These Are the Easiest Herbs to Grow for the Perfect Culinary Garden

updated May 28, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Planting Spring Herbs Into Terracotta Pots
Credit: kkgas/Stocksy

Green thumb or not, having an herb garden is a guaranteed way to saturate your dishes with flavor, open doors for more DIYs, and make your home feel a little livelier. While other plants in your apartment or home provide air filtration and something pretty to look at, growing herbs gives you something a little bit closer to instant gratification. You won’t be able to help feeling a little bit proud each time you harvest a few leaves for a new bake, DIY bath soak, or freshly brewed tea.

If you don’t resonate with the title “green thumb,” it’s likely that you’ve avoided houseplants and herbs. Thankfully, there is a large list of low maintenance and very user-friendly herbs that don’t require master gardener knowledge to grow and keep healthy—yes, you can keep something alive! By following the tips below, you’ll be able to jump start your herb garden (note: the timing for planting your herbs only matters if you’re going planting outside. If you’re doing this indoors, plant away any time of year). So, whether you decide on an indoor vertical garden to start cultivating your herbs or a setup on your balcony or patio, you won’t regret adding these easygoing plants to your inventory. 

Credit: Kristin Prough

Rosemary

  • Signature characteristic: Green, pine needle-shaped leaves
  • Best for: A wide variety of environments
  • When to plant: Spring or fall if you live somewhere warmer
  • How to maintain: Rosemary needs loamy soil that drains well, plenty of sunlight, and even waterings. Be mindful of overwatering and make sure to prune your plant to keep it from getting unruly, especially if you’re keeping this herb indoors.
  • Harvesting: Harvest the younger leaves for the freshest taste and according to The Farmer’s Almanac, you can snip up to ⅓ of the entire plant in one harvest without harming it.  
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Thyme

  • Signature characteristic: Clusters of small rounded leaves
  • Best for: Hotter, drier environments
  • When to plant: A couple of weeks before the last spring frost (keep your eye on the weather!)
  • How to maintain: Thyme is a low-key plant that doesn’t need much attention. It appreciates full sun and drier soil that drains, so be mindful not to overwater. It does well with a little organic matter or fertilizer, but other than that it’s an independent plant that can handle much of what the elements throw at it.
  • Harvesting: It’s best to harvest thyme later in the day when it’s more dried out. Snip off a few inches from the top right before the flower blooms for optimal flavor and scent.
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Sage 

  • Signature characteristic: Long oblong, pale green leaves
  • Best for: Sunnier, drier climates
  • When to plant: A week or two before the last frost of spring
  • How to maintain: Sandy, loamy soil that drains well suits sage perfectly. It likes bright light and can handle drought better than overwatering, so be sure to check the soil is dry before giving it its next drink.
  • Harvesting: You can chop off several stems or leaves at a time, which you can use fresh or dry for later. It’s recommended not to take too much in one go so your plant has a chance to regenerate.
Credit: Amelia Lawrence/Apartment Therapy

Lemon Balm

  • Signature characteristic: Bright green leaves with scalloped edges, looks similar to mint (they’re from the same family)
  • Best for: Shady outdoor environments that don’t get too chilly
  • When to plant: Spring
  • How to maintain: Lemon balm likes partial light and well-draining soil. Too much sun can hurt it when it’s grown outdoors (which is often recommended), but if you choose to grow it inside, more sunlight is okay. Similarly to sage, it can handle underwatering better than too much moisture. 
  • Harvesting: Once the plant starts to grow and has several stalks and leaves you can harvest by pinching off the leaves you need or a few stems at a time. Be sure to not to harvest the entire plant in one go, though. 
Credit: lissart/Getty Images

Parsley

  • Signature characteristic: Looks very similar to cilantro but leaves have pointed edges
  • Best for: Cooler, sunny areas
  • When to plant: Two to three months before spring’s last frost
  • How to maintain: Parsley loves sun but cooler temps work perfectly fine since they don’t fare well with constant dry heat. Rich loamy soil is your best bet, and you can really tickle its fancy by supplementing it with fertilizer or organic compost. Parsley likes soil that’s moist, so keep on top of watering it.
  • Harvesting: Cut at the base of the plant and choose stems that are four to five inches tall rather than the newer sprouts. It’s better to collect the full stalk rather than just the leaves. 
Credit: Floydine/Shutterstock

Chives

  • Signature characteristic: Tall and thin tubular blades and puffy purple blossoms
  • Best for: Most climates and environments
  • When to plant: Four to six weeks before the last frost
  • How to maintain: Chives enjoy full sun and fertile soil that drains well. They’re a rather hardy plant though and can handle most climates. It likes moist soil as long as it’s not sitting in water.
  • Harvesting: One of the best things about this herb is that you can eat every part of it!
Credit: almaje/Shutterstock

Mint

  • Signature characteristic: Scaly bright green leaves with jagged edges
  • Best for: Contained, light-filled environments
  • When to plant: Spring
  • How to maintain: Mint will do best with rich, moist soil that drains well and partial to full sun. It’s a tough plant that can handle a bit of forgetfulness or damage from the elements.
  • Harvesting: Trim off sprigs of the plant before it flowers to get the best taste and encourage regrowth.
Credit: Kristin Prough

Oregano

  • Signature characteristic: Clusters of bright green circular leaves
  • Best for: Warmer environments
  • When to plant: Spring, after the last frost
  • How to maintain: Bright indirect sunlight will do your oregano good. It needs soil that drains well and fast, and it’s important not to overwater it. A fertilizer every now and then never hurts, either.
  • Harvesting: Once your plant has grown to be four inches or taller, you can harvest whole stems of oregano, which is better than just picking off the leaves.
Credit: Westend61 - WEP/Getty Images

Tarragon

  • Signature characteristic: Long and thin green leaves
  • Best for: Areas that get lots of sunshine
  • When to plant: Early spring
  • How to maintain: Full sun and fresh air will help tarragon thrive. Rich, moist soil is also ideal for its growth and happiness.
  • Harvesting: Trim off the top younger leaves of tarragon. Its older stems will keep the growth going. 
Credit: grandriver/Getty Images

Cilantro

  • Signature characteristic: Looks very similar to parsley, but leaves have more rounded edges
  • Best for: Humid climates with sun, but not overbearing heat
  • When to plant: Early fall
  • How to maintain: Cilantro prefers rich, loamy soil that stays moist, but not too wet. It can handle full sun, but partial is usually best since it can easily wilt and go to seed if it gets too warm.
  • Harvesting: When the plant reaches five inches or so, you can pick it. Trim close to the soil and don’t cut all the leaves off at once as this can prevent it from growing tasty leaves again.
(Image credit: Stocksy)