Tips for Growing Herbs on the Gulf Coast

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by Rain Keane

• The warm season is the time to plant annual and tropical herbs. Basil is the number 1 herb of summer. Warm temperatures and plenty of root room are a must because basil is a root­hog. Tropical herbs like lemon verbena, pineapple sage, gingers, Cuban oregano and lemongrass are the same, with the benefit of being savable from year to year if given some protection in the winter.

• Accept that a few herbs like French tarragon, narrow­leafed culinary sages and young, newly planted thymes will do poorly in the hot months. Texas tarragon and Berggarten sage are excellent heat-tolerant varieties for the Gulf Coast. 

• Fall is the best time to start dill and cilantro and plan to replant them often. These particular herbs go to seed as soon as they are mature. Dill and cilantro have both leaves and seeds that are delicious, and their seeds can be saved from year to year. Cilantro seeds are a spice commonly called coriander.

• Plant your perennial and biennial herbs in the fall or early winter for the best results—especially parsley, thyme and lavender.  

 Rain Keane is the owner of Good Scents Herbs and Flowers in Robertsdale, AL. Connect at Rain.Keane@yahoo.com.