The Different Types of Herbs

Herbs, like other plant types, are annuals, perennials, and biennials. Many types of herbs exist yet the uniqueness of each is understood. Your interest in a particular type of herb should lead you to research that herb type completely to thoroughly understand its proper use and care. Keep reading to find out the various herb types along with their proper use and purpose.


Annual plants should be planted from seed each year and will not survive a frost. Summer savory, cilantro, and basil are examples of annual herbs.


Perennials return each spring and can live through colder weather. Sage and winter savory are good examples of perennial herbs.


These interesting plants divide their growth and reproduction over a two-year period. Foliage is produced the first year, in the second year flowers followed by seeds. Angelica, caraway, and parsley are biennials. Biennial seed should be planted directly in the garden in late spring.


Begin preparing the soil by working it well to a fine texture, wetting it slightly as you work it. Form shallow rows and plant the herb seeds followed by covering and slightly tamping the soil over the seed. Very fine seed can be mixed into sand which allows it to spread more evenly. After planting use wet burlap or newspaper to keep the soil moist while the seed germinates.

Herb Types:

Most gardeners group herbs into categories for which these are used. The most common, some say most useful, herbs are the culinary herbs. This category contains herbs that have a wide variety of uses in cooking. Some culinary herbs, like chives, thyme, basil, sage, savory and marjoram are used in relatively small quantities because of their strong flavors that enhance many different types of food. One that is extremely popular is parsley and is mostly used as a garnish.


These herbs are grown and harvested primarily for their pleasant smelling aromas. Some aromatic herbs, like mint, rosemary, and lovage, have oils that are extracted and used in perfumes. Some are harvested whole, or in large pieces, and placed in linen closets to scent bed-sheets or clothing. Drying aromatic herbs and making potpourri is a popular hobby. Drying the herbs extends their fragrance “shelf life.” Commonly, lavender and lemon verbena are used in potpourri.

Medicinal Herbs:

Medicinal herbs are used for health-restoring purposes. Over the many years certain herbs have been thought to be capable of curing the body. While some herbs are recognized by modern medical knowledge as being beneficial to your body, others are overrated in their effect. Use medicinal herbs carefully; some are safe but others are dangerous if eaten.

Ornamental Herbs:

Flavor, healing, or fragrances are some of the purposes for herbs. However, beauty is one reason to use some herbs. Brightly colored flowers or foliage are characteristic of ornamental herbs. Many have lightly colored or white flowers. Crimson flowers mark the herb valerian. Chicory and borage both have exquisite blue blossoms.


Many herbs have multiple uses even though each are put into specific categories. While mint is used for herbal tea or cooking, garden pest control is another of its functions. Your understanding of herbs and gardens will enhance your ability to choose the best one for your desired purpose.


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