Perennial herbs zone 5

Growing herbs can be expensive, particularly if the plants that you choose are annuals that will only grow for one year. Try choosing from this list of perennial herbs instead. They will give long lasting value, year after year.

Hands down, the best value for your dollar is a perennial plant. I’ve noticed that many garden centers now sell larger annuals in 6″ pots (or even larger) with a hefty price tag. The price of some annuals is now almost the same as a perennial plant, which makes the choice even easier – perennials all the way!

What is a perennial herb?

A perennial herb is a plant that will last more than 2 years in your garden. Most of them go dormant over the winter months, to come back again in spring.

Tender perennials will grow for many years, but most will only do this outdoors in the warmer climates. If you live in a colder location, you can still grow them and have them last over the winter, but will need to bring them indoors when the frost arrives.

Annual herbs, on the other hand last just one year, and Biennial herbs last two.

See more about the differences between the types of herbs here.

List of Perennial Herbs

I use herbs all the time in cooking. To me, the difference in taste between dried and fresh herbs is night and day, so I grow herbs year round, both indoors in the winter and outside in the warmer months.

Here is a list of perennial herbs that will over winter and come back next year. Some will work for most of the cold hardiness zones. Others are more tender and need to be grown in pots and brought indoors in the winter in colder climates.

List of Perennial Herbs A- L

My list of perennial herbs will give you some facts about each herb, their hardiness zones and some tips for using them in recipes.


Aniseed or star anise is a flowering plant of the parsley family. It is native to the Mediterranean area, as well as Southwest Asia. It has feathery leaves and flowers that are produced on umbrels.

The flowers have small brown seeds that have a licorice flavor. These seeds are what we typically use in the kitchen. The leaves are also sometimes used in salads or soups.

Anise is cold hardy in zones 4-9.

Bay Laurel

The leaves of bay laurel are used in soups and stews. Fresh leaves have a much stronger flavor than the commonly seen dried leaves. Use bay to flavor meat and game dishes. The fresh leaves are used mainly in marinades and for preserving fish.

Bay laurel is hardy in the warmer zones, 8 and above. In colder zones, it is frost tender and is best grown in a pot so that you can bring it indoors for the winter. If you can grow it outdoors are year, it will grow into a tree size.

See my tips for growing bay laurel here.

Bergamot (Bee Balm)

It is the flowers of bergamot that are used in the kitchen but the leaves can also be used to make healing teas. The flowers make an edible garnish and can also be used in salads. Use the petals of the flowers to make bee balm jelly, too.

Bee balm is a member of the mint family and is often grown in cottage gardens. Use the leaves to flavor lamb recipes. It is cold hardy in zones 4-9.


It is not just cats that are attracted to catnip. The leaves of the plant leaves can be candied and added to dessert recipes. And the oil from the leaves are used to relieve nervousness and headaches. It can also be used for indigestion.

Catnip is cold hardy in zones 3-9.


Grows to 2-3 feet. Use chicory roots in coffee, and leaves in salads. The leaves are nice braised in butter and served over vegetables. Add chicory leaves and flowers as a garnish. Hardy in zones 3-9.


This useful kitchen herb grows to a height of 12 – 24 inches tall. It is a hardy perennial that will over winter in zones 3 – 9. Chives are members of the onion family. Use them chopped as a garnish for soups, or sauces. They also make an onion substitute for onions if you run out.

The flowers of chives are wonderful as a garnish or for pickling in vinegar. See my tips for growing chives here. Garlic chives are also a perennial herb.


Most gardeners tend to think of echinacea as the perennial flowering plant that graces cottage gardens. But echinacea has long been used as a herb for its medicinal benefits.

The roots of echinacea have active compounds that can be used for medicinal purposes such as helping colds and the flu. The leaves and petals of the flowers can also be used to make tea.

Echinaea is cold hard to zones 3-8. See my tips for growing echinacea here.


You’ll need some room to grow fennel. The plant will reach a height of 5-7 feet! Every part of the plant is edible. Fennel seeds add a delicious anise like taste to sauces. They are used on fish and in many baked goods.

The leaves of fennel are lovely in salads and soups, and they make a great tasting stuffing. You can eat the bulbs of fennel as a cooked or raw vegetable.

Fennel is cold hardy in zones 6-10 (if you don’t harvest the bulbs.) In zones 2-5 it grows as a biennial.


