is starting to show white on the leaves and look like
they are wilting (like the edges look dried out). I
recently trimmed the plant for the first time so I
didn't know if I trimmed it wrong or if maybe I didn't
allow my plant enough time to adjust to full sun
before planting outdoors. Also, a couple other herbs
just look dried out at the edges too & I water all of
my herbs every other day. What can I do to bring my
herb garden back to health? I've only had the plants
in transplanted a week so I am devastated. Could
really use some guidance. Thank you. AC
Your little plants
might just be a bit sun burnt if they went from a
grower's greenhouse to your garden. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, check out the article
How-To for information on how to take cuttings
from different plants. Also, rather than watering on a
set schedule, you want to water when the top 2 or 3
inches of the soil has dried out. Watering too often
can cause root rot.
I have been harvesting my
oregano plant. I've noticed tiny black
specks on the stems and the back of the leaves. I have
them on a paper towel and some are dropping off. Are
these bugs that have now rendered my oregano unedible?
Thank you. M
I've noticed this when
drying herbs too. Never did really figure out what it
is although I suspect it is bug droppings or just
plain dirt. Since it isn't alive and isn't on the
plant anymore, I didn't find it to be something to
Dear Pinch, "Fall" is here in
Phoenix, meaning temperatures are finally dropping
into the upper 90s. An infestation of some sort has
moved into my container garden. My basil plant is
affected the most, but also my Tecoma hybrids, and my
rose plants. Whomever the culprits are, they are
leaving behind tiny black balls, holes in the leaves,
and also some leaves are transparent, like the life
has been sucked out of them. They are almost
spider-web like (imagine a leaf without the green with
tiny black balls on it). At first I thought maybe
aphids because ants are on these plants too, but with
the leaf holes I thought it could be a caterpillar,
specifically a 'leaf skeletonizer caterpillar' for the
Tecoma's, but not sure if those would affect the
basil. So, my basil plant went from lush, providing
great meals, to almost inedible in a matter of a few
weeks. I have been spraying Organicide, not sure if
that is helping, but it definitely isn't solving the
problem. Any ideas? Regards, KD
Japanese beetles are
often a culprit in skeletonized leaves, but you don't
seem to have those in Arizona so I would guess it is
some sort of caterpillar at work. Your best bet for
determining what kind would be to catch one. If you
aren't seeing them during the daytime, try going out
after dark with a flashlight. Once you know what they
look like you should be able to identify them and how
to fight back. Bear in mind, some caterpillars turn
into lovely butterflies.
I am growing a pot of basil
outside and a couple of weeks ago noticed a small (
about 2mm) gold coloured beetle on one of the leaves.
after searching online I came to the conclusion that
it was a golden tortoise beetle
that may have strayed
and landed on a random plant. looks very similar in
shape to a ladybird but smaller and gold (shiny). but
a few days ago noticed about 20 of them all over the
plant but mainly on the leaves. but the golden
tortoise beetle lives and eats morning glory leaves
(which i don't have in the garden). and now i am
unsure, they range from gold to a brass colour. they
don't move at all and been in the same place since
discovering them and don't seem to have caused any
damage either. I am stumped as to what these bugs are
and would appreciate an insight into these pretty bugs
Wow! I did a Google Images
search and they are really cool. I can't tell you much
more than you already know since I'd never heard of
these beetles. They don't seem to be a cause for alarm
or any action since they aren't damaging the plant.
Apparently they are somewhat rare. You might want to
call your local agriculture office or visit a Master
Gardeners' clinic to find out if they are a threat in
your particular area.
I have a young
chive plant that
has small black pods on the tips of some of the stems. I
have no Idea what they are. Help. Thanks KCR
My first thought is that
your plant is about to bloom. Chive flower buds are
usually pink or purple, though, so it may be some sort
of insect. I suggest you take it to a garden center or
your local Master Gardeners' office for an
I was looking over some
thyme that I planted a few months ago and noticed
that a couple of the thicker sprigs have begun rooting.
They look almost
runners, but I can't find any mention of the
plant doing this normally. The thyme shares a raised bed
with several other herbs; it's already about 18 inches
across and I'm worried it might crowd the other plants
out if it spreads much further. Should I transplant
these "runners" elsewhere, or do you think the plant
will more or less stay put? Thanks. CP
I don't think your plant
will get much bigger than it is. I've noticed that my
thyme has a tendency to root this way as well. You could
snip them off and transplant if you want, otherwise
you'll have two plants side by side.
trees. How do we dry them? MB
After you make absolute
sure that you have an edible juniper, some are
poisonous, and you have read "All
About Juniper Berries," to make sure you are able to
eat them, the best way to dry the ripened berries would
be to spread them out on a screen and allow them to dry
in the sun. The screen is for good air circulation so be
sure to put it in a spot where the air can circulate.
Hello Apinchof, I need to have
some knowledge about
growing thyme here in my country
because I am desperately want to use it as fresh. I have
small thyme here from seeds and it grow about 5 inches.
But when I take it out around 8 in the morning it
suddenly wilted a little bit and under its leaf
displayed a purple color. Is it because its very humid
here in the Philippines? If i place it in a shady part
of my garden, is it okay? And I am also concerned about
the rainy days here.. what should i do? Hoping for your
reply and I love your site so much. Thanks Truly, EC
I really enjoy fresh thyme
too. Sometimes plants need to be "hardened off" as they
transition from an early life indoors to an outdoor
environment. If it's not too late you can do this by
exposing it to just a bit more, say half an hour, of sun
each day. Thyme likes full sun and not too much water.
It needs to be in a pot of sandy soil with good
drainage. If possible you might want to put it in a
place where it gets plenty of sunshine but is protected
from the rains.
chives rosemary and mint, please advise, thanks
for your great information. CM
It's the rosemary you'll
need to worry about in this mix. The other three plants
like more water than rosemary does so watch that it
doesn't get "wet feet."
Hello, I'm American but reside in
blueberries grow in SAND? Also, I'd love to plant
coriander, basil, mint, etc, will they thrive in sand?
What spices would you recommend for such soil? Many
Most plants enjoy a sandy
loam so if you work some compost into the sand you will
probably have more success than straight sand. I think
you would better try woody herbs like rosemary or
tarragon, even lavender, rather than the tender leaf
ones you mention. It certainly couldn't hurt to try to
grow whatever you want. If they fail, then you'll know.
