The Easiest Herbs to Grow from Seed

Girl picking chive blossoms
Girl picking chive blossoms.

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Grow herbs from seed (instead of buying plants), and you'll save a ton. Here are some of the easiest herbs to start from seed. These can all be direct-sown outdoors, so there's no need to fuss with seed trays and grow lights.

Basil: Use it fresh in pesto and tomato sauce, or dry it, and add it to your spice rack. Basil is sensitive to the cold, so wait to plant your seeds until after the last risk of frost has passed. It's an excellent companion plant for tomatoes.

Chamomile: This flowering annual looks pretty in the garden, and can be used to make a calming tea. It a good self-seeder, so once you plant it, it'll come back again and again on its own. Grow it in full sun or part-sun, it'll thrive in either. 

Chevril: This annual is related to parsley and carrots. It isn't a show stopper in the garden, but it's an excellent herb to cook with. Use it to garnish dishes or as an ingredient in salad dressings. It's an excellent replacement for parsley, and one of the four herbs in fines herbs.

Chives: Plant chives once, and you'll have them forever. This herb spreads readily, and develops pretty purple pom pom flowers that pollinators love. Cut chives as you need them, and use them to flavor baked potatoes and salad dressings.

Cilantro/Coriander: This herb is a two-for-one. Use the cilantro leaves to top off tacos and flavor salsa; Then, allow the flowers to go to seed, so you can gather the coriander seeds to flavor curries and spice rubs.

Dill: This delicate herb, with frond-like leaves has a wonderful flavor that can be used to flavor dressings, meats and more. Use it fresh, or use it dried. It's delicious both ways. Dill is an annual, but it'll often self-seed, if you allow the pretty, yellow flowers to go to seed at the end of the growing season.

Fennel: Plant fennel seeds as soon as the soil is warm enough to be workable. This perennial is commonly used to flavor eggs and meat, and has attractive frond-like foliage.

Lemon Balm: This member of the mint family has a wonderful lemony fragrance and taste, and spreads readily. Use it in any recipe that would benefit from a touch of lemon.

Mint: Plant mint once, and you'll have it forever. This herb is incredibly versatile. Use it to flavor tea and lemonade, or try your hand at making your own peppermint extract.

Parsley: This herb is slow to get established, so start it early. Then, use the leaves to flavor soups and sauces. It also makes an excellent garnish.

Beware of Invasive Herbs

Most herbs are good spreaders, and can quickly take over a garden. That's great if you want them to do that, not so great, if you don't. Always do a bit of research before you plant anything, so you don't run into unexpected problems down the road.

Herbs with an invasive tendency (mint, for example) can be planted in pots to prevent their spread. You can even bury their pots in your garden, if you prefer the look of them being planted in the ground.

Check for Plant Compatibility 

If you're going to be growing herbs and vegetables in the same area, be sure the plants you put next to each other are good for each other. Some herb and vegetable combinations are beneficial -- resulting in better growth and fewer pest problems, but others can lead to trouble. Use this chart to look up good companions for your herbs.

Get a Jump on the Season

Want to start your seeds in the winter, so you'll have decent-sized plants by the time spring arrives? Give wintersowing a try. It's a method of outdoor seed-starting that requires no special equipment and very little care, and it'll greatly expand the list of herbs that you're able to grow from seed. Herbs, like Thyme and Marjoram, generally need to be started indoors to do well, but if you wintersow them, you'll find them just as easy to grow as any of the herbs on the easy-grow list.