Ten Best Herbs to Grow in the Upper Midwest

Theresa Mieseler, Shady Acres Herb Farm

Basil, Ocimum basilicum

  • Description: Annual; height 1‐2ʹ. The well‐known sweet basil is a bushy plant with green leaves, white flowers.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, medium‐rich soil in full sun.
  • Propagation: Seed, cuttings.
  • Notes: There are many wonderful varieties of basil available. Those in the ʺredʺ group make excellent herbal vinegars. Try ʹRed Rubin,ʹ or ʹDark Opalʹ. They also add striking foliage color to the garden. Sweet basil varieties are ‘Napoletano’, ‘Mrs. Burns Lemon’, ‘Magical Michael’
  • and ‘Genovese’.

 

Chives, Allium

  • Description: Hardy perennial; height 1‐2’. Onion chives is an erect plant with fine green onion‐like leaves and lavender flower heads. Garlic chives is taller with white flowers.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, medium‐rich soil in full sun.
  • Propagation: Seed, but slow germination. Divided clumps as they increase rapidly. Should be divided every 2 or 3 years. Keep heads cut off before it flowers or will have a chives lawn!
  • Notes: The flower head is edible as well as the leaves and make an attractive addition to herb vinegars and fresh salads.

 

Cilantro, Coriandrum sativum

  • Description: Annual. 10‐18”. Call it cilantro, coriander or Chinese parsley, it is commonly grown for fresh use. The plants form a low rosette of leaves then stalks of small white flowers. Use before it flowers for the best flavor.
  • Culture: Well drained soil. Grow it in partial shade to keep it from bolting.
  • Notes: Use cilantro fresh or you can freeze it. It does not dry well. You can however dry the seeds and it as coriander.

 

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia

  • Description: Hardy perennial; height 2ʹ. Narrow gray‐green leaves, sometimes with bluishcast, spikes of lavender flowers.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, alkaline sandy loam in full sun. Prune plants back in spring.
  • Propagation: Seed, cuttings ‐ difficult to root.

 

Marjoram, Origanum majorana

  • Description: Tender perennial; height 8‐12ʺ. Small gray‐green scented leaves, knotted buds of overlapping bracts with small white flowers. Flavor is sweet.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, medium‐rich soil in full sun.
  • Propagation: Seed, cuttings.

  

Mint, Mentha sp.

  • Description: Hardy perennial; height 1‐3ʹ. Shade of green on leaf and color of stem vary according to species; flowers are shades of white or lavender.
  • Culture: Moist, well‐drained, medium‐rich soil in partial shade. Grow in a large container.
  • Propagation: Cuttings, division.

 

Oregano, Greek, Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum

  • Description: Hardy perennial; height 2ʹ. Light green oval leaves with downy underside, white flowers in terminal clusters. Flavor is peppery.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, medium‐rich soil in full sun.
  • Propagation: Cuttings.

 

Parsley, Petroselinum crispum

  • Description: Annual or biennial; height 8ʺ. Flower stalks appear in spring of second season.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, medium‐rich soil in full sun.
  • Propagation: Seed are slow to germinate. Soak seeds overnight in water prior to sowing.

 

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis

  • Description: Tender perennial in the north. Dark green, needle‐like leaves, woolly white on underside, flowers can be pale blue, dark blue, white and pink.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, medium‐rich, alkaline soil in full sun; often grown in containers.
  • Propagation: Seed ‐ slow to germinate, cuttings.

 

Sage, Salvia officinalis

  • Description: Hardy perennial; height 18‐30ʹʹ. Gray‐green oblong leaves, veined surfaces gives pebbly effect, purple flowers on whorls in loose spikes.
  • Culture: Well‐drained, medium‐rich, alkaline soil in full sun.
  • Propagation: Seed, cuttings, division.
  • Notes: There are many annual and perennial salvia. Attractive cultivars are ʹTricolorʹ,
  • ʹPurpureaʹ, ‘Berggarten’ and S. officinalis.

 

Thyme, Thymus vulgaris

  • Description: Hardy perennial; height 8‐12ʹʹ. Small green ovate to elliptic leaves, light pink flowers. Mature plant is shrub‐like with woody stems.
  • Culture: Light, well‐drained alkaline soil in full sun. Raised beds are advantageous.
  • Propagation: Seed, cuttings.
  • Notes: There are many other varieties of thyme, including lemon‐scented, creeping groundcovers and those with variegated foliage. Some are tender perennials.

 

Theresa Mieseler
7815 Highway 212, Chaska, Minnesota 55318
952.466.3391, www.shadyacres.com, [email protected]