Annual and Perennial Herbs for Your Garden

Basil plant
Basil is an annual herb that lasts one year.

When planning your herb garden, it’s important to keep in mind the growth habits of each plant. Some herbs are annuals, some are perennials, and some form small evergreen shrubs.

Here’s a guide to some popular herbs for kitchen gardens:

Annual Herbs

Annual herbs live for only one year. They can be cut and enjoyed all summer, but since they’ll be killed by cold weather, they should be harvested before the first frost. Some annual herbs, such as dill, can self-seed if you allow it to bloom near the end of summer.

Italian parsley plant
Italian parsley

Annual herbs include:

  • Basil
  • Chervil
  • Cilantro/Coriander
  • Dill
  • German Chamomile
  • Summer Savory
  • Parsley (lives two years, but is usually grown as an annual for best flavor)

Perennial Herbs

Perennial herbs live for two or more years, often growing and spreading each year. These herbs will die back to the ground in winter and sprout anew in spring. Winter hardiness varies with different types of herbs, so be sure to check your hardiness zone before planting.

If a perennial herb isn’t winter hardy in your area, you can still grow it in pots that you bring indoors in the fall, or just treat it like an annual and replant next spring.

Perennial herbs include:

  • Caraway (blooms in second year)
  • Catnip
  • Chicory
  • Chives
  • Chives plant
    Chives
  • Echinacea
  • Fennel
  • Feverfew
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Grass
  • Lovage
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon
  • Winter Savory

Evergreen Perennial Herbs

These hardy perennial herbs form woody, shrubby stems and stay green all winter, so they’re great for incorporating into your permanent landscape design.

Oregano plant
Oregano

Evergreen perennial herbs include:

  • Bay
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Further Information

11 COMMENTS

  1. My Mom and I are starting a herb and green tea farm in Valley Center, CA. This is our first year here, and is a trial and error for us trying to get used to the climate, water availability, and which plants do well. My Mother and Grandmother (passed away) are fond of gardening and herbs. Green tea is my idea and I have a great passion for this. For me learning about herbs is a new thing. So, websites like this is my start and hopefully will develop myself as a competent gardener!!

  2. Shirley Stivers, I plant mine in a pot and bring it in for the winter. I have had the same plant for maybe 3 -4 years ans it does very well. In the winter I water about once a week. Good luck with that.

  3. I live in the Bronx and my gardening is done from containers on my fire escape. my lemon thyme seems to make it for only a couple of months and once I begin pruning, it dies out and never returns. I get eight hours of great sunlight. I let mother nature water my plant. now and again I have to go in and water myself. I think I’m doing everything right but it never seems to work out for me. What am I doing wrong? Oh, and I use miracle-gro fertilizer every two weeks. help!

  4. I have two oregano plants , one plant has pink flowers the other oregano plant has white flowers
    The oregano plant with white flowers has very tough thicker leaves
    The oregano plant with the pink flowers has smaller smooth leaves
    Can you tell me. What is the difference between these two different plants
    Also are they both perinnal ?

  5. Grow rosemary in a pot and bring it in for winter. Certain varieties do better in winter so look around for varieties of rosemary. Thyme, same thing l I had a thyme plant that came back 3 years in a row until it got too large for my giant planter and I had to pull it up as it did not come back the 4th year.

  6. I’ve noticed that Sage is not on any of your lists. It is a fabulous addition to your herb garden. I live in the SF Bay Area and it grows as an evergreen herb here, I don’t know about colder climates. I use it fresh but I also dry leaves.

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