MOUNTAIN GARDENING ADVISORIES
Teller County Master Gardeners
(719) 689-2552

Herbs for Teller County
An herb is a plant used for its medicinal, savory or aromatic qualities.  It is not just ornamental.

Aloe Vera
(aloe barbadensis)

Succulent; height up to 2'
Origin: Africa & Mediterranean
Culture: Soil should be sandy loam, very well-drained; infrequent, deep watering; filtered sun.
Propagation: Easy, from suckers or off shoots.
Use: Ornamental - most commonly used as a domestic houseplant.
Medicinal: gel is soothing for itching and burns; break off a leaf & slice down the center lengthwise.
Anise
(pimpinella aniusm)
Annual; height 18-24:
Origin: Asia Minor, Egypt, naturalized throughout the Mediterranean
Culture: Average to fairly rich soil, well-drained, pH 6-7.5, sun
Propagation: Seed directly in garden early, will self-sow. Germination in 20-28 days @70 degrees.
Use: Seeds are delicious in pizza sauce, breads, cookies.  May take 140 days to produce seeds. Plant is ornamental, airy with tiny, white flowers.
Basil
(ocimum basillcum)
Annual; height 18-24"
Origin: India
Propagation: Seeds. Germination in 6-10 days @70 degrees
Use: Good with tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, on pizza.  Best used fresh, but dries well. Good in flavored vinegar & pesto.
Borage
(borago officinallis)
Annual (sometimes biennial) Height 2-3'
Origin: Syria
Culture: Full sun; adaptable to most soils; pH 5-8
Propagation: Easy, from seed, sometimes reseeds itself. Germination in 7-10 days
Use: Beautiful blue to pink blossoms are edible. Whole plant has cucumber-like taste, though hairy leaves can be unpleasant.
Catmint
(nepeta mussinii)
Catnip
(nepeta cataria)
Perennial; height 1-4"
Origin: Europe
Culture: Well-drained soil, pH 5-7. Drought tolerant, more lush with ample water. Sun, but can adjust to shade with some loss of fragrance.
Propagation: Easy to divide & transplant.
Use: Ornamental. Make an infusion to spray on young vegetables to ward of flea beetles.
Chamomile
(matricaria recutita)
Annual; height 2-2.5'
Origin: Unknown, grows wild in most places
Culture: Dry, light & sandy soil, pH 5-8
Propagation: Easy, from seed, self-sows, maybe too readily.
Use: Makes a very soothing tea. Ornamental with daisy-like flowers.
Chives
(allium schoenoprasum)
Perennial; height to 18"
Origin: Greece, Sweden, the Alps, Northern Britain
Culture: Moderately rich soil, well-drained, pH 6; full sun
Propagation: Seed, readily reseeds itself. Germination in 10-14 days @ 65 degrees.
Use: Primarily culinary.
Coriander/Cilantro
(coriandrum sativum)
Annual; height 2-3'
Origin: Mediterranean
Culture: Moderately rich soil, pH 5-7; full sun.
Propagation: Easily grown from seed directly in the garden. Germination in 7-14 days.
Use: Grown & imported for liquor industry. Leaves are called cilantro & used in Mexican, Chinese, Caribbean & African cuisines. Seeds are used to improve flavor of medicines.
Dill
(anethum graveolens)
Annual; height 2-3'
Origin: Southwestern Asia & Mediterranean
Culture: Moderately rich soil, pH 5-7; full sun.
Propagation: Self-sows. Germination in 21-25 days. Needs light to germinate. Fast growing. Do not plant near carrots.
Use: Seeds & foliage have culinary uses. Dries well. Wind can destroy the tall stalks. Stake or plant in protected area. The airy foliage is nice in a perennial flower bed.
Fennel
(foeniculum vulgare)
Very tender perennial; height 4'
Origin: Mediterranean
Culture: Average, well-drained soil. pH 6.5; full sun.
Propagation: Easy from seed, may reseed itself. Germination in 10-14 days.
Use: Bulb & seed for culinary usage. Bronze fennel is very nice in perennial flower beds.
Geranums, Scented
(pelargonium)
Tender perennial; height to 3'
