The hunger for fresh herbs in spring once was so strong that people ate even toxic or stinging plants—such as poke, marsh marigold, and nettles—boiling off the bad stuff before consuming them! Now that we have herbs available year-round, those cravings aren’t quite as strong. But who doesn’t look forward to the zingy flavor of the first herbs of the spring season?
If you want perennial, biennial, or hardy annual herbs that will spring up early and hold strong to late frosts and flurries, choose the toughest types. Chives, sweet woodruff, and macho mints such as Mojito Mint and Chocolate Mint should be able to take whatever the weather throws at them in spring.
Most can grow in either sun or partial shade, with sweet woodruff requiring the latter, and rather enjoys the often damp soil of the season. You’ll want to confine the invasive roots of mints, though, to avoid their spreading into your other herbs’ personal space.
Greek Oregano will often “awake” early, though they prefer full sun and less moisture.
More woody Mediterranean herbs—such as lavender, rosemary, sage, and thyme—may wait until the weather warms to kick off new growth. Since they originated in hot, dry climates, they sometimes can be killed or stunted by sodden soil even in zones where they are supposed to be hardy. You can provide them with better drainage by placing them in an elevated position, such as in a raised bed or berm. They grow best in full sun with complete air circulation in sandy soil that drains completely. Southern facing hillsides are perfect for them.
Arp Rosemary, Sage and Munstead Lavender are hardy for most areas. This doesn’t mean you should avoid growing more tender herbs such as bay laurel or lemon grass. These hot climate herbs can be grown in pots and kept outdoors during summer and taken back inside in early fall before frost.
These are the best herbs to grow in spring to add wonderful flavors to your culinary dishes, teas, baking, potpourris and small indoor bouquets.
Check out more herb plants to buy at our online garden store!