The cookbook is now available
for purchase! To find out more about it as well as take advantage
of special website pricing ($8 off--use discount code U9KGY74Z)
Spiced Right e-store at CreateSpace.
Can you tell me what would
off basil plants about 1/4" above the soil, but not eat
the plant? My basil plants were doing wonderfully one
day and the next they were lying on the ground! This
also happened to to my cilantro plant and four small vitex plants - but the entire plants went missing. These
plants are all potted. It looks like they were cut with
a razor. Thanks! NM Great website!
Sounds like the work of
cutworms, however, I'm surprised that they would be in a
potted plant. Do some research on the subject and if you
agree, you might want to treat or discard that soil as
they pupate in soil so they are probably still in there.
Hi, I just discovered your site,
and info was so helpful I thought I’d give another try.
This may not be you area of expertise, but I have not
had good results
growing catnip, in or outdoors. Can you offer any
suggestions? thanks! SS
I haven't grown catnip
myself so I checked a few of my resources to see if
anything unusual stood out regarding care. I didn't find
any special requirements for this sort of mint except
that it likes well-drained soil and a sunny location.
One source did state it is much easier to grow from
transplants rather than sowing the seed.
I didn't see anything like this
in your posts, but there were so many I may have skipped
one. Any who...I have an indoor herb garden set up in an
aqua ponics system. My lavander
plant is thriving and so
was the rosemary but it is bending over at the top and
the bottom leaves are browning and falling off. I don't
have lights just the front window. Is my plant not
getting enough light or is it the aquaponics? TPK
Full disclosure, I know
nothing about this interesting subject of aquaponics. My
first thought about your rosemary is that it wouldn't
like being grown in water. After browsing the web, seems
like plenty of people out there are growing rosemary in
an aquaponic environment. You would probably find much
more authoritative answers by taking your question to
one of the public forums like
last year in my container herb garden, but was a bit
disappointed with the flavor. It did not smell as strong
as the dried (compared, for instance, to the thyme which
smells amazing). Are there certain varieties of oregano
plants to look for which might be more fragrant and more
Many people prefer the
taste of dried oregano to the fresh leaves. As an herb
dries, the essential oils become concentrated--that's
why we use less of the dried herb than fresh. I suggest
you look into growing marjoram. It is a cousin of
oregano that is much more pleasant to use fresh. See "All
About Marjoram" if it is unfamiliar to you.
leaves look yellow and green, but there are some
brown stuff that looks like seeds. Are these seeds? When
should I remove the seeds if these are seeds. Can I
plant them and get more trees? They look brown. B
Sounds like your plant is
nearing the end of its life cycle. You don't say if they
flowered but seeds are the natural progression after
flowering. You can, indeed, plant these seeds to get a
new crop. They are also a delicious seasoning. Allow
them to dry on the plant and then hold a paper bag or
plate under them before snipping off the "dill head."
This summer my herb garden
became infested with
small black bugs
- they look like
poppy seeds. I picked some Rosemary yesterday, in the
ice and snow and was surprised to see they were very
much alive! Help! EB
Are you sure they are alive?
Generally, things on plants that look like poppy seeds
are droppings from bugs like caterpillars. If you are
sure they are insects, you might try plugging "small
black bugs" into the Google Image function to see if you
find something that matches them in appearance. Once
identified, you can learn how to deal with them.
I am “harvesting” juniper
berries from a large, older tree in our yard and plan to
make a juniper tincture for culinary use. I am concerned
whether I may use all of the berries I’ve collected or
should limit my selection to the larger, blue berries,
rather than including the smaller green berries in the
mix. Thanks for your assistance. RKD
You will want to harvest
only those berries that are ripe. Be sure to read "All
About Juniper Berries," if you haven't already as
there are particular medical conditions that make the
I saw a question on your page
leaves and darkening of the stem, which you
answered could be 'wilt', an incurable fungal disease.
This has happened to every herb I've grown, and I grow
them all from seeds. Is there any way to prevent this in
the first place? ST
Often this is a soil-borne
problem so you would want to start with fresh soil. Use
a seed sprouting mix at the beginning to get your plants
off to the best start. You can also look for resistant
varieties of seeds as well.
I am trying to grow
plants along side my Oregano. Both have spread
out as a ground hugging plant. Yet I have read oregano
gets tall, and mine just spreads. Today I see that some
plants are flowering. Have I waited too long to harvest?
Can you make an herbal oil out of some herbs? Thank you
for your time. I am really a novice at this! JD
You have learned the
lesson that different plant varieties have different
growth habits. Oregano is a notorious spreading plant,
but some varieties also grow tall. You can still harvest
the oregano with flowers. We talk about making herb oils
on the Cooking Q&A Page.
I dry my thyme from my garden. Can
you tell me if it is
okay to dry
thyme after it has developed flowers on it. Does
it make a difference in the over all flavor? EH
it is best to harvest herbs before they flower because
the essential oils in the leaves are more intense, I
think it is okay to dry it after flowering. Might even
be kind of pretty.
Good Afternoon, I came across
your website looking for information about planting a
Herb Garden. I am going to have 3 ~ 2’x8’ raised beds
for both herbs & vegetables. Where can I find info about
what herbs go/should be planted next to one another or
what herbs should not be planted next to one another
too? Also recommendations for herbs to intersperse with
vegetables. This is my first try at herb gardening and
all this has been brought on by my granddaughter who has
never had a garden.
Any other suggestions or references to other sites for
information is most welcome and appreciated. DA
The most important
consideration for planting your beds is the water needs
of the plants. Annuals, like basil and chile peppers,
require more water than established perennials like
tarragon and rosemary. I suggest you plant one bed as a
permanent herb garden and then use the other two for
vegetables and annual herbs. See the article "Herb
Harvesting How-To," as well as many other articles
about growing herbs on this site. Seeds of Change
this wonderful article about Companion planting.
