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Tips for Growing Herb Plants Outdoors

Herb gardening can take part in any landscaping scheme - from a simple planting of culinary herbs at the kitchen doorstep to an elaborate formal knot garden of medieval tradition. Herb plants have a myriad of shapes, colors and textures which offer many possibilities: ground covers, boarders and backgrounds as well as the perfect addition to a potted garden. You can integrate herb plants into your vegetable garden as insect repelling companion plants, and they will be close at hand to season the harvest. Adorn containers and hanging baskets with herb plants.

Selecting the Proper Place to Plant

Any sunny, well-drained site will make your herb plants happy. In general, herbs are not especially fussy about soil type as long as the soil drains well. Poor soils tend to product highly aromatic foliage, while richer soils will produce less aromatic but more abundant foliage. All soil benefits from the addition of compost, manure or peat moss - dig about 8" into the soil and add sand if you have poorly draining soil. Most herbs prefer full sun, but they will tolerate some partial shade. Mints, chervil and sweet woodruff thrive in shaded areas.




Planting Your Herb Plants Outside

Once the danger of frost has passed, you are ready to plant the herbs. However, there are many hardy perennial herbs that can be planted at anytime during the growing season, even in fall. Before you plant, make sure that you understand the growing habit of each herb plant and plan accordingly. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate its root ball, and remove from the pot and set in the hole. Firm soil around the plant and water thoroughly.

When to Water Your Plants

You plants will benefit from a less frequent but more thorough watering. Frequent light spraying is not a good way to water. Make sure that you penetrate 8" to 12" to reach the roots. Winter protection: Perennial herbs left to winter outdoors will stand a better chance of surviving the cold if you mulch with straw or dead leaves. Put about 4" of mulch over the herb plants before the ground freezes in late fall. This is more important in areas where the snow cover is not persistent through the winter.
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