The roots of ginger are the ones that we think of when using in recipes. Ginger is a widely used spice in Asian cooking. The leaves can also be boiled and used in teas. They also pair well with rice and pork dishes.

Ginger is a moderately tender perennial. It can usually be grown in zones 7 and higher, although the leaves will die in the winter in zones lower than zone 10. For colder zones, grow ginger in a pot and bring it indoors to help it over winter .


The root of horseradish plants are the most well known. It is used grated into salads, sauces and mayonnaise type dressings. The flavor goes very well with roast beef and fish.

Horseradish plants grow to 18-24 inches tall. It is not the prettiest plant, for sure! To harvest, dig up the roots in autumn. The leaves can be picked and dried any time. The leaves have a sharp, bitter taste. Hardy in zones 3-9.


This perennial herb is known most often as a medicinal herb. It relieves colds and sore throats, and the mold that grows on the leaves are used to make penicillin. It grows to 18-24 inches tall.

To use hyssop in the kitchen, use hyssop leaves, which are pungent and aromatic with game and fish dishes and in soups and stews. Add the flowers to salads. Hyssop leaves also make a soothing tea if you have a cold or sore throat.

Hyssop is cold hardy in zones 6-10.

Grow lavender in a sunny spot in well draining soil. Lavender flowers are used to flavor jams and vinegars. They can also be used with savory herbs in soups and stews.

The flowers can also be crystallized and used as a garnish for ice cream, cakes and cookies. The leaves of lavender are bitter but can be used in small amounts in salads.

Most lavender varieties are hardy in zones 5-9. Spanish lavender will only over winter in zones 7-9.

Lemon Balm

Grow lemon balm in full sun with some light shade in the hottest part of the day. Lemon balm leaves go well with many herbs and add a lemony taste to salads, fruit dishes, teas and poultry recipes.

The plant will grow to 3 feet tall. It was considered a sacred plant by the Greeks. It is cold hardy in zones 4-9. (needs mulching in zone 4.)

Lemon Grass

This perennial herb is used as a spice in soups and sauces. It is used in recipes throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Thai and Indonesian dishes.

Lemon grass grows into a very large grass like plant. The main part of the plant that is used for cooking are the plump stems, although the leaves can be used, as well. All parts of the plant have a strong lemon flavor.

Lemongrass is cold hardy only in zones 9-10 so is considered a tender perennial. In colder zone, let it spend the summer outdoors but bring it inside over the winter.

Lemon Verbena

This small delicate shrub grows to about 18 inches tall. It is a native of South America and is often used to scent oils. It is mainly used as a garnish in recipes, since the leaves tend to be quite sharp in flavor.

You can also use the chopped leaves to add to sweet drinks and tea. It’s useful anytime you would like a strong lemon flavor or aroma. Lemon verbena is only cold hardy in zones 9-10. Otherwise treat it as an annual.


This perennial herb is also known by the name love parsley. Even though it looks something like parsley, it has a flavor more like celery. It can grow to 3 feet tall and needs full sun.

The leaves of lovage are delicious in soups, stews, broths and salads. They are also tasty in bread recipes and rice dishes. They add a pungent flavor to recipes. Cold hardy in zones 4-8 but may need some protection from the cold in zone 4.

List of Perennial Herbs M – Z

Have you ever had someone give you a potted herb but have no idea what the name of it is? Check out my herb identification page for a great graphic of herbs and some growing tips for them.

The following herbs are those that start with the letters M – Z.


Sweet marjoram is a part of the oregano family and is a popular herb for cooking. It is a small plant, growing 6 to 20 inches and needs full sun with some mid day shade, possibly.

Marjoram leaves have a flavor that is both sweet and spicy. They can be used in making teas and do a great job of adding some pizzazz to a salad. The herb is often used in Italian cooking, as well as other Mediterranean cuisines.

The herb is only said to be hardy in zones 9-10 but I have heard of some gardeners stretching it to some of the colder zones. Otherwise grow marjoram as an annual.


If you grow mint, be sure to try and keep it contained, since it is quite invasive and can take over a garden spot easily. The plant can grow to over 3 feet tall.

Mint is very versatile in the kitchen. Use it to make flavorful teas. The leaves can be crystallized in sugar and used as a decoration for cakes and pastries.

It is very popular when combined with chocolate. You can also use it in savory recipes to add fresh flavor to potatoes, vegetables and even soups and stews. Mint is very popular in Middle Eastern cooking. There are many varieties and they vary as to cold hardiness, but most are cold hardy in zones 3-8.

