward you with beautiful daisy-like blooms in a wide range of reds, oranges and yellows. Calendula starts blooming around the end of June and continues through September, if dead headed regularly. The petals are edible and beautiful in salads and on wedding cakes.
If you are looking for some easy care herbs, you won't want to miss these plants: rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender and parsley. To grow these easy care herbs, you can simply plant them in normal garden soil and water them until they become established. They will settle in and grow happily.
Thyme is useful as a culinary herb and as a landscape plant. When properly pruned, this plant can grow into a low hedge. I have seen thyme planted close together and pruned to create formal Celtic knot gardens or used as a border and allowed to sprawl over edging rocks. Thyme should be pruned in the spring as soon as new growth starts to appear. Simply hold up the top and snip off the tips. Use the clippings to flavor soups. Thyme is fairly drought tolerant, but can handle a bit of dampness, as well.
Wormwood is a wonderful plant for year round interest. This plant has silvery-green foliage and develops yellow fuzz ball-like flowers in late summer. It is very easy to grow. There are several horticultural cultivars, all of which have different growth characteristics. You have to read the label and pay close attention to the size on the label when deciding where to place this one in your garden.
Eyebright tea is one of the oldest conjunctivitis cures. To prepare, steep one tablespoon of eyebright in one cup of hot water. Use a sterile dropper and place one drop near the tear duct. Tilt the head and allow it to roll in. This feels very soothing. Before you decide to use this cure, be sure that you really dealing with conjunctivitis and not something more serious. If you're not sure, consult your physician.
You can easily grow your own pepper with black mustard plants. Black mustard is an annual and prefers rich soil. Plant the seeds in the spring. After the yellow flowers disappear, reddish brown seeds appear. When these ripen and the whole plant dries, cut down the tops and beat the branches against the inside of a bowl. The seeds will fall out. Toss the bowl up and down a few times, catching the seeds. The seeds will go to the bottom and the chaff, being lighter, will come to the top. Then, you can pour the seeds into your favorite pepper mill.
Angelica bears balls of greenish-white flowers arranged like satellites around a center. It bears flowers from mid-summer to early autumn. Angelica is a perennial. The seeds rapidly lose viability and should be sown as soon as they are ripe. You can also propagate this plant by dividing the roots in the fall. Angelica is used to make a very popular candied confection. It also is a favorite ingredient of liquors.
Blue cohosh is a commercially important medicinal herb which has been almost eradicated by over harvesting and over collecting. It grows in rich woodland soils and has unusual shaped leaves. It is a great addition to shade gardens with rich soil. It has many applications as a hormone regulator for women.
Peppermint or spearmint tea can help relieve an upset stomach. Place one teaspoon of dried leaves in one cupful of boiling water. Let the tea steep, covered, for five minutes. This is a good remedy for children. Chewing on the fresh leaves will have the same effect. If you don't care for mint, fennel seeds can also soothe an upset stomach.
Arnica is a difficult plant to grow, but well worth it. This plant prefers sandy acid soils, rich in humus. Arnica grows in the central and northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. It is slow to germinate, sometimes taking as long as two years, so the best way to propagate it is by root division in the spring. Arnica produces large daisy-like flowers in the mid-summer to early autumn. This is a protected plant in Europe.
Parsley, also known as, petroselinum crispum, is a fine addition for any herb garden. There are two types of Parsley. The tupes-curled has tightly curled foliage, while the Italian curled, has broad, flat leaves and a stronger flavor. Parsley is primarily used as a garnish. Add Parsley to soups, potatoes, omelets and salads of any kind.
It is best to plant the seeds in early spring in rich soil. Parsley can be harvested as soon as the plants are about six inches tall. You can store the leaves fresh in a jar in the refrigerator or you can dry out the leaves for later use.
Parsley requires a rich soil containing lime. In order to thrive the soil this herb is planted in must be kept moist, but well drained. Using mulch can help retain moisture.
Rosemary, also known as rosemarinus officinalis, has several uses. You can use Rosemary either fresh or dried in many of your favorite dishes for extra flavor. Rosemary is also popular as a hair rinse for brunettes.
This herb is an evergreen shrub that reaches two to four feet in height. It has needle-like, leathery, dark green leaves with blossoms of pale lavender blue in color. The entire plant has a balsamic smell.
The most interesting feature of the greater celandine plant is not the flowers or the leaves, although it does make a pretty, round bush. The most interesting feature is the bright orange sap that oozes when you break the stem. This sap is used to remove warts, but can cause contact dermatitis. Greater celandine is extremely acidic and loves to live in acidic soils. It will also grow well in rocky, harsh soils.
Did you know that yellow dock root has the highest known amount of plant based iron? It is good for people with anemia and a generally low iron content. As with any herbal remedy, seek the advice of a certified herbalist or your doctor before using this high iron herb. Excessive use of this plant can cause liver or kidney failure.
The fuzzy, soft light greenish grey foliage of lambs' ears makes a wonderful contrast plant for an garden. It is a low grower and easily fills in bare spaces. Lambs' ears can survive a bit of neglect and grows in almost any soil. This was an important plant to civil war era apothecaries.
Anise is a licorice flavored herb that has several wonderful benefits. Anise is a good host for predatory wasps which prey on aphids. Anise deters pests from brassicas and coriander by camouflaging their odor. This herb improves the vigor of any plants growing near it. Anise is also used in ointments to protect against bug stings and bites.
Horseradish is one of the traditional bitter herbs of Passover. If you want to grow it, give it plenty of room. Stick horseradish in a back corner, because it gets very large and competes with everything. This plant tolerates most damp soils. The flowers are not very impressive and you will probably miss them unless you watch closely.
If you are troubled by mild rashes or pimples, a comfrey poultice may help to make them go away. Simply make a strong tea using a half cup of comfrey leaves to one cup of hot water. Apply to your skin using a clean wash rag soaked in the tea. Comfrey tea will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator. Comfrey should never be taken internally.
Yarrow is a common perennial which is very easy to grow in a variety of climates. The original North American yarrow is smaller than most landscape cultivars and blooms with a delicate white flower in early spring. New cultivars have yellow, pink, or red blossoms. These plants grow up to 18 inches tall and bloom much later in the year than their wild cousins. By cutting the blooms, you can get two bloom cycles per season. All varieties of yarrow make wonderful dried flowers.
Southernwood is a showy perennial shrub with feathery light green foliage. It is an evergreen and very easy to grow. The foliage repels insects and has been traditionally used as a strewing herb in houses. The flowers are yellow, and inconspicuous, like tiny yellow fuzz balls. Southernwood is a wonderful plant for a beginner. Regular pruning will make it grow bushy; otherwise, it has a tendency to get leggy.
Horehound can help ease coughing. You can make a tea by adding one tablespoon of horehound leaf to a cup of hot water and allowing it to steep for five minutes. Some wonderful cough drops are available at most grocery stores made from horehound, lemon, honey, eucalyptus and a variety of other things. These are very soothing and a good alternative to traditional lozenges. Old timers used to make hard tack candy with horehound in it.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|