Favorite Herbs for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Here is a list of seven herbs that do especially well in our local climate. Try one or more in your garden or in a pot on your patio this spring.
• Basil — great in pasta sauces, soups, pesto, salads, teas, and to flavor vinegar. Start from purchased seedlings for early-season harvest or from seed after last spring frost for summer harvest. An annual, it loves full sun and will turn black at the first frost. Harvest often for sweeter taste and to prevent from flowering and going to seed.
• Chives — pretty, edible flowers can be used in salads and leaves can flavor salads, soups, and dips. Grows easily from seed and does well in sun and part-sun. It does fine in pots and can adapt to an indoor windowsill. If you do not want it to spread in your garden, cut off the flowerheads before they go to seed.
• Lemon Balm — use in teas and meat dishes, and as a garnish. It likes full sun, but can take light shade. It starts easily from seed, cutting, or division. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family so it carries the warning that it may get out of control if not contained. It winters over fine in a well-drained spot.
• Mint — delicious in teas, sauces, jellies, and salads. It is known as the “alpha herb” for its dominance and invasive tendencies. It will grow just about anywhere including full shade.
• Rosemary — flavors breads, vinegars, teas, and meat dishes. It is hard to start from seed, so obtain a rooted cutting in spring. Add extra gravel to the soil you plant it in for optimal drainage. The variety ‘Arp’ has proven to have the best winter hardiness in our area.
• Sage — seasons meat dishes, eggs, and stuffings. Like rosemary, it grows slowly from seed so purchase a started plant. If it blooms, cut back only the bud bases. If you cut into the woody base growth, it may not come back. It is hardy in our region and, as a bonus: Deer do not touch it.
• Thyme — smells divine in potpourri and teas, use to flavor soups and stews. It can be started from seed or division. Mulch with gravel. Groundcover/ground-hugging thymes are the most winter-hardy and like full sun to part-shade.
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