Perennial Herb Garden vs. Annual Herb Garden

Before planting an herb garden you may find yourself debating whether or not you wish to maintain an annual or perennial herb garden. Each will require work and maintenance however, more importantly, each will contain different species of herbs.

Perennial herbs are characteristically hardy and bushy with an average growth of 10% each year. Fifteen common perennial herbs are (in alphabetical order):

  1. Chives have a taste reminiscent of an onion and are popularly used in cooking.
  2. Cornflower blooms brilliant blue blossoms and may be used for culinary purposes.
  3. Echinacea is a herbaceous plant which produces beautiful cone shaped blossoms.
  4. Fennel is commonly used in Indian cuisine; it has a distinct nasally taste.
  5. Gingko is well known for its ability to treat depression.
  6. Lavender is extremely fragrant and an excellent addition to a potpourri mixture.
  7. Lemon Balm is known for its medicinal and culinary purposes.
  8. Lemongrass is an aromatic herb with a light lemony fragrance.
  9. Marjoram is an herb that is used most often in Italian sauces.
  10. Mint is harvested both for its taste and its fragrance; may be used for culinary purposes.
  11. Oregano is commonly used in Spanish cuisine; it has a distinct bright taste.
  12. Rosemary is an amazing herb that is used to spice up poultry.
  13. Sage is known for its medicinal and culinary uses.
  14. Tarragon adds a delicious pop of flavor when added to any dish.
  15. Thyme is popularly used on poultry and goes well on a thanksgiving turkey.

Annual herbs are characteristically weaker and rely mainly on stem and leaf growth. Ten common annual herbs are (in alphabetical order):

  1. Arugula is often used in salads because of its lettuce-like properties.
  2. Basil is commonly used in Italian cuisine and can be tasted in many pizza sauces.
  3. Borage is used for natural healing and is also observed in culinary dishes.
  4. Cayenne is characterized by its ability to provide a spicy kick when used in cooking.
  5. Chamomile is a soothing herb which appears in numerous teas.
  6. Cilantro has a distinct taste that brightens up any salad or sauce.
  7. Coriander is actually the seed of the cilantro plant and is also considered a herb.
  8. Dill pairs well with salmon and has been used for culinary purposes for centuries.
  9. Garlic is a common herb known for its medicinal and culinary uses.
  10. Parsley has a beautiful fresh taste and is commonly observed as a garnish.

If you wish to have a solely perennial or annual herb garden there are some things to consider. First, decide whether or not you want to spend more time planting or pruning. An annual garden requires you to plant new seeds every year to replenish the crop you harvested the year before. Therefore, you will have to invest money in seeds on a yearly basis and sow them at the appropriate time.

Perennial herbs will require pruning on an annual basis to control growth and maintain health. If you choose to have a perennial herb garden you will need to train the plants to grow in the appropriate space and detour them from spreading and suffocating your other plants. Some perennial herbs like to spread and populate a large area of space which may cause them to take over weaker species if you don’t maintain the plants on a yearly basis.

Every plant requires unique soil and lighting requirements. Regardless of whether or not you choose to plant a annual or perennial herb garden, make sure you plant species that will complement each other and have the same requirements. It is not a bad idea to mix perennial and annual plants; just make sure you understand that the annual herbs must be replanted whereas the perennials should be left to grow.