Learn About Herbs

 

So you're interested in herb gardening...The Herb Society of America is a great resource for both new and experienced herb gardeners alike!  If you are looking for answers to "where do I start?" Take a look at our Herb Growing Basics page on this website, or check out our book: Herb Gardening for Beginners.

Or are you already growing herbs and are looking for gardening tips to help you improve? Are you looking to try something new and want to learn more about specific species? Maybe you want to learn more about the history of how particular herbs were used. Look at our great Herb Quick Facts and Essential Herb Guides for info on the most popular herbs.

Herbs are great fun to engage children in gardening. Herbs are even a great tool to use in teaching history, social studies, math, and reading as well as gardening! See our Thyme 4 Kids sections!

See our Herb of the Month section to learn fun, and sometimes quirky, facts and recipes about a different herb each month. Or go right to the recipe section and search for new dishes to make with the herbs from your own garden.

Regardless of why, we're glad you are here!


TABLE OF CONTENTS – CLICK ON A TITLE TO LEARN MORE

What is an herb?  Our most frequently asked question

Herb gardening basics / Let's get growing!

Our top ten favorite herbs by HSA member popularity

Whats the connection between The National Herb Garden and The Herb Society of America?

Herb gardening for kids: HSAs Thyme 4 Kids!

HSA Quick Fact Sheets   (quick profiles of plants)

HSA Essential Guides   (in-depth details of plants)

Recipes featuring herbs

Herbal wellness

Conservation and herbs

Sustainable gardening practices

How to take herb cuttings

Composting

Read about herbs (both reference and fiction books) in our library collection


What is an herb? Our most frequently asked question.

The term 'herb' has more than one definition. Botanists describe an herb simply as a small, seed bearing plant with fleshy, rather than woody, parts*– in fact, the term refers to a far wider range of plants! In addition to herbaceous perennials, herbs include trees, shrubs, annuals, vines, and more primitive plants, such as ferns, mosses, algae, lichens, and fungi.

Herbs are valued for their flavor, fragrance, medicinal and healthful qualities, economic and industrial uses, pesticidal properties, and for the coloring of textiles.

*from which we get the term 'herbaceous'

According to The Herb Society of America's New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses by Deni Bown:

"The term "herb" also has more than one definition. Botanists describe an herb as a small, seed bearing plant with fleshy, rather than woody, parts (from which we get the term "herbaceous"). In this book, the term refers to a far wider range of plants. In addition to herbaceous perennials, herbs include trees, shrubs, annuals, vines, and more primitive plants, such as ferns, mosses, algae, lichens, and fungi. They [herbs] are valued for their flavor, fragrance, medicinal and healthful qualities, economic and industrial uses, pesticidal properties, and coloring materials (dyes)."

 © Deni Bown, 2001.

"Herbs are defined as plants (trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, biennials, or annuals) valued historically, presently, or potentially for their flavor, fragrance, medicinal qualities, insecticidal qualities, economic or industrial use, or in the case of dyes, for the coloring material they provide."

Holly Shimizu, 2010 The Herb Society of America's Essential Guide to The Beginner's Herb Garden

 


Growing herbs — an introduction

So you're interested in herb gardening… you're in good company, as with the upsurge in edible gardening, healthy eating, hand crafts, and wellness we get a lot of questions about herb gardening for beginners. The truth is that herb gardening is one of the most fulfilling types of gardening and also requires significantly less skill than the more exotic flowers. Herb gardening is not only a great place for the beginner gardener to start, but it is also a type of gardening that produces a result that is fragrant, useful, and often edible!    Learn more about growing herbs


Gardening for kids: HSA's 'Thyme 4 Kids'

The sensory nature of herbs is instantly intriguing and inviting to kids. Herb gardening with kides a great way to inspire, entertain and teach kids and at the same time develop a life-long interest! Children love to see the natural growing process, and see the beauty and useful qualities that herbs provide.  Learn more about Thyme 4Kids

HSA supports children's gardens in a big way, both at home and at school. We offer the Donald Samull Classroom Herb Garden Grant to schools to support gardening initiatives on their campus, and creates a great learning environment too.    Learn more about Donald Samull Classroom Herb Garden Grant

 


Conservation and herbs

We believe that conserving natural elements of our environment is essential to a healthy planet, and herbs serve an essential part of that balance. So, we focus on two main initiatives where we can have a positive influence: 1) Notable Native Herb, a program where we study and encourage the growth of native plants, countering the negative influence of invasive plants, and; 2) GreenBridges, a project to maintain and create a system of gardens across our nation, effectively creating 'green bridges' that natural pollinators will use to migrate and perform their work so that nature may exist as it was intended.   Learn more about conservation

 


Herbal wellness

Visitors to our site often have questions about herbs and how they can improve our sense of health and well-being. While we cannot comment on the medicinal qualities of herbs, we can direct you to experts who may be able to provide the info you're looking for. Herb gardening itself is a past time that has many positive qualities, such as improving a individual mood and calming the spirit.  READ MORE

Click here for ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFO ON HERBS

 


Read about herbs

The Collection in our library includes more than 3,500 volumes covering a wide range of topics related to herbs and gardening. Materials collected include books (both scholarly and works of fiction featuring herbs), periodicals, multimedia, collateral pieces, and rare books.

 


Sustainable gardening practices

Sustainability is most often associated with the environment and specifically to our landscapes and gardens. What is a sustainable garden? It is an organic garden taken a step further. Following organic gardening practices will sustain soils and plants while it nourishes and sustains your family, both physically and aesthetically.

Sustainable gardening is one of the most important and effective sustainability practices that we can follow. Its practice and benefits include respecting, and improving the soils, using native plants, shrubs and trees to create beautiful landscapes, feeding one’s family fresh, organically-grown fruits, berries and vegetables and utilizing every renewable resource that nature provides, from rain water to gravel.

Best practices for herb gardeners. SHOW ME MORE

 

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Herbal wellness (Optional, don't delete)

Visitors to our site often have questions about herbs and how they can improve our sense of health and well-being. While we cannot comment on the medicinal qualities of herbs, we can direct you to experts who may be able to provide the info you're looking for. Herb gardening itself is a past time that has many positive qualities, such as improving a individual mood and calming the spirit.  READ MORE

Click here for ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFO ON HERBS

EXAMPLE COPY: While some take up gardening as a fun weekend hobby or a cheaper way to add fresh herbs and veggies to their diet, there may also be some health benefits to getting down and dirty in the backyard. Recent studies suggest gardening can improve mood, reduce stress, and even encourage a more hopeful outlook on life. When it comes to the distressed, another study suggests that gardening outdoors could be more effective at reducing cortisol levels (read: the “stress” hormone) than staying indoors and reading. Additional research suggests that in some individuals, gardening might also bring out greater feelings of spirituality and could even offer relief from traumatic experiences like dealing with illness or the death of a loved one. In one study, researchers found that gardening can be therapeutic, particularly among those suffering from depression. Over the course of a 12-week horticulture program, subjects showed decreases in the severity of their depression, with the biggest mood boosting effects occurring in those who were most engaged in their gardening activities.  SEE MORE

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