These herbs can be tricky in the ground, but pot them up and watch them thrive.
- Lemon thyme. Lemon thyme is best grown from plants, not seeds, and should overwinter outdoors. The following spring, prune back to new growth. Trim plants over the growing season by cutting back stems. Lemon thyme will flower nicely if you let it, but cut back stems and fertilize afterward.
- In late spring, when temperatures warm, sow seeds outdoors directly in containers in two batches about a week apart. Don’t fertilize, and add a couple handfuls of perlite to the growing medium to reduce nutrients so that plants produce more flowers than leaves.
- Melissa officinalis. Sow seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost, lightly covering them with soil. Plant out seedlings in late spring. Cut back plants throughout the growing season to keep them bushy with fresh foliage. By the end of the season, lemon balm will have developed woody stems and can overwinter in pots.
- ‘Genovese’ basil. Sow seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last frost. Keep plants indoors until temperatures reach between 60°F and 70°F. In hot weather, basil will take off and want to flower, leading to sparse foliage. Keep plants bushy and encourage fresh leaf production by cutting back stems.
- Pineapple mint. Pineapple mint is best grown from plants, not seeds, but it can easily be propagated using cuttings. To ensure a fresh supply of plants the following season, replant a few rooted clumps in a cold frame.
- ‘Forest Green’ parsley. Start seeds indoors by soaking them in warm water for 48 hours, 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. Change the water once, and rinse seeds before planting them. Once planted, cover them with soil and exclude light. Late-sown seeds will provide less mature plants for overwintering indoors, but expect them to lose vigor and need replacing the following season.