There are several types of mint plants that are all perennial, most hardy down to at least zone 5 and lower. A few commonly seen are:

  • pineapple mint
  • spearmint
  • Moroccan mint
  • silver mint


No list of perennial herbs would be complete without including oregano. I grow oregano year round, since it is one of my favorite kitchen herbs.

There are many varieties of oregano, including both Italian and Greek versions. Oregano is often used in making a bouquet garni to flavor soups and stews.

Oregano has a distinctive flavor that many describe as peppery. It combines well with garlic and is often used in Italian cooking. Use it on pizzas, with grilled meats and in spicy sauces. Cold hardy in zones 5-10.

See my tips for growing oregano here.


Many people treat rosemary as an annual, but this surprises me. Here in my zone 7b garden, it grows right through the winter for me (although it does get quite woody after a few years.)

Use rosemary leaves to flavor pretty much anything from grilled meats (lamb loves it!) to fish, chicken, potatoes and other vegetables. You can even flavor fresh fruits with rosemary.

The herb is commonly used around the holiday time. Rosemary is cold hardy in zones 6-10. The plant blooms with purple flowers that are also edible or can be used as a garnish to pretty up a plate.

Check out this article for my tips for growing rosemary.


If you enjoy making stuffings, you’ll love to use fresh sage. This perennial herb grows from 1-3 feet tall and loves the full sun, as well as some light shade. Be sure to harvest before the plant blooms in spring and again in late summer.

Sage is a flavorful herb that combines best with rich meats like pork, game and turkey. It also goes well with cheese dishes and makes an interesting herb infused vinegar. Sage is cold hardy in zones 5.9. See my sage plant care tips here.


The leaves of sorrel can be plain green or veined in red. It is widely used in French cooking and has leaves that look a lot like spinach, or Swiss chard. The flavor is sharp and lemony.

Use sorrel leaves as the base of sauces for eggs and fish dishes. It makes an interesting addition to salads and cooked vegetables. A popular use of it is in sorrel soup.

Sorrel grows to about 18 inches tall and likes full sun. It grows best in early spring or fall. Sorrel is cold hardy in zones 4-9.


This hardy perennial grows to 2-3 feet and likes a sunny spot that is sheltered from the wind. It grows from division or cuttings.

Tarragon has a light, sweet licorice like flavor. It is great used in soups and stews and delightful with chicken, fish and game dishes. The herb is often used in bearnaise sauces.

Tarragon is very cold hardy and can take temps down to -20 degrees F. (zones 2-9)


I use thyme all the time in my recipes. It’s a compact shrub that grows from 3″ to 18″ and needs full sign and well draining soil.

Thyme has tiny leaves that can easily be stripped of the stems and added to recipes. It is great with stuffings, sauces and soups and adds a delicious flavor to poultry, fish, seafood and vegetable dishes. Most varieties of thyme are cold hardy in zones 5-10.

See my tips for growing this versatile herb here.

Winter Savory

Rounding out my list of perennial herbs is winter savory. There are two varieties of savory (summer and winter). Winter savory is a perennial but summer savory is grown as an annual.

The flavor of winter savory has a more powerful flavor than the summer version. The leaves are firm and rather tough so they should be removed from the stem. The flavor is at its best just before flowering. Savory is popular in bean dishes. When dried, it retains its full flavor.

Winter savory is cold hardy in zones 5-8.

Where to get perennial herbs

There are several ways that you can grow or purchase perennial herbs. Some you may not thought of!

Take cuttings

Many herbs can be grown from stem cuttings, so if you have a friend who grows them, ask if you can snip a piece off. Then root the cuttings in water or soil.

Some common herbs that will grow this way are:

  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Marjoram
  • Sage
  • Winter Savory

Grow them from seed

One of the easiest ways to grow perennial herbs is from seed. Fennel, oregano, lemon grass and thyme and many others are very easy to grow this way.

Stores that sell perennial herbs

Buying established herb plants is the quickest way to get your herb garden going. Many places now sell herb plants. Check out big box home improvement stores in their garden center. They seem to always have a big variety of the more commonly found ones.

If you are looking for unusual perennial herbs, your local farmer’s market may have a wide range that you can’t find anywhere else.

The produce section of many many grocery stores is a place that I often find perennial herbs, particularly in the spring and summer months.

Be sure to also check online gardening sites. If you are looking for something really unusual, this may be the only place to find them.

