Texas Gardening forum: Herb Garden Questions

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Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
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TexasPlumeria87
Jan 20, 2013 10:26 AM CST
Hi I really want to start an herb garden this year. I built a small flowerbed and amended the soil with some Black Kow topsoil. The soil has a lot of clay but its almost like loam, there are even pockets of sandy loam in it. The flowerbed gets shade during the morning, and then from 12 to the rest of the afternoon, it gets full sun (its on the west side of my house) I was wondering which herbs could I plant that would tolerate heat and drought. I know some herbs like rosemary and thyme are good for drought but are there anymore? I may start some herbs from seed. Should I wait until Spring or can they be wintersown? Thanks
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jan 20, 2013 6:04 PM CST

Moderator

Cameron, I asked Pod to come over and offer suggestions on growing herbs. I start out with all kinds of herbs in spring, but gradually let them melt in our summer heat. Pod and Linda are both good herb growers.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Jan 20, 2013 6:06 PM CST
HI Cameron... I am curious, are you looking for perennial herbs or annuals? Are you considering herbs as ornamental or will you be using them in cooking or medicinal uses?

Rosemary would be a good choice for a perennial that will endure harsh conditions. Another that likes to be high and dry is lavender. I've never had luck with thyme and thought perhaps it didn't like the heat.

I also have a bay tree in a large container which I use in cooking. Bay could grow a bit large in ground although it might provide some needed shade for your other herbs.

When you mentioned drought tolerant, will you be able to provide water under extreme drought conditions? Even though most herbs don't require rich soil, they do require adequate moisture

Some herbs like cooler weather. Dill, chives and chervil are growing right now for me.

Some herbs will reseed although they are annual. I start most of the annual herbs from seed by wintersowing and then transplanting when the soil has warmed enough.

I'll have to do more thinking on drought tolerant herbs and hope others will weigh in too.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Jan 20, 2013 6:08 PM CST
Aha ~ posted near the same time. LOL Thanks for directing me here although I'm certainly no expert but love experimenting. Unfortunately too true, most herbs melt in the heat, but then I do too!
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jan 20, 2013 6:10 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks, pod! I would starve if I had to eat out of my own garden.
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
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TexasPlumeria87
Jan 20, 2013 6:24 PM CST
Thanks Pod and Sandi. I would love to have perennial herbs though annual herbs would be fine too as long as they can tolerate heat. I also want to use them for both ornamental and cooking use. I love the smell of lavender. I have 'Provence' but it died. Are there other types that can tolerate the humidity? I would definitely be able to water them in extreme conditions if I had to. The flowerbed is probably 3-4' long so its a small area. I have some dill seeds. Is it too late to sow them? Thank again :)
[Last edited by TexasPlumeria87 - Jan 20, 2013 6:33 PM (+)]
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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Jan 20, 2013 6:59 PM CST
I'd start the dill right now. Probably indoors where it will be warmer to germinate, then plant it out. It should provide you with dill foliage and when it gets too hot for it, the plant will bolt and go to seed. Never have figured out how to make dill and cucumbers deliver at the same time. lol

I grew borage last year as a bee attractant and it was lovely but required a bit more water than I could provide. It did last long enough to bloom though. Most herbal plants with larger or lush leaves will demand more moisture. That includes plants like basil and lemon balm.

Not sure how I managed but this was the first year I succeeded in keeping pineapple sage alive through summer and now winter. I did have it in ground but dug it last fall to provide winter protection.

This was also the first year that lavender has not died when it got hot. I have read it needs dry conditions but the roots need to be cooler. If you mulch it with white rock, it will reflect light onto the plant but will also reflect heat away from the soil/roots. Mine has looked a bit ill but is now putting on new growth and that was with minimal watering but we did have lots of humidity last summer.

If you research, you will find some types are better suited to the southern herb garden. I am sorry to say I do not recall which one I grew this year. My favorite herbal reference book is called Southern Herb Gardening. The mother/daughter team that wrote it lived just north of Houston. Let me look and see if they have a recommendation on lavender.

Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jan 20, 2013 8:02 PM CST

Moderator

Pod, that would be Madalene Hill and her daughter, Gwen Barclay. One of the first "jobs" I had in Master Gardeners was to go to an Austin residence and snip herbs to root in the greenhouse to sell at the botanical garden festival. It was hot, and the garden was in full sun. We filled bags and bags with herbs. I remember all the scented geraniums that I just loved. The owner told us all these stories of the two ladies that she volunteered for at Round Top,TX. When we were through taking cuttings of everything she pointed out, she smiled and told us we had just "groomed" her herb beds for her! A couple of years later, Madalene and her daughter came to Austin and spoke to one of the garden clubs I belong to. They were interesting and entertaining! Madalene was clearly the authority on herbs. Gwen would get "cut off" frequently by her mom. I was sorry to hear of her passing in '09 and posted it on another website.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Jan 20, 2013 8:39 PM CST
Yes... I love reading that book which I called by the wrong name above, it should have been Southern Herb Growing ~ another senior moment.
I have also read interviews with Ms Hill in herbal magazines and she was so knowledgeable and entertaining.

