The Top 25 Herbs, Selected by ATP Members

Welcome to the Member Ideas area! This community feature is where our members can post their own ideas. These posts are unedited and not necessarily endorsed by the National Gardening Association.
Posted by @dave on
Let's open Herbs week with a look at the most popular herbs, as determined by the number of individuals who have posted comments and photos to the herb entries in our database.

Uploaded by bonitin
#1: Borage (Borago officinalis)

@Mindy03 says, "Valuable source of nectar and pollen for honey bees. Honey produced from this nectar is light amber in color."

@Ispahan added, "One of my favorite plants to grow for bees and other pollinators. I love the fuzzy foliage and intense blue of the flowers. I hope this plant reseeds for years to come."
Uploaded by tabby
#2: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

@Calif_Sue says, "A lovely herb that is also a valuable source of color in the flower bed or in a potted combination. It blooms from early to late summer. If you are growing them for food rather than for decoration, snip the flowers before they bloom as they will grow thicker if they’re picked often."
Uploaded by Shannon
#3: Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

@wildflowers says, "Grows to 24” high. Perennial herb, comes back from roots in spring here in 7b. Vigorous grower with crinkles, dull green leaves with white blossoms.
Prefers full sun. Harvest mature leaves for teas, soups, meats, fish, summer drinks. Lemon balm has citronella compounds that make this a good bug deterrent. Crush leaves on your skin to keep mosquitoes away and sprinkle throughout the garden in an herbal powder mixture to deter many bugs. Plant to ward off squash bugs.

Lemon Balm is anti-viral, so the tea is great to drink if you’re feeling under the weather. The hot tea brings on a sweat-good for relieving colds, flus and fevers. An anti-viral agent has been found that combats mumps, cold sores and other viruses and might also help with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and shingles, due to the anti-viral action. It has medicinal qualities as a tranquilizer and, calms a nervous stomach, colic, or heart spasms. The leaves are reputed to also lower blood pressure. It is very gentle, although effective, so is often suggested for children and babies."
Uploaded by eclayne
#4: Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

@gardengus says, "Garlic chives are a great addition to the culinary garden. I use them in much the same way as regular chives, to flavor dips and sauces and over baked potatoes. Great addition to stir-fry also.
Good dried, but loses much of its flavor and is best kept frozen when not fresh.
Easy to grow from seed and should be deadheaded before setting seed because they can take over. The white flower blooms late in the summer and is pretty enough to include in the showy category.
The flowers are very attractive to insects, and I see a lot of predator wasps on the blooms."
Uploaded by bonitin
#5: Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

@Sharon says, "This plant has been used historically both medicinally and as a food. Today chicory, both wild and cultivated, is used primarily as food. Young chicory leaves can be gathered in spring for a salad; older leaves can be cooked in soups, but they have a slightly bitter taste. The dried, roasted, and ground root is often blended with coffee; it gives the brew a pleasantly bitter taste while reducing it as a stimulant, since chicory has no caffeine.

At one time it was used when coffee was not available."
Uploaded by Calif_Sue
#6: Nasturtiums

@LindaTX8 says, "If I want Nasturtiums, I have to get them going early, often I start them in pots to get an earlier start! With the extreme heat and intense sunlight (often all-day long) of my area, Nasturtiums have difficulty continuing once the HOT part of the years starts. They usually tend to go away in summer. But I do love these plants, so I keep trying. Love those cute leaves and flowers! I just love to look at them! I do occasionally eat the flowers, but it's hard, because usually I just want to keep the flowers around to look at!"
Uploaded by duane456
#7: Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee')

@Skiekitty says, "Bought this plant about 5 years ago and planted it in an area that gets morning/noon sun. It was an absolutely beautiful golden color the first year. The following year, and every year thereafter, the leaves were the dark color seen in my photos. Not at all golden. Blooms the same color as always, however. Tolerates poor soil and my zone 5 winter well."
Uploaded by larryr
#8: Anise Hyssop (Agastache 'Blue Fortune')

@Newyorkrita says, "In my opinion the best of the blue Hyssops. Blooms on mine were always covered in yellow swallowtail butterflies. Long spikes of masses of tiny blue flowers appear to be one giant fuzzy bloom. Starts blooming in July. Unfortunately the one large plant I had for many years died out over one winter and I have never gotten around to replacing it.

