Often, householders plant their favourite herbs by the back door to allow easy access from the kitchen for cooking. Although this keeps them handy, whether or not it will work depends on which herbs you wish to grow. Herbs originate from all corners of the World and so have different growing requirements.
Many perennial herbs such as lavender, sage and rosemary enjoy poor soil, full sun and good drainage (especially in the Winter), which recreates their natural growing environment around the Mediterranean. In contrast, plants such as mint, chives, parsley, lemon balm, fennel and oregano are more forgiving and can tolerate damper soil and light shade. Read more about growing Mediterranean herbs.
If you are planting a container, do collect together plants which have similar growing requirements, and consider how much sun the pot will receive during the day.
If you would like to grow mint, we recommend keeping it separately in its own pot, even if planted in the ground, as it is a rampant spreader and may crowd out the other herbs.
Tender plants such as basil, coriander and lemongrass can certainly be grown in the UK, although they must be protected from frost and are generally grown as annuals. Grow young plants or seedlings on a windowsill until all threat of frost has passed. They actively enjoy warm conditions, so will be happy in a polytunnel or greenhouse or on a sunny patio all Summer. In fact basil is commonly planted around tomatoes as it enjoys similar conditions.
In contrast, hardy annuals such as pot marigold (Calendula), borage and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) are easily grown from seed. They can be sown straight into the ground and will self-seed happily.
Author: Ruth Ridley