Origin: South Africa. There are more than 230 scented cultivars.
Culture: Soil should be well-drained & should dry out between watering.
Propagation: Stem cuttings.
Use: Vary aromatic. Some varieties used to flavor teas & jellies. Pelargonium citrosum is used to repel mosquitoes.
Germander
(teucrium chamaedrys)
Perennial
Origin: Mediterranean
Culture: Well-drained, average, light-weight soil; pH 7-8.5. Don't let dry completely between watering. Full sun.
Propagation: Seeds, divide clumps, cuttings.
Use: Primarily ornamental. Used in tonic wines & liqueurs.
Ginger
(zingiber officinale)
Houseplant only here in Teller County; can be moved outside in summer.
Origin: Southeast Asia
Culture: Rich, moist soil, well-drained; filtered sun or part shade. Likes warm weather & humidity.
Propagation: Cut eyes from rhizomes & plant.
Use: Culinary in Oriental & Indian cuisines.
Lavender
(lavendula)
Tender perennial (only L. angustifolia will withstand frost); height to 3'
Origin: Mediterranean
Culture: Well-drained, sandy soil, pH 6-8; full sun.
Propagation:  Cuttings & division. Difficult from seed.
Lemon Balm
(melissa Officionalis)
Perennial; height to 2"
Origin: Southern Europe, Mediterranean
Culture: Average, well-drained soil, pH 7; full sun to sahde.
Propagation: Seeds, root divisions, cuttings. Germination in 7-14 days @ 70 degrees.
Use: A mint-type herb with a square stem. Culinary uses. Lemon flavor good in tea, beer, wine, fish sauces, salad dressings. Has a tranquilizing effect. Attracts bees.
Marjoram
(origanum majorana)
Tender perennial; usually grown as an annual; height 1'
Origin: North Africa & Southwest Asia
Culture: Light, dry soil that is well-drained; pH 6.9; full sun.
Propagation: Seed & division.
Use: Especially good with most meats & vegetables.
Mints
(mentha)
Perennial, very invasive. All mints have square stems. Height varies with variety
Varieties: lemon, pineapple, chocolate, lime, orange, peppermint (mentha piperita), spearmint (mentha spicata),
pennyroyal (mentha pulegium).
Origin: Europe & Asia, South Africa, America & Australia
Culture: Rich, moist, well-drained soil, pH 4.5-8; full sun to partial shade
Propagation: Root division, seed in some varieties.
Use: Wonderful in drinks, teas or as a garnish for fruit.
Oregano
(origanum vulgare)
Perennial; height 1-2'
Origin: Asia, naturalized in Europe
Culture: Well-drained, slightly sandy soil, pH 4.5-8; full sun.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings or root division. Germination in 5-10 days @ 60-65 degrees.
Use: Good in spaghetti sauce or pizza.
Parsley
(petroselinum)
Biennial or more usually grown as an annual; height 18"
Origin: Northern & Central Europe, Western Asia
Culture: Fairly rich & moist soil, well-drained; full sun.
Propagation: Seed. Germination in 2-3 weeks @ 70 degrees.
Use: Culinary.
Rosemary
(rosmarinus officinallis)
Perennial; height to 5'
Origin: Mediterranean, Portugal & Northwestern Spain
Culture: Well-drained soil. pH 6.5-7; full sun.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings, layering.
Use: Culinary to enhance the flavor of many foods, meats as well as vegetables, soups & sauces. Ornamental; can be sued in topiary designs, tolerates reflected heat well so can be used on patios.
Rue
(ruta graveolens)
Perennial; height to 3'
Origin: Southern Europe
Culture: Well-drained soil, pH 6-8; full sun.
Propagation: Seed or cuttings; Germination in 1-14 days @ 60-70 degrees.
Use: Very pungent. Italians enjoy it in salads, Ethiopians make a sauce of cayenne & rue, rue cheese. Blue-green foliage makes it very useful ornamentally.
Sage
(salvia officinalis)
Perennial; height 18"-3'
Origin: Northern Mediterranean
Culture: Moderately rich, well-drained soil; pH6; full sun