Love your web site! Found it
while the TV was off due to weather; which is part of my
question. I live in zone 6. As an avid cook, nothing
beats fresh herbs. After a bad first attempt I raised
the bed six inches, that really helped. I grow
completely organic. My question is: any idea, other than
five gallon buckets, to
keep parsley from getting beat
down by heavy rain, which we are prone to? Thanks, JB
The only thing I can come up
with short of an umbrella would be to offer your parsley
some support in the way of staking and tying. The more I
think about the umbrella, however, the more I think that
might work. You could find an old one and sink the
handle into the garden, then when the rain starts, just
open it. Hmmm...
Like many cooks, I also garden. I
want to grow my
own sumac, but can't find a source for viable
seeds for the edible variety. Don't know if it will grow
here in coastal Oregon, but other sumacs do, so I'd like
to try. Can you help me? AB
It's a good idea, however,
I sure couldn't find any sources for the seeds or
plants. You might want to contact a nursery that
specializes in rare and unusual plants to see if they
could help you find Rhuscoriaria seeds.
Nichols Garden Nursery is in Oregon and could be a
good place to start.
basil and rosemary be grown
together in the same bed? DW
Basil will need a bit more
water than rosemary and rosemary doesn't like "wet
feet." If you keep this in mind when watering the bed,
they should be fine together.
Hi, I have grown basil for
years and always put up huge amounts of pesto. Last
summer and this I have had big problems with
grasshoppers attacking the plants. The two solutions I
have read about are
floating row covers and neem oil
spray. Is neem oil really safe to eat and would it
affect the flavor of the basil at all? What would you
recommend? I have about 30 plants and it is early in the
season and the grasshoppers are already at it. Thank
Although neem oil is
supposedly safe, I think I would go with the floating
row covers. Neem oil works systematically, meaning it
goes into the roots and throughout the plant, and that
just seems icky to me in pesto. One thing to note,
grasshoppers lay eggs in the soil that overwinter and
then hatch in the spring. You might want to cultivate
the soil well in the fall to kill the eggs and perhaps
prevent them from turning up next year.
Hi. I live in Canada in Kingston,
Ontario (Thousand Island region). I think we are in the
zone 5 region. I took a chance on planting an herb
garden last late, late spring. Our chives have been
extremely hardy over the last 10 years, so I thought
perhaps I could get lucky with other herbs. Also, I love
to cook from scratch and try to use only fresh
ingredients, including fresh herbs. Therefore, I was
motivated by the off chance I could
cultivate an herb
garden. The basil was tremendous, the thyme not so bad,
the rosemary so, so to not bad. Now after reading your
helpful responses to other gardeners mostly living in
hardier sunny climes in the U.S. I was convinced you
could give me some basic skills to continue my herb
garden. For example: What do I do now this Spring with
the dried out plants that have suffered a fairly cold
winter? Do I pull out these out root and all? or will
they self propagate like the chives. The chives, as
expected are flourishing beautifully. But the herbs as
mentioned above are well looking extremely sad. I have
already planted a new crop of rosemary, basil, etc. in
my makeshift indoor garden and they are coming along
well indeed. I am very excited. So I went out to prepare
the garden to transplant my little seedling but was
confronted with last years dried out crop. Help! What
should I do? Thanks ever so much. DO
You will definitely need
a new basil plant since that is an annual. You could
wait to see if the thyme starts putting out new leaves
(the rosemary should be evergreen so it's probably done)
but since you have new plants at the ready I think I
would just yank out the old ones rootball and all and
transplant your new herbs.
Hello, I recently planted a
small herb garden consisting of Italian basil, oregano
and garlic chives. For about a week now, I have noticed
quite a few small black flies in the garden and holes in
and cutouts in the basil leaves. Any idea what these
flies are? They are not around the basil (at least
during the day). Thanks. KH
The pest you see and the
damage you see are likely unrelated. Without more
information it is hard to say what the flies might
be but I would guess you have some snails and/or
slugs munching at your basil.
I overwatered my
lavender and the
stems have gotten “woody”. I have tried to let it
dry out and cut the really droopy part away. The other
part looked perky and then it started to droop too. What
should I do? It is in a container with shells about 1.5
“ thick on the bottom for drainage. Thank you! BM
Lavender is a plant that
is considered a "sub-shrub" so its nature is to get
somewhat woody as time passes. You may need to prune
your plant in order to reinvigorate it. Find out how and
see other tip for growing lavender near the bottom of
the "Lavender List
Hello, I would like to know how I
can trim my purple sage? It is way too big and high for
my small garden. JG
You can trim it like you
would a shrub. Make your cuts at a spot on the stems
just above a leaf pair and consider the shape of the
entire plant as you go. Find out more at the article "Herb
This spring I bought a small plant
Coriander from a local garden centre and potted
it up. I’ve used it in a few recipes – I find it suits
the stronger tasting meal components really, such as
Guajarati vegetables as an accompaniment to Asian meals.
A feature of the herb is that it very quickly droops
when dry – it’s a very good indication of when I’ve been
a little lax in watering my herb pots! Can anyone tell
me if this herb can be overwintered outside, or do I
need to bring it indoors? Great website – a new herb
grower I fully appreciate the help it gives. RS
I wasn't familiar with
Thai coriander but when I Googled it I discovered that I
know it as culantro. The botanical name is Eryngiumfoetidum but it is known around the world by many
names. You don't say where you live but unless it stays
quite warm you will probably want to bring it indoors.
This is a tropical biennial plant, meaning that it will
grow the foliage one year and the next it will produce
flowers. Upon flowering, you will want to save some
seeds for your next crop.
I let my
dill go to seed,
but I'd like to still use and/or preserve it. I brought
it in and rubbed the seed off the heads. It appears to
be a flat seed. Is that too dried out, or is that what
dill seed is? It looks kind of like a husk of something
rather than a whole round seed. Maybe it's too far gone?
Thank you in advance. Recently
I discovered black droppings
(?) slightly larger than
but just as hard near my "herb garden" on my windowsill
in New York City. They're all doing great. I have
lavender, basil, rosemary, lemon balm, sage and thyme.
Something tells me lemon balm might be somehow the
culprit as the seeds always collect near that one, but
I'm not sure.
Any hints? Many thanks again for your time. EB
Black droppings on plants
are often just what they look like. Droppings from some
sort of an insect. Since all your plants are doing well
and you don't see any damage it's hard to tell what it
might be. Just to check on your lemon balm theory, I
went out and shook some of my branches that are in full
bloom. Nothing resembling seeds or otherwise fell into
my waiting hand.