Would you like a reminder of this list of perennial herbs? Pin this image to one of your Pinterest Gardening boards for easy access later.

Now it is your turn. Which of the plants from this list of perennial herbs do you use most often in your recipes? Let us know in the comments below.

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Overwintering Herbs

I’ve enjoyed harvesting fresh basil, parsley, and fennel from my garden all summer. Now that fall has arrived, it’s easy to forget about those fresh herbs and resign myself to cooking with dried herbs. But I’m not giving up just yet. Some herb plants can be brought indoors to grow for months, providing summer flavor for my cooking. Others can be protected in the garden over the winter and they will bounce back next spring.

Here are some suggestions for keeping herbs through the winter — indoors and out.

Protect Perennial Herbs

Herb plants can be annual, biennial, or perennial. Perennial herbs, such as chives, lavender, oregano, thyme, overwinter well in the ground. In most areas simply wait until a few hard freezes and then cut back tall herbs to within 4 to 6 inches of the ground. In cold winter areas (USDA zones 3-5), add a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of shredded bark mulch on top of the herbs for added protection. The bark will prevent the ground from freezing and thawing in winter, making it less likely the herb roots will heave out of the ground, desiccate, and die.

Bring Plants Indoors

You can enjoy tender perennial herbs such as rosemary, and biennial herbs such as parsley, all winter long by potting them up and bringing them indoors for the winter. Here’s how.

Dig parsley plants now, making sure to get most of the root system. Pot them in deep containers, water well, and leave them outdoors for a few weeks in a shaded area to recover from transplant shock. Once they’ve revived, bring the plants indoors before a hard freeze and place them in a sunny window. You should be able to harvest fresh parsley leaves all fall, and if the plant gets enough light, it will even produce new growth. However, by late winter the leaf quality will decrease as the plant gets ready to produce a seed stalk. At that time simply compost the plant.

Most rosemary varieties are hardy to USDA zone 7, perhaps even zone 6 with protection. In colder areas you’ll have to bring your plant indoors to survive the winter. Pot it up and allow time for it to adjust to container life. Bring it indoors before a hard freeze and place it in a sunny southern window. Rosemary likes cool temperatures, high humidity, and barely moist soil in winter. Place the plant in a 50- to 60-degree F room. Keep the humidity high by misting often, and place the pot on a pebble tray filled with water. Water the pot just enough to keep the soil from drying out. Your plant may not grow much in winter, but it should survive and be ready to go outdoors next spring. Plus, you’ll have the fragrance and taste of fresh rosemary in your kitchen all winter.

You also can bring hardy herbs indoors in pots, not for their protection but for your use. Herbs such as thyme, oregano, and mint can spend the winters indoors in pots to provide fresh leaves for cooking while the snow flies. Simply move them back outdoors in spring and plant them in the garden.

Take Cuttings

If you don’t have room to bring in a large potted plant, take cuttings of rosemary, lavender, pineapple sage, and other woody perennial herbs. Root the 4- to 6-inch-long cuttings by dipping the cut ends in a rooting hormone powder. Stick the cuttings in a pot filled with moistened vermiculite or sand, cover the pot with a clear plastic bag with slits in it, and keep it in a warm, bright room out of direct sunlight. Once rooted, the cuttings can be transplanted into individual pots and grown under lights all winter. Not only will you have fresh herbs to eat, you’ll have some new plants to grow in your garden next spring.

Sow Seeds

While annual herbs such as basil need to be sown each spring, some herbs will do the sowing themselves and come back year after year. Culinary herbs that readily self sow include coriander and dill.

Collect the seeds now and store them in glass jars in a cool location. Sow them next spring. You also can allow the seeds to naturally drop to the ground in the garden and self sow on their own. The seeds will sprout in fall or early spring, depending on your location. In warm-winter areas you may have a continual supply of these herbs throughout the winter depending on the weather.

7 Essential Perennial Herbs for Your Garden

Written by Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 8 March 2018

Growing your own herbs provides a happy meeting between two great pastimes of gardening and cooking. Starting a herb garden opens up a huge range of flavours beyond those you’ll find on the supermarket shelves, and the culinary benefits of having a constant supply of ultra-fresh herbs to hand can’t be beaten.

Herb plants come in two main types. Annual and biennial herbs such as basil, parsley, and coriander are grown over a single season, dying back as the days shorten and the temperatures drop. Perennial herb plants, on the other hand, live for two years or longer, either as evergreens or as plants that have a dormant period over winter before springing back to life in spring.

