Growing herbs in Florida

Material Information

Growing herbs in Florida
Series Title:
Extension vegetable crops mimeo report - Florida Agricultural Extension Service ; 67-1
Norton, Joseph D.
Stephens, James M.
University of Florida -- Agricultural Extension Service
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Florida Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
8 p. : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Herb gardening -- Florida ( lcsh )
Herbs ( jstor )
Seeds ( jstor )
Savory ( jstor )
bibliography ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (p. 8).
General Note:
Caption title.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Joseph D. Norton ; revised by James M. Stephens.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
433148262 ( OCLC )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text

Extension Vegetable Crops
Mimeo Report 67-1

Joseph D. Norton
Revised by
James M. Stephens
Assistant Vegetable Crops Specialists
University. of Florida

Most of the savory herbs can be grown throughout Florida in sufficient

quantities for home use. In the southern area of the state many herbs may be

grown in the home garden throughout the year. Because of their importance in

the preparation of foods in the home, no garden should be considered complete

without at least a few of those most commonly used. Herbs grown here do not

develop as strong aromatic flavor as in dry, western areas. There are

exceptions such as dill.

A great deal of interest and pleasure can be derived by the person who

plants a few well-chosen herbs for the first time, as he soon becomes familiar

with their forms and growth habits and learns to use them to best advantage in

seasoning the various foods.

Herbs are flavoring agents and, like spices, are used in cookery to

season, enrich, or otherwise alter the flavor and odor of certain foods to

make them more pleasing to the taste. Parts of the plants--leaves, fragrant

seeds, fruits, buds, barks, and roots--have been used for this purpose since

ancient times. Most of the spices--black pepper, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves,

and allspice--are derived from tropical plants. Savory herbs are aromatic plants,

the various parts of which possess pleasing odors and taste.



Common Name Scientific Name
Anise Pimpinella anisum
Basil Ocimum basilicum
Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium
Coriander Coriandrum satinum
Cumin Cuminum cyminum
Dill Anethum graveolens
Summer Savory Sateruja hortensis


Common Name Scientific Name
Caraway Carum carvi
Celery Apium graveolens
Parsley Petroselinum crispum


Common Name Scientific Name
Chive Allium schoenoprasum
Costmary Chrysanthemum majus
Fennel, common Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel, sweet F. vulgare var. dulce
Garlic Allium satinum
Lemon balm Melissa officinallis
Lovage Lervisticum officinale
Marjoram, sweet Origanum marjorana
Marjoram, pot Origanum onites
Marjoram, wild Origanum vulgare
Mint, spearmint Mentha spicata
Mint, peppermint Mentha piperita
Rosemary Rosmarimus officinallis
Sage Salvia officinallis
Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus
Thyme Thymus vulgaris
Winter savory Salureja montana


In addition to furnishing a variety of flavors for use in the kitchen, the

savory herbs, because of their ornamental appearance may be used to good advantage

in landscaping to add beauty and fragrance to the home surroundings. They can be

conveniently arranged in flower beds, borders and rock gardens, or assembled in a

small formal herb garden convenient to the kitchen.

If they are grown in rows in the vegetable garden, only a small section will

be required to produce enough for family use. The perennials and biennials come

up early in the spring in North and Central Florida and some of them bloom before

the annuals are planted. In South Florida herbs may be grown throughout the year.

If perennials and biennials are planted to one side of the garden, or if they are

planted in flower beds or rock gardens, they will not interfere with the preparation

of the garden soil for planting each season. The annuals may be seeded along with

other vegetables or they may be arranged in separate beds.

In general, one short row or only a few feet of row of each of the annuals

or half a dozen plants of the perennials will supply enough herbs for the average


Such plants as thyme, winter savory, and pot marjoram can be easily propagated

by layering, which merely consists of covering the side branches with soil, leaving

much of the top exposed. When the covered parts of the stems have rooted they can

be cut from the parent and set as individual plants.

Other plants such as chive, costmary, and tarragon, can be expanded by

dividing the crown clumps into separate bulbs, individual plants, or cloves after

one or more seasons' growth. This can be done in fall or early spring. These

subdivisions can be set directly in permanent locations if made in the spring or

in protected places, if made in the fall.

The mints spread rapidly by means of surface or underground runners that may

grow several feet from the parent plant, usually at a depth of 1 to 2 inches below

the surface. New plants spring up at the nodes of the runners during the season.

These plants, with roots attached, can be taken up and transplanted, or the runners

alone can be planted in rows and covered to a depth of 2 inches.


Herbs are not usually bothered by insects or diseases. Should they be, dust

or spray with malathion or sevin (insecticides) plus zineb, maneb, or copper



A few of the savory herbs can be grown fairly successfully indoors during the

winter in North Florida, provided favorable growing conditions can be maintained.

The annuals mature their fruits or seed and die at the end of the growing season.

