Herbs grow well in Oklahoma – Shawnee News-Star

Pat Neasbitt
Master Gardener

Last week we talked about different herbs, how to grow them, and how to store them. This week, I want to tell you about a few herbs that grow well in Oklahoma. Since most of them come from Mediterranean regions, they like lots of sun and really good drainage. We have plenty of sun, and raised beds and container plantings are perfect for drainage if you are not blessed with nice sandy loam soil, and most of us are not. If herbs are watered and fertilized too much, they will become too big and floppy. The following herbs are easy to grow and will thrive in Oklahoma with very little attention: Basil is one of the easiest of all herbs to grow.

In addition to the standard green forms, there is a purple-leafed basil and lemon-scented basil. Basil is quite tender so at the first sign of frost you can expect to lose it, but I always have plenty that reseeds for the next year.

Catnip has silvery gray leaves and beautiful purple flowers all summer long.

If you don’t do well with lavender, catnip is a great substitute. It looks great under roses as a ground cover if you use the lower-growing types. It is supposed to make cats go nuts over it, but mine never paid any attention to it at all, and it does not attract neighborhood cats. Mints come in many flavors. Spearmint is one of the most popular and the easiest to grow. There’s peppermint, pineapple mint, apple mint, and orange mint that is so vigorous it can quickly become a weed. All mints appreciate moisture and do their best where they get afternoon shade. A good place to plant spearmint is at the base of a downspout in a bed all by itself where it can’t escape.

Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and can get out of control quickly just like mint. It is easy to grow in containers and makes an attractive display.

The leaves have a strong lemon odor and flavor and are good for tea, or they can be used to flavor regular teas.

Rosemary comes in many forms from a bush that grows up to four feet tall to a low-growing groundcover variety. The shrub form can be kept sheared into a tree shape that is attractive all year.

Basil comes in many varieties and flavors. The most common is Sweet Green Basil. More unusual varieties are Lemon, Cinnamon, Licorice, Globe, Purple Ruffled, Japanese Sawtooth, Holy, Cuban, and Thai.

Chives are the smallest member of the onion family and have a milder flavor.

Chives are easily grown from seed or transplants.

Use any way you would onions. They are a perfect topping with sour cream for baked potatoes. Add chives to cottage cheese, omelets, sauces, and garnish for almost any dish.

Dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed.

Once you have it, you won’t need to plant new seeds.

You may have to pull up some plants because it reseeds so easily. That’s a good thing because there will be enough for you to use and enough left for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, Oklahoma’s state butterfly, to lay eggs on for their caterpillars to eat.

Parsley Parsley comes in two forms, the flat-leaved or Italian parsley, and the curled or French parsley. Parsley is also a biennial, producing leaves the first year and flowers the second.

Italian flat leaf parsley is the best to cook with and grows well in partial shade with plenty of moisture. It is easy to find plants in nurseries in the spring.

You can have a dedicated herb garden, plant herb plants with annuals and perennials, or grow them in containers on the porch or patio near the kitchen door where they are handy to harvest. Even if you don’t actually use herbs for cooking or making tea, they are beautiful edible ornamental plants. Happy herb gardening.


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