Uploaded by gardengus
#9: Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

@gardengus says, "When planting fennel, keep it far from your dill. These two will cross pollinate.
The dill seed will not produce a true-tasting dill plant. Best to buy fresh seed."

@Sharon added, "Fennel is a food plant for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, in this zone it is the Swallowtail. It also provides a faint licorice flavor and is especially good as a seasoning for baked fish."
Uploaded by bonitin
#10: Flanders Field Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

@LarryR says, "This poppy pairs nicely with Orlaya grandiflora."

@bennysplace added, "From childhood to today, I always wear my little plastic poppy on Memorial Day. Since becoming a gardener, I make it a point to always grow this poppy. They are magical and a sheer delight as they sway in the breeze. As many have already said, this is a must-have in every garden."
Uploaded by SongofJoy
#11: Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

@SongofJoy says, "Russian Sage, the Perennial Plant Association's 1995 Perennial of the Year, is a semi-woody perennial that provides color, fragrance, and texture all summer. Plants grow to 4 feet and are covered with very pungent (when bruised) gray-green leaves. Flowering starts in mid to late summer and persists on into fall. The flowers themselves are small tubular and purple but the effect is of a powdery purple airy haze. Full sun and good drainage are keys to survival. Wet feet during the winter not appreciated. These plants also benefit from a late spring pruning down to several pairs of buds."
Uploaded by Hemlady
#12: Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

@SongofJoy says, "Nepetalactone, the oil in Catnip, is a mosquito, fly, roach, and termite repellant."

@LindaTX8 added, "Well...this species is a favorite of cats! They love it fresh or dry! Plants must be protected or the cats will 'love it to death'!"
Uploaded by gingin
#13: Sweet Violet (Viola odorata)

@Sharon says, "This little plant grows wild in yards in western Kentucky. A lot of people consider them invasive. I like them because they are a sure sign of spring. I also like them because they often will grow as ground cover where nothing else grows.

Viola odorata is a species of the genus Viola and is native to Europe and Asia. In India it is commonly used as a remedy to cure sore throat and tonsilitis. Some of our Native Americans used it in the same way medicinally. The sweet scent of this flower has proved popular to many generations particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances and perfumes. The French are also known for their violet syrup, most commonly made from an extract of violets. In the United States, this French violet syrup is used to make violet scones and marshmallows. (Wiki)"
Uploaded by Moby
#14: Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)

@RickCorey says, "Leaves fragrant, used to make tea or jelly. Edible flowers attract bees & butterflies.
Semi-erect growth habit. Bag seed heads to collect seed. Seed doesn't store well.
Provenance: Mexico. Older name: S. rutilans. Family: Lamiaceae.
Grows as annual in Zone 6.
Other propagation method: softwood cuttings.
Height 36" to 48", prefers full sun.
Spacing: 24" to 36""
Uploaded by Paul2032
#15: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

@plantladylin says, "The common Dandelion is a recognizable perennial found in most temperate areas of the world. Considered a weed by most, it grows in lawns, along roadsides and ditches, and in other areas with moist soil. The plant grows from a basal rosette with deeply lobed leaves. The solitary yellow flowers are borne at the ends of 2" to 6" erect unbranched stems. The seed heads look like white puffballs."
Uploaded by Paul2032
#16: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

@sheryl says, "Native to the Mediterranean. Loves sunshine and warmth, although some cold hardy strains (Arp, to zone 6) have been cultivated. Quite xeric.

One of my favorite plants. If I brush up against it while gardening I can smell the scent for hours on my clothing. One of my favorite herbs to cook with -sprinkle rosemary, garlic and salt on a lightly oiled salmon fillet - heaven!"
Uploaded by bonitin
#17: Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

@CarolineScott says, "Clary Sage has colored bracts.
The color is not actually flowers."

@Marilyn added, ""Salvia sclarea reaches 3 to 4 ft (0.91 to 1.2 m) in height, with thick square stems that are covered in hairs. The leaves are approximately 1 ft (0.30 m) long at the base, .5 ft (0.15 m) long higher on the plant. The upper leaf surface is rugose, and covered with glandular hairs. The flowers are in verticils, with 2-6 flowers in each verticil, and are held in large colorful bracts that range in color from pale mauve to lilac or white to pink with a pink mark on the edge. The lilac or pale blue corolla is approximately 1 in (2.5 cm), with the lips held wide open. The cultivar S. sclarea 'Turkestanica' bears pink stems, petiolate leaves, and white, pink-flecked blossoms on spikes to 30 inches tall (75 cm).

