An herb is any plant with leaves, seeds or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine or perfume.
Typically, herbs are plants with leafy parts that are used to
flavor food and drinks. Basil, parsley, thyme and oregano are
common examples of herbs. The flavor and aroma of herbs
varies greatly. Herbs also are used for many other purposes
such as medicines, aromatics and aesthetics. Herbs are a
wonderful addition to the garden because they fill multiple
Herbs are the green fleshy parts of plants. Spices are
everything else, like seeds, barks and stems. Many people use
cilantro (herb) in dishes like tacos and salsas, but they also may
use coriander (spice), which is the seeds of the cilantro plant, to
season other dishes. Fennel bulbs and greens (herbs) are used
to season many food items, while fennel seed (spice) is a main
flavor in Italian sausage. Even though herbs and spices may be
from the same plant, they are different parts of the plant.
Herbs can be grown throughout the year in Louisiana. Some do better in warmer temperatures and others in cooler temperatures.
Herbs like parsley and cilantro thrive in the cooler months but will bolt or slow down significantly in the heat of the summer. Herbs like basil, mints and oregano will flourish during the hotter parts of the year.
Even some of the warm-season herbs still need protection from our hot, humid summers. Lavender and lemon verbena are examples. They like warm weather but when August comes, they do better with a little shade to protect them from the extreme late summer heat.
Many herbs are from the Mediterranean region.
While that area does have warm summers, the
weather there still is not as hot and humid as
here and it doesn’t match the long Louisiana
summers, so you may have to take a few steps to
help them endure the heat.
Warm-season herbs are best planted into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. This typically is mid-March through early August.
Of course, if you are starting the herbs from seed, you can get a jump on the growing season by sowing the seeds up to a month prior to the first planting date. You will need to sow the seeds into seed trays or old, but clean, containers and keep them in a greenhouse, warm windowsill (with plenty of light) or a hot box.
Warm-season herbs that generally grow
well in Louisiana include basil, mint,
lemon verbena, rosemary, sage, thyme,
lavender, catnip and bay laurel.
Cool-season herbs are best planted into the garden between the months of September and February. Most cool-season herbs can tolerate normal winter freezes in Louisiana. Later in the cool season, in March or early April, plant larger transplants, and you could still expect acceptable harvests in May or early June.
Cool-season herbs that generally perform
well in Louisiana include parsley, cilantro,
chamomile, dill, oregano, borage, chives,
garlic, celery, chicory, fennel, arugula and
Some of the perennial herbs that do well
here are mints, lemon verbena, lemon
balm, rosemary, Mexican tarragon, burnet,
sorrel, society garlic, catmint, garlic, chives,
oregano, catmint, anise hyssop, mountain
mint, bay laurel, pineapple sage and rue.
Although most perennial herbs can be
planted throughout the year, perennial
herbs generally are best when planted in
the fall using transplants available at local
nurseries. This allows them to become
well established during the less stressful
cool season. An exception is that Mexican
mint marigold should be planted in May
Thyme, sage, catnip and lavender are
perennial herbs that require excellent
drainage to survive the summer. They
may be more successful when grown in
containers and placed in a location that
gets some shade in the afternoon during
the summer. Even grown under good
conditions they tend to be short-lived and
often succumb to root and stem rots in
the hot, wet conditions of the late summer
Several perennial herbs that have difficulty
surviving our summers are grown here as
cool-season annuals and include French
tarragon, feverfew and chamomile.
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