They are not so easily grown Indoors during the winter as some of the perennials,

as chive, geranium, thyme, mint, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, and winter savory,

because new plants must be started from seed and this requires considerable care

and most favorable growing conditions.

For best results, start new plants in fall by means of rooted cuttings or by

crown or root divisions, rather than attempt to pot or move old plants indoors.

In order to make sufficient leaf growth for flavoring purposes during the winter,

these plants must have plenty of sunlight and a temperature maintained well above

freezing at all times.' The"annasl"and taprb6ted biennials that are to be

grown indoors in winter should be started from seed sown in outdoor beds

sufficiently early in the fall to allow the seedlings to become large enough.

for transplanting before frost. The perennials can be started as described

under propagation, either outdoors early in fall or later in plant beds or

window boxes.


The seeds, leaves, flowering tops, and'occasionally the roots of the

different plants are used for flavoring purposes. Their flavor is due for the

most part to a volatile or essential oil contained in leaves, seeds and fruits.

The flavor is retained longer if the herbs are harvested at the right time and

properly cured and stored. The young tender leaves can be gathered and used

fresh at any time during the season, but for winter use they should be harvested

when the plants begin to flower and should be dried rapidly in a well-ventilated,

darkened room. If the leaves are dusty or gritty, they should be washed in cold

water and thoroughly drained before drying.

The tender-leaf herbs--basil, costmary, tarragon, lemon balm, and the mints--

which have a high moisture content, must be dried rapidly away from the light

if they are to retain their green color. If dried too slowly, they will turn

dark and/or mold. For this reason a well-ventilated, darkened room, such as an

attic or other dry airy room, furnishes ideal conditions for curing these herbs

in a short time. The less succulent leaf herbs--sage, rosemary, thyme, and

summer savory--which contain less moisture, can be partially dried in the sun

without affecting their color, but too long exposure should be avoided.

The seed crops should be harvested when they are mature or when their color

changes from green to brown or gray. A few plants of the annual varieties should

be left undisturbed to flower and mature seed for planting each season. Seeds

should be thoroughly dry before storing, to prevent loss of viability for planting

and to prevent molding or loss of quality. After curing for several days in .an

airy room, a day or two in the sun will insure safekeeping.

As soon as the herb leaves or seed are dry they should be cleaned by

separating them from stems and other foreign matter and packed insuitable

containers to prevent loss of essential oils that give to herbs their delicate

flavor. Glass, metal or cardboard containers that can be closed tightly will

preserve the odor and flavor. Glass jars make satisfactory containers, but

they must be painted black or stored in a dark room to prevent bleaching of

the green leaves by light.


Seed and planting stock of the savory herbs can be obtained from a number

of established-herb gardens and seedsmen in various parts of the country. Some

dealers make a specialty of handling rooted plants, while others handle both

plants and seed. Usually the seed of the more common herbs--sage, dill, fennel,

parsley, celery, and chive--can be obtained from local seed houses, while the

less common ones probably can be purchased only from those specializing in

savory herbs.

The following are herb specialty houses from which you may obtain a catalog

of available herbs and/or herb seed. In addition, three brochures on growing

herbs may be obtained from your county agricultural extension office. They are:

(1) "Savory Herbs, Culture and Use," USDA F 1977, (2) "Growing Herbs in Florida,"

Extension Service Mimeo, and (3) "Herbs," Extension Service Circular 164.

Greene Herb Gardens Logee's Greenhouses
Greene, Rhode Island 55 North Street
Danielson, Conn.
The Tool Shed Herb Nursery
Turkey Hill Road Caprilands Herb Farm
Salem Center Silver Street
Purdys Station, New York Coventry, Conn. 06238

The Herb Cottage Cottage Herb Farm Shop
Washington Cathedral 311 State Street
Mt. St. Alban Albany, New York
Washington, D. C. 20016
Burgess Seed and Plant Company
Havalook Gardens Galesburg, Michigan 49053
10045 W. Grant River
Fowlerville, Michigan 48836

Sunnybrook Farms Nursery Reuter Seed Company, Inc.
9448 Mayfield Road New Orleans, La.
Chesterland, Ohio
1. Atlee Burpee Company
Merry Gardens Philadelphia, Pa. 19132
Camden, Maine 04843

The mentioned establishments are not endorsed here to the exclusion
of other establishments providing similar products.


1. "Herbs," Florida Agricultural Extension Service Circular
No. 164, April, 1957.

2. "Herbs for Florida," University of Florida Press Bulletin
No. 600, October, 1944.

3. "Savory Herbs, Culture and Use," United States Department
of Agriculture Farmers Bulletin No. 1977, May, 1946.

4. "Grow Your Own Vegetables," Florida State Department of
Agriculture Bulletin No. 52, April, 1957.

5. Various catalogs from herb specialty houses.

JMS: kh