I grow lavender in my yard and
would like to use it in cooking.
Which part of the plant
should I use when the recipe calls for lavender? Must it
be dried first or may I use it fresh like I do my other
It's the flower buds that
recipes are looking for. Please see the article "All
About Lavender" for more information.
Hi, I am just wondering
grows well with? Thanks BA
Oregano would grow well with
the other Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme and
tarragon. It is my experience that it just grows well
any place you put it.
Dear A Pinch of webmaster, I
was looking up an answer to a question I had, thank you
it was informative. In doing so, I came across an
inquiry into a bug described as two long, skinny,
brownish, grasshopper shaped bugs no larger than 1/4"
long on the plant with small water droplets coming from
their ends. This sounds to be
sharpshooters,Homolodisca coagulate. Without
knowing the location, this is a speculative guess. These
have been seen in states like Texas, Florida and
California. The water droplets, are in fact excrement,
called honeydew. Have a great day. Kind regards, RV
Thanks for the information!
Thanks so much for your website. I
live in northeastern San Diego County. Our area does get
hot in summers and colder in the winters. I have tried
to grow cilantro
(which I love) but my plants sprout and
go right to seed.
So with that in mind, how do you harvest the seeds and
then use them in recipes?
I have the same problem
with growing dill. Once the seed heads have started to
turn brown, hold a paper bag under them and snip off the
entire head. Allow them to dry completely in the bag and
then you can separate the seeds easily. You can use them
whole or ground in recipes. See the article "All
herb garden. I recognize the leaves at the bottom as the
ones I want to chop up for fresh cilantro. However, I'm
not sure how to trim and maintain the entire plant in my
garden. It has grown tall and lanky. Do I let it
continue to grow. It seems to have less of the larger
leaves at the bottom and very stemy and smaller
different types of leaves at the top, along with the
coriander seeds. I want to maintain the plant to get the
fresh leaves for cooking. How best to I maintain the
plant in my garden. Do I trim it? Do I let it grow? Do I
cut the tops off to make it thicken up instead of being
so tall and lanky? LS
Cilantro should be harvested
by snipping the stems about two or three inches from the
ground. This will encourage more growth from the base.
It is an annual with a fairly short life-span but you
can extend its season a bit if you trim back the flower
shoots as they form.
Can I plant
purchased from the spices section of the grocery
Generally this isn't a good
idea because the seeds may be irradiated and won't grow.
The same goes for eating seeds that are sold for
planting since they may have some sort of coating like a
fertilizer or sterilization solution on them.
My potted lavender plant is
covered in white
silk nests & there are bright green with pale
white or pale green stripes hatching on them & killing
my plant. As best as I can determine from researching
these insects, they look like the tomato hornworm. It
has turned half my previously healthy pant brown & limp
in a couple of days. How do I get rid of these & can the
plant be saved or should I toss it to avoid them
spreading on to the rest of my plants? The pot is on one
side of my patio steps away from the other pots & ground
plants by about 3 feet (to the closet other pot which is
also lavender). I sprayed it with what little organic
pest spray I had left & soap & water but need to know
what to get to finish them off & keep them from
returning? I need something that will not harm my pets
or the beneficial bees, butterflies & birds in my
garden. Help! DD
I've read through most of the of
previous questions, but none seems to apply to me, so
here goes: I have a
basil plant that's in a large window box in full
sun with oregano and parsley. When it was about 10
inches, the leaves started
color and just started to look very unhealthy. I
noticed what appears to be spores - short white stalk
with black tips - on the undersides. I've sprayed with
dish soap/water mix and when that did not produce
results after two weeks I tried a general anti-fungal
for veggies that I had. This also has not helped. The
stems of the plants look great and there's even new
growth happening where these diseased leaves have fallen
off.... I'm so proud that's I've been able to keep all
the other herbs I purchased alive, but I'm sad over this
pathetic looking specimen. Thanks for your help and for
everything else I learned while researching this issue
on your site. DM
As you can see, it
doesn't help very much to treat a problem until you know
what it is. The soap and water may be effective on bugs
and anti-fungals on fungus but if that's not the cause,
they won't do a thing. This sounds rather unusual to me
so it would be helpful to see the plant. I suggest you
take a few of the affected leaves back to the nursery
where you bought it and see if they can help you
diagnose the situation.
I received a planter for Christmas
with 4 herbs in it. The
suddenly become leggy and yellow. Why would this
be? It is indoor in my kitchen which is well lit. I have
not had them directly by the window to protect them from
Growing tall, or leggy, is a
sign of the plant reaching out for light and yellow
leaves may indicate too much water. You might be able to
revive the plant by snipping all of the affected leaves
back to the base of the plant.
We live in Florida and have found
caterpillars eating and leaving their diode on
our basil and
parsley have sprayed with insecticide soap and it
has not worked any advice......... thanks for your help.
This is a good example of
why we must identify the pest before we spray anything.
Different chemicals take care of different bugs. Another
important reason is that you might end up killing bugs
that are actually beneficial to the garden.
Identification is difficult and time consuming
sometimes. You could look over the
Insect Identification.org website but your best bet
might be to capture a couple of the culprits and take
them into your local Master Gardener's office.
Sir/madam, We have a
in our house. We find that there are lot of new
particles stuck beneath the leaves and white particles
flying. We are able to understand that it is some kind
of Infection. Could you suggest what it could be?
Suggest remedial measures to cure the same. There are
also a lemon plant and some flowering ornamental plants
which we fear may pick up the infection. VSS
First I must confess, I
don't know what a Goa plant is and can't find it on the
Internet. Secondly, it is very difficult to know which
white insect this might be so I cannot correctly
identify without a visual cue. I can, however, suggest
that the problem might be solved with something as
simple as giving your plant a nice shower. Spray it with
as strong a stream of water as possible. If this doesn't
take care of your problem, you might want to contact a
local expert who can better identify the pest.