Propagation: Seed, cuttings, layering; germination in 2-3 weeks @ 60-70 degrees.
Use: Culinary; flavorful in dressings, cooked with meats or vegetables. Ornamental.
Salad Burnet
(poterium sanguisorba)
Perennial; height 18"
Origin: Western Asia & Europe
Culture: Sandy, well-drained soil; full sun
Propagation: Seed, or divide in spring or fall.
Use: Culinary, good in salads, cucumber-like taste. Easy to grow indoors.
Savory
(satureja)
Height to 18"
Varieties: Summer savory (S. hortensis) Annual
               Winter savory (S. montana) Perennial
Origin: Mediterranean
Culture: Average soil, pH 6-7; full sun
Propagation: Seed. Germination in 2-3 weeks @ 68 degrees night and 86 degrees day.
Use: Culinary, excellent accompaniment to fish& is often used in beans.
Sweet Woodruff
(galium odoratum)
Perennial; height to 8"
Origin: Europe, North Africa & Asia
Culture: Well-drained soil, rich in humus & moist, pH 5; shade.
Propagation: Seed is slow to germinate. Division is easy. Can be invasive.
Use: Good ground cover, wonderfully fragrant, ornamental in wreaths, garlands & sachets. Fragrance is that of cut hay & vanilla.
Tarragon
(artemisia dracunculus)
Perennial; height to 2''
Origin: Caspian Sea area & Siberia
Culture: Rich, sandy well-drained loam, pH 6.9; full to partial shade.
Propagation: Cuttings or root division.
Use: Culinary, especially French. Has an anise-like flavor that is good for flavoring vinegar, excellent in fish as well as salads & sauces.
Thyme
(thymus vulgaris)
Perennial; height to 12"
Origin: Western Mediterranean
Culture: Light, dry, well-drained soil, pH 6.3; full sun to partial shade.
Propagation: Seed, root division, cuttings, layering. Germination in 10-14 days @ 55 degrees.
Use: Culinary, thyme works well in most foods. A good ornamental to use as an edging. Attracts bees.
Yarrow
(achillea millefolium)
Perennial; height to 3'
Origin: Europe
Culture: Average, well-drained soil, pH 6.1. full sun.
Propagation: Division or seed, self seeds easily. Germination in 10-14 days.
Use: Ornamental, dries well. Also used to make dyes.

    During the growing season, it is important to pinch the flowers off the herbs to keep them from going to seed. Harvesting & drying herbs will allow you to continue to savor homegrown herbal flavor during the winter while they are dormant, if you choose not to have an indoor herb garden. You can save money & enjoy a sense of satisfaction as well. Most herbs should be gathered while blossoming, in the early morning after the dew has dried. Herbs can be dried in bunches hung upside down or placed in a single layer on a screen in a well-ventilated area. Most herbs will dry within 7 days. Make certain they are completely dry before packaging to prevent mold.

    Elevations in Teller County vary greatly, so it may take some experimenting to find what will grow best where you live. Some perennial herbs must be grown as annuals or moved indoors during the cold winter. For the less hardy plants find a microclimate that is most suitable for the plant's needs, i.e., close to a fence that offers protection from wind, hail or frost; in a rock garden where the stones will hold the heat from the sun; or on a south-facing slope. Many herbs grow well in post and can be moved inside during the winter months, although they should be gently sprayed with water and checked for insects before taking them inside. It may be necessary to give them supplemental light if you don't have a window that offers adequate sun light. When the warm weather returns, move them back outside to the garden or deck.

    Caution is advised when using herbs medicinally. A doctor or herbalist should always be consulted before starting any self-treatment.