Clary seeds have a mucilaginous coat, which is why some old herbals recommended placing a seed into the eye of someone with a foreign object in it so that it could adhere to the object and make it easy to remove. This practice is noted by Nicholas Culpeper in his Complete Herbal (1653), who referred to the plant as "clear-eye".

The distilled essential oil is used widely in perfumes and as a muscatel flavoring for vermouths, wines, and liqueurs. It is also used in aromatherapy for relieving anxiety and fear, menstrual-related problems such as PMS and cramping, and helping with insomnia."

Taken from wikipedia's page at:
Uploaded by Trish
#18: Sage (Salvia officinalis)

@Mindy03 says, "Honey bees get nectar and pollen from this plant."

@gardengus added, "This semi-woody subshrub is an easy-to-grow evergreen perennial herb that is used in many recipes.
It is also added to some medicinal teas.
It is easy to dry and store for winter use. Simply pick the leaves or cut whole branch tips and hang to dry.
For tea, just hand crush the dry leaves and add a small amount to loose-leaf teas before steeping. (This is a strong herb and a little will add much flavor.)
For seasoning in cooking, remove stems and crush leaves in a mortar and pestle. This is called ''rubbed sage.'' Leaves must be completely dry to use this method.

I use most of my sage to season fresh sausage and homemade bread stuffing."
Uploaded by Zencat
#19: Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

@dave says, "Considered by most to be an annual, this is really a very short lived herbaceous tender perennial. It is easily grown in nearly any environment and loves full sun locations. It's a valuable food source for many butterflies.

Best of all, pot marigolds are edible! The florets are wonderful in salads and as a side to brighten up any dish."
Uploaded by okus
#20: English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

@okus says, "In the summer this bushy plant is covered in blossom and each flower stalk attracts many bees and butterflies.

If you love butterflies and honey, plant English lavender! It is easy to grow, drought tolerant, and not picky about its soils. My soil is very light and stony and retains virtually no moisture, but my lavender is abundant."
Uploaded by Jenn
#21: Lemon Bee Balm (Monarda citriodora)

@SongofJoy says, "Lemon Bee Balm can be made into soap and contains natural ingredients to soothe burns and stings."

@imabirdnut added, "This plant is a native wildflower here in North Texas and is a great nectar plant for many insects!"
Uploaded by dave
#22: Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

@gardengus says, "This herb has its best flavor fresh, but it has a tendency to bolt (set seed) quickly .
You can tell when it is going to bolt. The new leaves are very fine.

Cut the plant and refrigerate, putting the stems in water and loosely covering the top (greens) with a plastic bag.
I have been able to keep it fresh about 4 weeks this way.

It can also be cleaned and frozen whole. Chop before thawing and add to your recipe."
Uploaded by SongofJoy
#23: Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)

@GordonHawk says, "My MY... bleeding for sure.. that's a wonderful form of the amaranthus"

@BookerC1 added, "Very dramatic specimen plant! It grows 3-5 feet tall, and produces long, drooping tassel-like flowers that will sometimes extend from the very top of the plant to the ground. Easy to grow from seed if you sow it in place, and drought tolerant. This one will be a conversation-starter, so plant it somewhere conspicuous!"
Uploaded by rcn48
#24: Ginger Root (Asarum canadense)

@jmorth says, "The 1 inch (across) flower lacks petals; has 3 pointed sepals that curve backwards.
Wild ginger likes moist woods where, as likely as not, it forms dense, sometimes huge, colonies.
Settlers used root as spice substitute for tropical ginger. Used in frontier medicine to treat various ailments.
Mesquakie Indians used it extensively as a seasoning and thought its use when eating an animal that died of unknown causes eliminated danger of poisoning therefrom.
Root chewed and spit on bait to improve chance of catching fish."
Uploaded by JonnaSudenius
#25: Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

@Mindy03 says, "Valuable source of nectar and pollen for honey bees."

@Bonehead added, "Can spread rather aggressively unless held in bounds."

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Interesting results by Bonehead Apr 2, 2015 4:27 PM 6

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