Both types are well worth growing, but it’s perhaps perennials which offer the most satisfaction to the cook who likes to get their hands dirty. Here’s why.

Easy to Grow

As anyone who’s tried growing coriander will know, annual herbs can be remarkably delicate and temperamental. If the conditions aren’t quite right, the plants can either stay weak and spindly, or bolt to seed the minute your back is turned.

Not so with perennials. The vast majority of the longer-lived herbs are extremely tolerant, and will take summer droughts and mild winter frosts in their stride – indeed, tougher conditions tend to improve the flavour.

They’re happy to make the best of unpromising soil conditions so long as they’re reasonably well drained, and their often-woody stems and tougher leaves in comparison to annuals present a far less tempting target for slugs, snails, and other pests.

Highly Productive

An established plant will keep on providing all through the season, and will return year after year. Indeed, most perennials need to be discouraged from growing too large over the years, such is their productiveness.

A Delight in the Garden

Lastly, perennial herbs make a great aesthetic addition to a garden. Their variety of shapes, sizes, and colours add structure and interest among more strictly decorative plants, and while their flowers may not be spectacular, they’re an excellent way of attracting bees and other pollinating insects to your garden. Also, the smell of naturally released essential oils on a hot day or warm evening is a pleasure in itself.

So, if you’re now convinced you should start a perennial herb garden, which varieties should you grow? There are countless types to choose from, but here are seven herbs that will make a solid starting point.

1) Rosemary

Rosemary is one of the most popular perennial herbs for the keen cook, thanks to its versatility and intense aroma. It’s a perfect match for most meat dishes, particularly lamb and chicken, while its deeply fragrant flavour adds depth to sauces, stews, and bakes of all kinds. It has a particular affinity with garlic, a combination that shows up frequently in Italian cuisine.

Among perennial herbs, rosemary is one of the more tender and difficult to grow. It is prone to mildew if over-watered or grown in too airless a spot, and as an evergreen it’s not as hardy as those perennials which die back for a winter break.

Although most varieties can survive a medium frost, rosemary will appreciate some protection during prolonged cold snaps or severe frost. Because of this, it’s often grown in pots in alpine areas which can be taken indoors or easily wrapped in horticultural fleece. Grown in the open soil in a suitable climate, rosemary will develop into a dense shrub a meter or more in height, providing all the aromatic leaves and stems you could need.

2) Oregano

Oregano is an essential for many Mediterranean cuisines, particularly Italian and Greek, after which the two main varieties are named. Both Italian and Greek oregano will grow into circular clumps up to 60cm high, with long, woody stems laden with small, intensely flavoured leaves. The plants will tend to sprawl across their patch, setting down new roots as they go, but regular pruning will help keep them in check. It’s also useful to divide the clumps every couple of years to prevent the center of the plant becoming too bare and woody.

Oregano is excellent with cooked or raw tomatoes, adding a warm, slightly minty flavour when used fresh. However, unlike most herbs, the flavour improves markedly when the leaves are dried. Of the two main varieties, Italian is the slightly milder and fresher, while Greek tends towards a stronger and more earthy flavour.

3) Mint

The two most popular members of the mint family are spearmint and peppermint, both of which can add their distinctive flavour to herbal teas, vibrant sauces, and refreshing desserts. If grown on open ground, the plants will reach a height of approximately 50-60cm and provide luxurious amounts of leaves to harvest.

However, planting in open ground isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Mints of all kinds are vigorously invasive and will soon take over any bed they’re planted in, enthusiastically crowding out all other plants. Once established, mint is extremely difficult to remove.

Instead, mint is best grown in a container, either free-standing or set partially into the soil to form a root barrier. Cramping mint’s style in this way will lead to smaller plants with less foliage, but they will be far easier to control.

4) Thyme

Thyme is a mainstay of a traditional herb garden, providing masses of small but highly aromatic leaves in a compact plant that’s happy to grow in most conditions. As a culinary herb, thyme is most at home in deeply savoury dishes such as stews, but it’s also great for adding depth to poultry marinades, and is a suprisingly good match for firm-fleshed fish.

Thyme prefers a sunny location with good drainage, and will be extremely happy basking in the reflected heat of a rockery or at the base of a sunny stone wall, where it will form clumps around 30cm high. Trim regularly to encourage bushy growth, and any cuttings you don’t need immediately can be dried for use in the winter kitchen.

