Perennial herbs are easy to grow and will enhance your garden, and your cooking, year after year. They are easy to grow and need very little looking after and can be grown in beds and borders, or in containers on a patio or balcony.
Giving herbs the right growing conditions helps to ensure they have the best flavour. Plant them in full sun, if possible – this will bring the essential oils to the surface of the leaf, giving a strong flavour. Mint, rosemary and chives will tolerate some shade, but if grown in damp, cold soil, they may suffer over winter.
To keep perennial herbs healthy and productive, pick them regularly. All of the herbs featured here also have edible flowers, so pick those too and enjoy them with salads, in drinks and as a garnish. Once they have finished flowering, cut them back. Cutting back evergreen herbs, like rosemary, helps prevent them becoming woody. Discover more about keeping herbs productive.
Herbaceous herbs, such as mint, which die back over winter then regrow in spring, should be cut back to about 4cm above the soil after flowering. You will then get a second crop of fresh new leaves through to the first frosts.
Discover how to get the best from six perennial herbs.
Mint grows best when it is left to spread naturally. It can be invasive, however, so if this is likely to be an issue, grow it in pots. Growing it in full sun will give it the best flavour, although it will also grow in partial shade. Pick the leaves before flowering or after the plant has been cut back in summer.
Evergreen rosemary can be harvested throughout the year. The flowers are also edible, with a light rosemary flavour – delicious in rice dishes. Grow in a warm, sunny site in well drained soil. It will also grow well in a container – use a soil-based compost and pot up annually in the autumn.
The leaves of culinary sage can also be used all year. The flowers are edible and can be scattered in salads or fruit puddings. Sage leaves can be preserved in oil and butter. Plant in a warm, sunny site in well-drained soil. Sage also grows well in a container – use soil-based compost.
Thyme is evergreen and can be used all year round. It makes lovely oils and butters. Plant in a well drained soil in a sunny spot. Thymes do not like wet winters or sitting in water, so make sure that the soil has adequate drainage. To grow in containers, use a soil-based compost mixed with horticultural grit.
Cut fresh leaves throughout the growing season, and scatter the pretty flowers over salads – they have a mild onion flavour. Preserve the chopped leaves in butter or freeze in ice cube trays without water. Plant in a well-drained, fertile soil in a sunny position and keep well watered throughout the growing season.
Oregano / marjoram
The leaves can be picked nearly all year. Oregano originated in the Mediterranean, so plant in a well-drained soil in a sunny position. It will grow happily in a container, using a soil-based compost that has been mixed with a handful of horticultural grit. Preserve it in butters, oils, or dry some sprigs.