Culinary herbs in small containers
(Image credit: Muenz)

Herbs do double duty in the garden. They provide fragrant, tasty leaves or flowers for culinary and other uses. They also look nice and make great additions to beds or container gardens. If you’re new to herb growing, try these beginner herbs that are low maintenance and easy. 

Easy Herbs for Beginners

These easy-to-grow herbs require minimal maintenance and aren’t too picky about soil. They just want sunlight and regular water to thrive. 

  1. Basil. This is an easy annual herb you can grow from seed. Make sure all risk of frost has passed before planting basil outside. Keep sowing seeds every few weeks for a summer-long supply. 
  2. Mint. All types of mint grow and spread vigorously. You can’t fail when it comes to mint. However, it can take over beds, so grow it in a container only. 
  3. Catnip. If you have feline friends, grow this mint relative in a container. 
  4. Chives. Chive grows easily and readily. It reseeds too, so if you leave some flowers in place, it will return the following year. 
  5. Dill. Dill also reseeds to produce new plants each year. It will go to seed quickly in hot summer temperatures, so plant in early spring for a good harvest. You can also plant it in early fall for a second harvest. 
  6. Lavender. One of the most recognizably fragrant herbs, lavender comes in several varieties. Choose English lavender for a cooler climate and French lavender if you have hot summers. 
  7. Sage. Use both the leaves and flowers of this culinary herb that grows easily in drier soil and full sun. This is a perennial herb. 
  8. Thyme. Thyme grows low to the ground and makes an excellent, low-maintenance groundcover. You can find it in several varieties with different flavors and scents. 
  9. Rosemary. For an herb that grows like a small, woody shrub, choose rosemary. It has a piney-scent and is versatile in the kitchen. 
  10. Lemon verbena. You can’t go wrong with this sweetly-scented herb. Grow it as an annual or bring it indoors for the winter. 

How to Grow Easy-Care Herbs

Check the requirements for each herb you plant. Some cannot tolerate any frost, while others are hardier. Some are annuals, and others reseed and come back year after year. Most have similar water requirements and tolerate poor soil. 

You can get transplants from a garden store or nursery, but growing easy herbs from seed is also doable. Follow planting directions and water your herbs regularly if it doesn’t rain. Make sure they have good drainage, as the plants won’t tolerate standing water or soggy roots. They’ll also need a sunny spot, with several hours of direct light per day. 

Even as a beginner gardener, you can’t go wrong with most herbs. They grow readily even in poor conditions, and have few pests and diseases. Experiment with different herbs and varieties until you find what you like best.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.