Herbs in Arizona? - Knowledgebase Question

Mesa, AZ
Question by caryandtim
July 28, 2005
I live in Arizona...it's HOT! But I have the desire to start an Herb garden. Is it possible to do that in AZ? Should I have them outside in complete shade? Or inside only in the summer and then out in the fall and spring? I would likely grow mainly Rosemary, Basil and maybe a few others. Should I start from seed, or find them already started? OR - Is this simply the wrong time of year for me to think about growing herbs in Arizona??? Also, is it true that planing marigolds around the parimeter of herbs will keep bugs away?
Well, that's about it! Thanks for your input!!!


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Answer from NGA
July 28, 2005

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Herbs do extremely well in Arizona. Almost every type of herb will grow here, but you need to know when to plant them. We have two growing seasons, a cool and a warm season, when different herbs (as well as veggies and flowers) thrive. I suggest preparing your soil by adding lots of compost and just get it ready for the cool planting season, which starts around late September or so with plants growing through April/May. The warm season planting starts in Feb/March and plants go until the heat, or some go through the summer. Now is not a good time to plant as the heat is just too stressful for plants to establish. Herbs take full sun here. Many herbs are native to the Mediterranean, which has hot, sunny, dry conditions as well. If you've never gardened before, you might want to start with 4-inch transplants and try some seeds. Cilantro, parsley and dill germinate easily. They are all cool-season herbs. A good reference book that contains planting calendars for the low desert is called "Desert Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs in an Arid Climate." ISBN 0-9651987-2-3. The Arizona Herb Association is a great group of gardeners who love sharing their expertise. They also sell herb plants and seeds at their meetings. www.azherb.org

Many people believe marigolds keep away bugs, but to my knowledge there isn't any research that proves it. We don't have many insect pest problems here anyway.

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