Meanwhile, you are correct to worry about the other
plants. It's best to isolate the affected one until the
problem is solved.
basil are dying at the end of the season (I grew
them outside and they did wonderfully). I'd like to
start growing some
inside for the
winter. Can I grow some plants from the flowers,
or would I have to use a clipping? I've got some dried
flower pods from both plants, will these produce seeds
for me to use for growing new plants? Love the Q&A by
the way, I'm a newbie, and this site is amazing! DD
Glad you like the site! You
don't say where you live but the oregano might be able
to make it through the winter. My own plant keeps going
all year around so that I can always harvest fresh
oregano. You could take a cutting to root in water just
to be sure. The basil is an annual so it will be
finished. You could try planting the seeds from your
flower heads--sometimes this works but other times the
seeds are some sort of hybrid and the new plant may not
be what you expect.
Hello-- I have
curry. It is now flowering. I would love to know
how to cook with this! I have used dried curry powder
but never fresh. Thanks, BJ
Oh dear, I'm sorry to
say, you have not grown the equivalent of curry powder.
Your curry plant, known botanically as Helichrysumitaliacum, takes its name from the fragrance but
curry powder is a combination of many spices. You can
use your plant as an herb. Some say it has a particular
affinity for eggs. Incidentally, the curry leaf herb,
Murraya koenigii, is not from this plant and is also
not a component of curry powder. Find out more at "All
About Curry Powder."
Hi, I'm not sure if this question
has been asked before or not, but I have a collection of
about 20 various herbs that I have been growing outside
in pots all summer and I am looking for a natural way to
before moving them indoors. Thank you for your
Interesting question. I
always just move my pots to the garage so I haven't
worried about debugging them but I do see your point.
The best way to prepare the plants themselves is to
spray them with a strong blast of water. This will kill
any aphids and, hopefully, wash away any others. There
may be bugs in the pots, however, that would be more
difficult to spot and deal with. I think I would try to
isolate the pots in a bathtub or laundry room for awhile
to see if anything crops up.
Hi I live in the Philippines
and started my own little herb garden. Basil was my
beginner's choice because of all the wonderful sunshine
we get. The first three months produced gorgeous green
leafy plants, after which decided to propagate via
cuttings. Problem is that a week
after I pruned,
problems started to occur. Wilted and leaves (I made
sure I didn't over-prune and left more than half of the
leaves on the original plant, pests chewing the leaves,
brown streaks on the leaves, and little light brown
bumpy things growing at
the nodes of most of my plants! HELP!!! Did I kill my
plants, or introduce diseases when I pruned them? or was
it just a sad, sad coincidence :-( VB
Sounds like your clippers
need a cleaning. It is highly possible to pass a problem
from one plant onto another. The bugs probably moved in
after the plant became stressed. I wonder how the
clippings that you took fared?
Hi, just looked at your website.
Great. Are all
varieties of sage edible??? We have a huge plant
in our backyard, but I haven’t been able to find out if
it is edible. Maybe, you can help me. OH
Not all varieties are
edible. Your best bet is to take a clipping from the
plant to a local nursery or a master gardener at your
local extension office. They should be able to identify
the type of plant and tell you if it is edible.
Hello, I am growing husky
tomatoes in a large pot on my balcony. It gets
lots of afternoon sun and I water it regularly. The
plant is producing lots of tomatoes and new growth but
some of the older leaves and some new are turning brown
and shriveling up (not dry and crunchy). Do you know
what this is and if it can be fixed? Thanks for your
Tomatoes aren't my specialty
and I couldn't find any answers in the sources I
checked. Pull a couple of the problem leaves from the
plant and take them to a local nursery or a master
gardener at your local extension office for a diagnosis.
Can you grow
peppercorns in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina?
I would really like to start a little herb and spice
garden and my husband like fresh cracked pepper, so I
thought I would start with peppercorns. KG
Well now, wouldn't that
just be fun! Given your climate you might just be able
to do it. I think the biggest hurdle would be getting ahold of the plants. You could contact the folks at the
Miami-Dade County Fruit and Spice Park to see if
they know where you could obtain the vine. If you did
grow them you will have to learn how to dry the berries
so that they can make their way into the pepper mill.
Let us know how it goes!
Hi there, I have many herbs
planted, and they've all been doing wonderfully since
January or so. (I live in central Florida.) It's now
late June, we have had just a ton of rain, (after a big
drought) and all
my herbs have gotten "wet feet" and begun rotting
from beneath. They all looked wonderful until the rains
came. I am growing marjoram, flat leaf parsley, borage,
basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, lavender, chives &
spearmint. My curly young curly parsley and chamomile
died completely. I would like to salvage the others if
possible. Should I cut them back? They still look and
taste great at the tips, but many of the root ends are
now black. Is there any hope of saving them? And do you
have any recommendations on how I could prevent this
from happening next year? Would individual containers be
better? (Right now they're all directly in the ground.)
Thank you so much!! CG
In my experience, herbs grow
better in the ground but as you have seen they are at
the mercy of the weather. Most herbs originate from the
dry rocky soils around the Mediterranean so a monsoon is
not what they like. Chances are good, however, that your
plants will recover once things dry out. Keep an eye on
them, trim away the dead parts and snip them for cooking
as you normally would. As for next year, you might
consider making some sort of a shelter, sort of like a
tent or something, to give them a bit of a break during
the rainy season.
Hi there....I love your site. I
live in San Marcos, Texas, and
we have had tons of
rain...very unusual...and my rosemary plants (huge) are
dying in pieces...some stems are okay, but others are
dead and gone. there are signs around the bottom..of
some sort of white mold and mildew with lots of pill
bugs working. I had originally put cedar mulch around
them, but now I am removing it as I think maybe it is
holding in too much moisture...I also have a huge cenizo
or purple sage that is suffering from the same malady.
any help would be greatly appreciated. thanks so much
for all that you do. BW
Sorry to hear about your
plants. Hopefully as the weather dries out they will
recover. You have done the right thing in pulling back
the mulch and the pill bugs might be helping to process
some of the decaying material. For now, prune off the
dead stems and get rid of any debris at the base of the
plants. You might even want to try to scrape off the
mold and mildew and add some fresh garden soil to the
Hi. I reached your site by
searching on 'remedy for
mildew on lavender au', but I
couldn't find this reference on your site. Could you
describe a lavender plant affected by mildew and perhaps
provide an remedy please? A friend has some 30 plants in
a row in her new garden which have only been in the
ground for 18 months. She describes them as 'going
woody.' Her garden is on the south coast of NSW &
we have had a lot of humidity
this last summer. Thank you very much, RE
There are two types of
mildew, downy and powdery. Downy mildew is usually white
and fluffy appearing under the leaves while powdery
mildew is greyish and on the surface of the leaves. The
remedies differ so check with a local garden center for
what is available in your area. Prevention of both types
is to get resistant cultivars and make sure the plants
have good air circulation. As for "going woody," that is
the nature of an unpruned lavender plant. See more
growing tips, including pruning, at the bottom of the "Lavender
Hi, I recently started a
container herb garden in my kitchen. I have oregano,
thyme, basil, parsley and sage. I am using an artificial
light b/c my kitchen doesn't get the best light. Four of
the plants are thriving and smelling great. But I am on
my second oregano plant and it's dying just like the
first one did. I'm keeping the soil moist and it gets
the same amount of light as the others. What gives?
Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, LC
The ladies who wrote
The Bountiful Container
say this about growing oregano: "It struggles in long
periods of cool and rainy weather, and in areas with
high humidity (humid weather or poor air circulation
around the containers encourages disfiguring fungal
Hi, The mint, peppermint and lemon
balm plants looked so lovely in their pots, getting new
beautiful leaves everyday, that is, until those
worms showed up and started chomping every good
leaf away and hardly leaving anything for me; there seem
to be whole families of them…. L. Any suggestions what I
can do to get rid of them nasty creatures??? Since my
cats are allowed to go out into the patio there aren't
many "killing agents" I could use. Also, I have tried
several sorts but nothing helped so far. Thanks for your
time and blessings from the Holy Land. G
It is important to
identify the bug before treatment because different
pests require different methods. That said, I found sort
of an interesting idea that sounds harmless in "The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control: A Complete Problem-Solving Guide to Keeping Your Garden and Yard Healthy Without Chemicals."
It is a recipe for an all-purpose Insect Pest Spray. It
goes as follows: Chop, grind, or liquefy 1 garlic bulb
(not just a clove) and 1 small onion. Add 1 teaspoon of
powdered cayenne pepper and mix with 1 quart of water.
Steep 1 hour, strain through cheesecloth, then add 1
tablespoon of liquid dish soap to the strained liquid;
mix well. Spray your plants thoroughly, being sure to
cover the undersides of the leaves. Store the mixture
for up to 1 week in a labeled, covered container in the
refrigerator. The authors suggest this for any
leaf-eating garden pests and caution to keep the mixture
away from your eyes and nose and to wear rubber gloves
to prevent burning.
an herb garden and my basil & parsley are doing
particularly well. I found your article on preserving
basil, but haven't really seen anything on parsley.
Actually, I've planted several herbs and they are all
doing fine, right now those are my best. I'm going
to start rosemary & oregano next weekend. Do you have a
book or anything that will help guide me in the best
ways to preserve what I'm growing? I don't want to have
to keep looking it up on a website. I would
greatly appreciate any inspiration you can give me as
this is my first attempt. Thank you, IA
I would like to
start a “new”
rosemary plant from a clipping from my existing plant.
When is the best time to do so, what type soil to use
and how big of a clipping should I use? I am in SOUTH
Georgia. Thanks so much, dv.
Hello, About a month ago I
started trying to
grow dill and basil using a Chia herb
kit that I received. The basil is doing fine, but the
dill is falling over on itself--the stalks are very thin
and fragile looking, and there are barely any leaves.
What should I do to save my plant? Thank you! LMC
It's important that dill has
fairly deep soil, say 10 to 12 inches, because it has a
long taproot. You might try snipping back the main stem
and see if that helps it bush out. Make sure it is
getting plenty of sun, too, since the seedlings may be
growing long to seek out light.
hello and thanks in advance for
What herbs and or spices are out there that have more
than one FORM used example cilantro leaves and coriander
seed.......... would love to know of more of these!
interesting to know.... useful when planting to get a
double harvest from the same plant!! thanks again.......
I've actually been knocking
this idea around as the subject of an article. I, too,
like the idea of the double harvest. Other herbs/spice
combos are dill weed and seed; borage for the young
leaves and flowers; mustard, in theory, although I
haven't tried it. I'll keep working on other ideas.
Hi! I live in Las Vegas and don't
have many bugs, but I'm starting to have these
bugs on my jalapeno plants. I don't like to use
pesticides since I want to eat the peppers, are there
any pesticides you suggest? They're tiny white bugs that
stick to the stems of the plant. It doesn't look like
they're bothering the actual fruit, but I don't like to
see them there. Thanks! S
introduces an important point that gardeners should
ponder. The white bugs are not bothering the
fruit--could they actually be protecting it? You say
you don't like to use pesticides yet you are willing
to because you don't like to see the bugs. I used to
feel the same way, bugs are bad, but in the last
couple of years I have come to realize that I don't
want chemicals in my garden. Bugs are a part of the
natural cycle of things, some of them help keep my
plants healthy by preying on the ones that do damage.
When we spray indiscriminately, as a first resort
rather than a last resort, we kill the good guys as
well as the bad guys. I want to encourage you and all
of our herb gardening friends to learn more about
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, as a new way of
looking at the way we care for our plants (especially
those we are going to eat!). Start with
this bulletin from the EPA.
How do I know when my rosemary and lavender are dead? I bought 2 small plants in 6" pots and they thrived all summer and were really growing. Suddenly I notice they are very dry and woody even though I water them regularly. In frustration I pruned them both back to about 1" to see if I could save them. Did I kill them or is it possible
they will come back? LL
Hard to say. Continue to water them and keep checking. Only time will tell.
This year I grew sugar bush in my garden. This “tender perennial” is now about 4 ft high. The leaves are “20 times sweeter than sugar cane” and are said to be able to be used in place of sugar in
recipes. But, how do I use them? How much sugar bush will equal how much sugar? Do I grind them or just cut them in small pieces? Should I dry them or freeze them to use later? Thank you for any help you can give – I hate to just throw it all out if I could use it instead. TH
I am thinking that you are referring to what I know as the stevia plant. I haven't used this herb myself but I looked around the internet a bit. Looks like most people use a purchased syrup product to cook with but other sites mentioned drying and grinding the leaves. There are several books available on the subject, maybe you could find one at the library.