I love the scented geraniums but have killed far more than I should have.

Cameron ~ she recommends that English lavender be treated as an annual in the humid south ~ that's me! But she says in Central and North Texas you should be able to grow these successfully. Recommended to "plant in the driest area you have, in full sun, and neglecting them a lot."

Good luck if you try them and please post your success with it.
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
Image
TexasPlumeria87
Jan 21, 2013 5:44 AM CST
Thanks again Kristi. I'll start the dill seeds right now. Thanks for telling me about basil, lemon balm, English lavender, and the book reference. The white rock mulch sounds like a good idea. I'm making a list right now of all the things I will need for the herb garden. That's such a neat experience Sandi, I've never been to a garden club event. There is going to be a garden show in Mckinney in March I think. They have one every year and I end up forgetting the date every time. The new flowerbed is definitely one of the driest areas in my yard, especially during Summer. The water would be completely gone the next day. Some herbs I'll start from seed and others I will just buy starter plants. I'll keep everyone updated on the progress. Thanks again Sandi and Kristi.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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pod
Jan 21, 2013 6:03 AM CST
Good Morning Cameron ~ you might also add more moisture retentive material before you begin to plant that bed. That should help it retain more moisture.

Once planted, you can also mulch the bed surface in order to slow evaporation. That will be more water conservative as well as less work for you in the long run.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jan 21, 2013 9:37 AM CST

Moderator

I hope you'll check out the garden clubs in your area, Cameron. Go to the garden show and you'll see that you most likely already have plants that are "show worthy." I start thinking in February about what I might enter in the June show!

I "googled" Plano garden clubs and came up with a few in your area. Just go as a guest and see which one would be a good fit. Dallas and Arlington both have very active garden clubs....mostly men, too. (I'm grinning as I write because The Garden Club of Austin used to be The Men's Garden Club of Austin until all us women started joining!).
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
Image
TexasPlumeria87
Jan 21, 2013 11:27 AM CST
Good morning Sandi and Kristi. I have a change of plans for the herb garden. I want to make it an herb and flower garden. I planted some purple coneflowers towards the back of the bed and I'm growing some hardy hibiscus from seed and I want to add a couple of those. I also bought a crinum bulb today and I want to add that too lol. I'll get some more composted cow manure to amend the soil more. mulch is definitely a priority for this particular flowerbed. I'll definitely check out the garden clubs in my area. It would be so nice to meet fellow gardeners. Here is the crinum bulb I picked up today. Do you think it would do well in my new flowerbed? Sorry for asking so many questions
Thumb of 2013-01-21/TexasPlumeria87/c0abed
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jan 21, 2013 11:44 AM CST

Moderator

I'm going to let someone with more herb experience answer those questions.

I did want to tell you to check out the co-op forum. ChefMIke has started another co-op. This one's with tropical bulbs. That should go well with your plumeria growing!

By the size of the crinum, that looks like a good buy.
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
Image
TexasPlumeria87
Jan 21, 2013 12:05 PM CST
I saw Mike's co-op for tropical bulbs. I really like the pink crinums he's selling. I was looking for coneflower seeds in Home Depot and that's when I spotted the crinum bulbs. I've never seen HD or Lowes sell crinums. I just had to get one lol
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jan 21, 2013 2:29 PM CST

Moderator

I know. It's an addiction, isn't it? Whistling
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jan 21, 2013 3:39 PM CST

Moderator

I know, its an addiction isn't it?
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
Image
TexasPlumeria87
Jan 21, 2013 6:07 PM CST
I definitely agree lol.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
pod
Jan 21, 2013 7:42 PM CST
Addiction is IS! How large did you say that bed was??? LOL

The coneflowers are actually an herb too. Later in spring, you will find pots of Echinacea or coneflowers for sale at the garden centers. They will bloom more quickly than starting from seed. And, the butterflies will love the coneflower blooms.

Have to admit, I'm a Crinum fan also. Three different ones and all were passalong bulbs. My favorite is a summer bloomer that is ever so fragrant with a white bloom.
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
Image
TexasPlumeria87
Jan 22, 2013 6:11 AM CST
LOL my flowerbed will be a little crowded this Spring. I love coneflowers and I had a few sprout last year but they didn't grow much. I bought a 'white swan' coneflower last Spring but the drought killed it. I'll look for some blooming sized plants once they have some in stock. This will be the first crinum I have ever grown so I'm excited about planting it. I bet the fragrance is wonderful.

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