5) Sage

Sage is an exceptionally tough and hardy herb whose most common uses are as a partner to chicken or a flavouring for sausages, but it also marries well with the sweetness of offal or pumpkin.

Sage also has several medicinal uses, being an aid to digestion, a soother of sore throats, and a topical treatment for insect bites and minor stings.

The plant forms a small shrub with thick, leathery leaves, and benefits from severe pruning in the autumn to keep it from turning woody.

6) Chives

Chives are perhaps the ultimate ‘cut and come again’ perennial herb, returning year after year, and they’re often the first plant in the garden to signal the arrival of spring. Started from seed, chives will form clumps of roots and grass-like stems which should be divided every three years or so to stop overcrowding.

Chives will happily grow throughout the season, seeming to spring back no matter how hard you cut them, but if left to their own devices they’ll form attractive pink, purple, or white flowers which can also be used in the kitchen.

Although chives are most often seen as a garnish or a sprinkled green seasoning, as members of the allium family they’re just as good added to a base for soups or sauces, lending a mild but fresh onion flavour.

7) Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a relative of mint and shares the same invasive habits, so unless you’re a real fan of the herb, it’s best to keep it confined. However, even in a medium container it will grow profusely, providing plenty of large, dark green leaves, along with tiny white flowers which may not look much to humans but seem to be immensely attractive to bees.

Although lemon balm is rarely used in cooking, it can add a refreshing lemon flavour to light soups as well as giving a subtle tang to seafood dishes. Nonetheless, this is a useful herb to grow in any garden, as it makes an excellent herbal tea which has a calming effect on both body and mind.

If you love both gardening and food, then starting a herb garden is an obvious choice. While annual herbs from basil to dill may provide quick and tasty gratification, your perennial herb patch will provide delicious, low-maintenance pickings for years to come.


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Greek Oregano

Origanum vulgare var. hirtum



There is much confusion concerning the difference between oregano and marjoram. To many, oregano is more of a flavor than any one individual plant. However, if you want to plant “true” oregano, Greek oregano is the one to plant. Oregano is a loose, open plant growing from six inches to two feet tall with gray-green leaves and small purple or white flowers. Common marjoram, often sold as wild oregano, is a hardy rampant growing perennial. It is more of an ornamental herb as it is considered to be inferior for use as a culinary herb.


Oregano can be grown from seed or cuttings. Seed propagated plants often do not come true from seed so it is suggested to obtain plants grown from cuttings. These cuttings are taken from plants with high flavor quality. If seeds are sown, place seeds on top of the growing media and press them into the surface. Do not cover the seeds as light is needed for germination. Keep moist. Oregano must be planted in a full sun location and good drainage is required for best growth and overwintering. True oregano is marginally hardy in zone 5. Many of the really desirable types are treated as tender perennials and may need to be brought indoors for the winter. To help insure winter survival a winter mulch of evergreen boughs or straw applied in November or December after the soil has frozen is helpful. This is then removed as growth resumes in the spring.


Harvesting can begin just before the plants are ready to flower. Remove the stem tips leaving 4-6 pairs of leaves on the plant in order for it to produce side shoots for additional harvesting. This will also help to make the plant become bushier and more compact. Allowing the plant to flower will reduce or stop growth completely. It also reduces the flavor of the leaves. Hang the cut stems in a cool, dry, dark well-ventilated location. After leaves are dry, they can be removed from the stems and stored in sealed containers.


Oregano is used in sauces, tomato dishes, pizza, Mexican dishes salads and soups.

Popular Varieties

  • ‘Profussion’ ® oregano – Very hardy, with an intense flavor.
  • Greek Oregano – True oregano, excellent flavor, hardy.

Other useful types but not as winter hardy. May have to be treated as a tender perennial or brought indoors for the winter.

  • Syrian Oregano (Oregano maru) – Strong, spicy flavor.
  • Turkestan Oregano (Oregano tyttanthum) – Strong flavor, robust plant, good for indoor culture.
  • Hopley’s Purple Oregano – Purple-green foliage, compact, mild flavor.
  • Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens) – Good oregano flavor used for chili and Mexican dishes.
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Herbs to Grow in Zone 5

herb garden image by Steve Lovegrove from

Herbs are plants used for culinary and other home uses such as sachets or safe household insect repellents. Several popular perennial herbs will thrive and overwinter in USDA hardiness zone 5—those regions of the United States where the average coldest winter temperature is between -20 and -10 degrees F. Certain tender perennials can also grow in zone 5 as container plants, and brought indoors in winter.


