Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Top North Texas-Friendly Herbs

For those new to organic gardening, one of the easiest ways to get started is to grow a few favorite herbs. One of the reasons herbs are easy to grow is because their aromatic and medicinal qualities ward off pests and diseases. Here are a few of the most popular choices.

Basil: There are many different kinds of basil, but most people prefer the Genovese or sweet varieties. These are the ones most commonly used in Italian cooking. Loved by both honeybees and native bees, basil thrives in the warm North Texas weather. Basil must be continually pinched back to keep it from flowering. Among other medicinal uses, basil will relieve canker sores. Mix some dried basil and salt in water and use it as a gargle or make a tea out of it.

Lavender: The scent of lavender not only makes a sweet perfume, but also reduces stress. Place a lavender sachet in a drawer to repels pests such as moths and mosquitoes. Lavender is a perennial and can get to be quite large in the landscape (approximately three feet wide by three feet high). Its spikes of purple flowers attract a wide array of Texas native pollinators.

Mint: This hardy perennial comes in myriad flavors, from orange, chocolate, pineapple and ginger to apple, spearmint, banana and mojito. Its vigorous, vining growth habit means it can become invasive, but is also what makes it a great “spiller” plant in a container or a ground cover in the landscape. Dress up a summertime cocktail with a sprig of mint.

Oregano: Another popular Italian seasoning, oregano is also a perennial that blends well into the landscape. A relative of mint, it also makes a great “spiller” plant, is packed with antioxidants and also has antibacterial properties. The best time to harvest oregano is in mid-summer, when it reaches its peak flavor.

Parsley: Parsley is a vital pollinator plant for black swallowtail butterflies. As their eggs hatch, the larvae feast on the foliage until they are ready to pupate into adults. As a biennial, parsley does not flower until the second year, after which it will die and need to be replanted. Small and compact, it makes an excellent green border plant in the landscape. Beyond its popularity as a garnish, parsley is nutrient-dense and offers many health benefits. It is antioxidant-rich and loaded with vitamin K for bone health, plus it makes a great breath freshener and digestive aid.

Culinary Sage: Culinary sage, or common garden sage, is another beautiful, aromatic perennial herb that has many culinary uses. Also a relative of mint, it is a low-growing perennial with large, elongated leaves that have a soft, fuzzy feel. Depending on the variety, it has grayish-green, golden or even variegated varieties. It grows equally well in a container or as a border plant in the landscape. Like many herbs, it is grown for the foliage and will lose its flavor if allowed to flower. Sage is believed to help reduce dental plaque and can help relieve the symptoms of menopause.

Cilantro: Cilantro is a finicky plant. It is hard to grow outdoors due to our relatively short spring and fall seasons. It grows best when temperatures are in the mid-70s and will bolt (flower) at the first sign of warmer weather, which ruins the flavor. However, it can be grown indoors in a sunny room where it gets plenty of bright but indirect light. Unlike many herbs, cilantro leaves cannot be dried and must be eaten fresh. After flowering, the seeds (called coriander) can be harvested and used as a seasoning.

Joyce A. Connelley is vice president of marketing for Marshall Grain Company. For more information, call 817-416-6600 or visit