Hello, My grandmother had some pineapple
sage last year that was planted in the ground. When winter came it died. I thought it was a perennial. Is it? TU
Pineapple sage is classified as a tender perennial. It can't take the cold so most gardeners grow it as an annual or baby it along indoors during the winter. I had success in keeping my potted plant in the garage, cutting it back to three inches after it was finished blooming. Once the weather warmed it began to grow.
I just started an herb garden. How do I know when my oregano is ready to be harvested? It is growing very well, however, the leaves have no smell to them. Also, do I just pick it and chop it or does it have to be dried first? dn
Try rubbing the leaves between your fingers and they will likely give off an aroma. Your plant is ready for harvest whenever you want. Snip from the stems at a spot just above a pair of leaves and remember not to cut more than one third of the plant at any one time. You will want to remove the leaves from the stems before chopping. Do this the easy way by grasping the tip with one hand and running your other hand down the stem, taking off the leaves as you go. No need to dry before using.
I have a a basil plant that is doing beautifully, as I planted it in Miracle Gro potting soil. The package said it was for flowers and vegetables, but now I'm wondering if the Miracle Gro is safe or if it's toxic. Someone suggested that it might be. Anyone know? A friend says it's toxic, and my husband feels that all commercial veggies & herbs are grown in such a medium. I planned on giving some to my son & his wife, but I don't want to if it's not safe. Thanks! Best regards, SH
You know, I have wondered about this too so when your question came in, I called them up. The fellow I asked had to do some checking but then read from something that said "this product is safe around edible plants--all you have to do is wash them before eating." I think I would feel better about it if he had said "oh absolutely."
Thank you, I have two tomato plants that are growing large nice tomatoes but the plant itself has not grown at all (still 6" tall from the day I planted it). The leaves are a rich green like poinsettias. Strange to me? Thank you. P in FL.
Seems strange to me, too, but I'm no tomato expert. Perhaps since the plant is producing fruit and the existing leaves are healthy, there really isn't a problem. I would just keep an eye on it, take good care with water and regular fertilizing and see what happens.
I have a small herb garden with four plants each of sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender, and basil. All of these plants are in the same bed, and all are doing
well...or were doing well. Something is eating my sage. The culprit is leaving everything else alone except the sage. What critter could be feasting on my sage? LP
It's difficult to say without more description of the damage but I noticed a similar situation with the sage in my own garden that looked like slugs.
My son is working on school project, to see the difference between 2 types of fertilizer (regular fertilizer versus Organic fertilizer). We bought some basil seeds and planted them in each container of each type of fertilizer. It has been 4 weeks now, and I haven't seen anything growing. I used the fertilizer only to plant the seeds, and did not use any natural dirt. We left the containers outside the house. Did we do something wrong? How long does it usually take for basil to grow from a seed? Thanks for your time. TH
You are going to need some sort of soil or seed
starting medium to get your seeds to germinate. Fertilizers serve to enrich the soil and then the soil provides the nutrients to the plant. I encourage you and your son to Google "seed starting" to find out more information on the process.
Dear Apinchof, I have a red Spanish pepper plant and I have a problem; the flowers open and are white, when they start closing again the chiles should start developing but instead the flower and the whole small-undeveloped chili pod just fall off. What is my problem? - J
You don't say where you are gardening but my first impulse is to say that it is probably still too chilly for your pepper plants. They really like the heat. If you are in a warm climate, you might want to consider some fertilizer. Choose something without nitrogen which will
encourage more leaf growth rather than fruit production.
Hi, I am wanting to start a herb garden, I have bought all my herbs, but when I went to plant them I found that the soil is completely full of roots from the surrounding plants. What do I do about this? Do I have to dig it all up and use new soil ??? Please help Thanks J
You are likely to injure those surrounding plants if you disturb their roots. Unless you can find another suitable location, your best bet will be to build a raised bed by adding more soil that is amended with lots of good organic matter. Google "raised beds" to find more information on the subject if it is unfamiliar to you.
I had been planning to make an herb garden in my back yard. Upon digging around to test soil locations, I discovered my entire yard has
reddish, thick soil which I figure is clay. Can I still grow a garden in my soil? Do you have any tips on how to work around this inconvenience?
I'm glad you are going to plant an herb garden. You
will find so much joy (and good eats) from it. The clay will likely present drainage problems. You will need to amend your current soil with plenty of organic matter. In addition to a good compost, consider garden-type sand or small coarse gravel. You might also want to build raised beds. If you aren't familiar with this concept, Google the term "raised garden beds" for links to lots of good information.
Hi there, I have found a bunch of
little green worms on my basil plants. They start out as little tiny bumps on the leaves. The next thing I know, there are little tiny green worms (they move like inch worms) on the basil and chew big holes in the leaves. What can I use to prevent them? They have also attacked my leaf mustard as well. Thanks, TM
You can handpick the caterpillars or you can spray them with a BTK solution, a safe method of control. Just follow label directions.
Need advice on my German thyme we really enjoy this herb for lots of meals, but my question is is it safe to
bring it indoor or will that bring in pest to my house plants? thanks mt
Thyme isn't often bothered by pests so you probably don't need to worry about your houseplants. To be safe, you could repot it into clean potting soil and give it a good spray-down with a stream of water before bringing it indoors.
Dear Sir, I found your web site while searching for information on
Kaffir Lime tree. I have a tree given to me by a friend who went for holiday in Florida. I have it in a large pot in my back yard in Houston, Texas. I am trying to find out why does my tree have these leaves where it looked like something has burrowed into the vein of the leaves. I have sprayed with Insecticide soap but they keep coming back. Can you please advise what I can do to prevent this on my tree? Also when is a good time to prune the tree down. It has grown to about 6 feet in height and I want to trim it down. Please advise. Thank you. CQ
Your lime tree mostly likely has a case of citrus leafminers. To date, no chemical insecticide has proven effective in controlling this moth. The best defense is other insects like ladybugs, fire ants and lacewings. You should be trimming the plant regularly to encourage growth.