English lavender (Lavendula angustafolia) has been one of the most prized herbs around the world for centuries. Lavender is hardy through zone 5, according to the University of Colorado Extension Service. Lavender is available in numerous cultivars, each with slightly different growing habits, scent and color, but most lavenders have gray-green leaves and spiky purple flower stalks with a heavenly scent. Grow lavender for fresh or dried flowers; sachet material; and in perfumes, soaps, candles and wreaths. Lavender is also a culinary herb; the edible flowers can be added to cakes, iced tea and salads. Also, this plant looks beautiful in perennial flower beds.

Tea Herbs

In zone 5, herbs such as catnip, mint, lemon balm and horehound are grown for relaxing herbal teas, according to the Utah State University Extension. Chamomile also thrives in zone 5, and is hardy as far north as zone 3. Each of these tea herbs shares the characteristic of expansion, and can take over your garden if you do not exercise caution. Plant them in a sunken container to limit their wandering, or plant them to cover a bank or a corner of the yard that doesn’t have to be mowed. Cut the stalks of the tea herbs in early autumn, hang them in bundles to dry and strip the leaves off the stalks into air-tight containers for herbal tea all winter.

Culinary Herbs

North Dakota State University Extension’s list of the top 10 culinary herbs for growing in the northern plains region, located in hardiness zone 5 or colder, includes anise hyssop (a native member of the mint family), basil, chives, dill, oregano and tarragon. Basil is an annual to harvest before night temperatures dip below 40 degrees F; otherwise, a bitter taste is produced. Chives, oregano and tarragon will overwinter in zone 5 to return the next spring. Dill may be grown as an annual or allowed to seed itself in for resprouting the following year.

10 Herbs to plant in fall – in gardens and containers

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While spring is the traditional planting season for many garden plants, late summer and fall are also prime planting times for trees, shrubs, perennials, and herbs. Yes herbs! There are many herbs to plant in fall – annuals, biennials, and perennials. Here are ten culinary herbs to plant in your garden and containers this autumn.

While you can grow herbs from seeds, for fall planting, it’s quicker to buy healthy transplants from your local garden centre.

Annual herbs to plant in fall:

While many perennial herbs like thyme and oregano prefer well-drained soil that’s not overly fertile, the below annual herbs grow best when given compost and regular irrigation.

  • Parsley – Of all the herbs I grow in fall, parsley is the one that I use the most. I’m constantly clipping sprigs of my curly and flat-leaved parsley for salads, marinades, soups, and pastas. Parsley’s ease of cultivation and versatility in the kitchen make it a prime candidate for a list of herbs to plant in fall. I plant parsley in spring, but again in late summer and early autumn in my cold frames and polytunnel. Any plants left in the garden in late autumn are covered with a mini hoop tunnel before the hard frost arrives. Then, we can harvest homegrown parsley throughout late autumn and winter. Because parsley is a biennial, the plants begin to flower the following spring. At this point, I pull them up and toss them on the compost pile, but if you have the space, you can allow them to flower as the pollinators love the blooms.

Curly (pictured) and flat-leaved parsley are ideal herbs for fall planting. They love the cool temperatures and ample moisture found in the autumn garden.

  • Chervil – Chervil is one of my favorite annual herbs to grow in fall and winter – yes winter! I sow the seeds in early fall in a corner of one of my cold frames. By late autumn, the plants have filled that space and the cold-tolerant foliage is ready to be harvested all winter long, adding a licorice flavor to our food. Chervil foliage looks a lot like parsley, but with a slightly more delicate appearance. It’s very ornamental when planted in fall containers too. Get a jump-start by sowing the seed indoors under grow-lights in late summer, moving them outside to beds or pots in early autumn. Expect the plants to grow about a foot tall in a fall or winter garden, but in a spring or summer garden they can reach heights up to two-feet.
  • Cilantro – Love it or loathe it (I love it!), cilantro is a quick-growing herb with a pungent flavor essential in so many dishes. Because my spring-planted cilantro tends to bolt quickly, my best season for cilantro is autumn. Cilantro is partial to the short days and cooler temperatures of fall and won’t bolt as fast as it does in spring and summer. Sow the seeds in pots, window-boxes or garden beds from early to mid-autumn, harvesting often.

Cold-weather loving cilantro is either loved or loathed, but if you love it, consider planting seeds or seedlings in autumn when the plants are less likely to bolt.

Perennial herbs for fall planting:

While spring is the primary planting season, don’t overlook fall. The warm soil, cooler weather, and ample moisture help plants establish quickly and give you a head-start on the spring garden. When planting in fall, avoid adding fertilizer at planting time. A dose of nutrients late in the season can spur fresh growth which may then sustain winter damage. Instead, dig in some compost and plan to fertilize in early spring with a balanced organic herb fertilizer.

You can grow perennial herbs from seeds, but you’ll need to start them indoors under a grow-light at least eight to 10 weeks before moving them to the garden. It’s quicker and easier to buy healthy seedlings from your local nursery for fall planting. Use herb snips to harvest fresh herbs quickly and without damaging the plant.

  • Sage (hardy to zone 5) – I’ve been growing sage for over twenty years and while I don’t use it frequently in the kitchen, I’d never have a garden without it. Why? Sage is a beautiful plant with gray-green leaves but when it flowers in early summer, it also becomes a pollinator plant, attracting countless butterflies and bees to the garden. Sage is a woody shrub that grows two to three feet tall in my zone 5 garden. It can be susceptible to winter damage but covering the plant with evergreen boughs in late autumn helps insulate it over winter.

Fresh garden sage is fantastic in soups, pastas, and stuffings. But, it’s also an ideal perennial herb to plant in fall.

  • Thyme (hardy to zone 5) – Thyme is the perfect perennial herb for the edge of an herb garden. It’s low-growing and spreading, and is very drought tolerant. Its tiny flowers are extremely bee-friendly, and the leaves have a wonderful fragrance and flavor. Thyme plants are typically sold in four-inch pots and you’ll likely find a handful of types like lemon, lime, English, French, and common at your local garden centre.

Thyme is a low-growing evergreen shrub with tiny leaves that pack full flavor. Plant thyme in fall in a well-drained spot in full sun.

  • Marjoram (hardy to zone 7, 6 with protection) – This savory perennial herb is hardy to zone 7, but I have had luck overwintering it in my cold frames and polytunnel in my zone 5 garden. For those in zones 7 and up, this is one of the best herbs you can plant in fall. Just be sure to tuck it in beds by early to mid-autumn which gives it time to set roots before winter.
  • Chives (hardy to zone 3) – Chives are perhaps the easiest and most reliable perennial herb to grow. And, they’re on this list of herbs to plant in fall because they’re so easily dug up and divided to be shared and re-planted. The spiky, onion-flavored foliage adds pretty texture to an herb garden and in late spring the round purple flowers attract bees and other pollinators.

Greek oregano is one of my favorite culinary herbs. I harvest springs to dry from early summer through autumn, but we also enjoy it fresh all autumn from pots on our deck and the plants tucked along the edges of our raised garden beds.

  • Lavender (hardy to zone 5) – Lavender doesn’t just prefer well-drained soil, it demands it. Find a sunny site, like a raised bed, which drains well and won’t leave your lavender sitting in soggy soil. When planting lavender in fall, aim to plant six to eight weeks before the soil freezes so the plants have time to settle in. To protect the plant during its first winter, mulch in late autumn with evergreen boughs or a layer of straw.
  • Greek oregano (hardy to zone 5) – I grow several types of oregano in my gardens. Common oregano is reliably perennial and not only returns each year, but self-sows with abandon – be warned! Unfortunately, the flavor of common oregano is very faint and not ideal for the kitchen. For that reason I prefer to grow Greek oregano in my herb garden. While hardy to zone 5, it doesn’t always overwinter and so I find myself fall planting new seedlings every few years. Harvest often, drying the leaves for your herb cupboard or use fresh from the garden.

For urban gardeners with little to no space, you can plant a fall herb garden in pots on decks and balconies. Chives and oregano will provide flavorful foliage until late autumn.

  • Lemon balm (hardy to zone 4) – Related to mint, the lovely lemon-scented foliage of lemon balm makes it an essential herb for tea and sprinkling over fruit salads. However, it can be invasive so plant it only in an area where it can spread or put it in pots or fabric planters. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and is suited to fall planting. It loves rich, moist soil so water regularly if there has been no rain.

For more information on growing herbs, check out these posts:

  • The 7 best herbs for container gardening
  • Grow your own tea herbs
  • Grow herbs indoors on a sunny windowsill
  • Growing a culinary herb garden

Are you planting any herbs this fall?

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