I have Basil, growing very well in a raised bed with excellent soil and amendments, along with other herbs, pepper plants, etc. I have some holes in the leaves and this morning i noticed a rather
large, green worm on the underside of one of the leaves.......please let me know how to organically get rid of this. Thank you (other than just picking them off when I see them...:)
Oh, I hope you don't have those creepy hornworms. They are as large as your thumb and have a thorn growing out between their eyes. Handpicking is about the only way to get rid of these but do
it fast, they will devastate a plant. There are so many different worms and caterpillars that it's hard for me to say how to control them. It is important to correctly identify each pest before just getting rid of it. Some of them are the good guys, like butterflies or bad guy predators, so try to find a book or a local bug expert to help you. My favorite book on the subject is "The Texas Bug Book: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
What is the best way to trim fresh Dill? I grow different herbs in the summer, but have not had the chance to grow Dill until recently. I thought that when an herb flowered it was "too mature"? My Dill has many flowers. Do I trim it from the bottom or from the top? My Oregano and
Thyme are flowering also? Help.
Dill fronds are best trimmed from the base of the plant. You're right about flowers signaling the end of the life cycle for annuals, like dill or basil, but oregano and thyme are perennials. For these, you can just enjoy the pretty flowers in your garden or add tasty color to your cooking. All herb flowers are edible.
I make Dill Pickles every year. My dill is almost ready to cut, but my cucumbers are just starting to vine out. How can I
keep my dill until my cucumbers are ready to pickle? KS
You can extend the life of your dill plants by pinching off any flowers as they bud. Dill grows so quickly, you might want to start a few more plants to ensure a continuous supply.
Hi, I was just wondering if you tell me what kind of herbs and spices can I plant that will come every year. I'm new at this and I want to
start my own little garden. Thanks SS
Most herbs are perennials, meaning they come back every year. Some of the more popular ones, like basil, dill and parsley, are annuals that live out their life cycles in one season. My suggestion is to decide what herbs you would enjoy growing and then research their individual needs. Check our Reference Desk for links
around this site to information about individual herbs and herb gardening in general. I encourage you to have fun with it!
How do I keep bugs from eating holes in my basil plants? J
First you need to identify the pest. It's hard to know how to treat the problem until you know what it is.
Is it possible to grow a peppercorn plant? If so, can
they be grown indoors? C
The peppercorn vine thrives in the jungles of India and Indonesia where the average rainfall is about 100 inches. Propagation is accomplished through cuttings. Even if you could duplicate these conditions in a greenhouse, I doubt if you would be able to find a cutting of the plant to start with.
In regards to the question about a person trying to grow a tree from seeds taken from a jar of store-bought spices. I'd be curious to know if s/he has any success at all. Many store-bought spices (i.e., mass-produced types), especially imported ones
(most spices) are irradiated before they can be shipped to the USA. They are subject to fairly high-intensity (I believe gamma) radiation via industrial sterilizers. This ensures that the spices do not carry either diseases (molds, fungi, E.coli, etc.) or pests (insects, spores, cysts, etc.) and also industrially-prepared spices often contain a fairly high amount of "bug parts"! But I digress (yet another argument for growing your own!!!) Anyhow, the irradiation in addition to sterilizing the material will also typically disrupt the genes of any seeds in the mix to the point where they will not germinate. BTW, I work in the nuclear industry (health physics, specifically) and once in college did an experiment of subjecting chia seeds to various levels of radiation to see the effects on germination (high doses hindered it). For
more info. there was an excellent article about spice irradiation in the Journal of Health Physics.
Thanks for your comments and information. This is a good point I hadn't thought of in trying to grow seeds from the spice aisle. The whole topic would be worthy of an article, wouldn't it? I always wonder how many people are aware of the irradiation of spices.
I just bought a basil plant from the grocery store and planted it in my windowsill. How do you trim a basil plant to make it most full or do you need to trim it at all? I once saw a basil plant at a friend’s house that looked more like a basil bush with thick stems and very full leaves. I’d love to be able to have such a
plentiful plant but I find that my plants always grow tall and scrawny. Any ideas? H
Basil plants thrive on being pinched so be sure to add leaves to your cooking frequently. Pinch off a stem just above a spot where more leaves are emerging. I have had good luck with basil plants by feeding with an organic seaweed based fertilizer every other week.
Hello there, I have some sort of weird brown spots showing up on my oregano plant. I am wanting to get rid of them, but want to do it organically. Do you know how I can? I scrolled through your Q&A section, but couldn't find an answer. Would appreciate any info on this and how to get rid of it. Thanks, JA
Hard to say what this might be without knowing more or seeing the plant. Oregano is prone to root rot so make sure it is planted in well-drained soil. The spots could also be from water saturation--try not to get the leaves wet when watering and water the plant early in the day when possible.
My basil plant is inside and is doing great. I have taken most of the leaves off of many stems, and was wondering if leaves will grow back where I pulled the previous ones off, or if I need to cut the stem, which will then regrow to produce more leaves? No flowers have come yet. Please email me with any information. Thanks. A
It is better to remove entire stems, not
just leaves, when harvesting herbs. This will encourage more bushy growth.
How easy is it to plant and grow melaleuca? NY
Trees are a bit out of my element but I found this interesting article about the "paperbark tree." Sounds like they might be too easy to grow.
I watered my garden midday. When I went to "visit" it again I noticed the leaves on my cucumber plants and a few of my collards were turning white on the edges. Did I water at the wrong time or is this some kind of fungus? Thanks. Goofy Gardener
Since it came up so quickly, it is probably safe to assume that it is some sort of residue left from the water. Keep an eye on the situation to make sure it
doesn't get any worse. "They" always say to water gardens in the morning and container plants between 3 and 6 p.m.
The two most important crops in my garden are the tomatoes and bush beans. I just planted some fennel in the herb garden which is about 30 feet from the tomatoes and beans. Is the fennel close enough to interfere with the tomatoes and beans? Should I get rid of the fennel? I just found your website and I love it. Thanks, CL in Ks.
Your tomatoes and beans should be safe. In the book The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden, David Hirsch suggests that poor companions be separated by a distance of two rows.
I grow herbs for use but primarily for interest in my garden. The
blossoms on one sage are to my waist. They are now spent.
How should I remove them, or should I remove them? Thank you.
Oh nice--I would have loved to have seen that! You should go ahead and remove them so that the plant can concentrate on growing foliage rather than seeds.
I'm having a problem with my dill plants. I grow them indoors in spot that gets plenty of indirect sunshine. I say indirect because I'm in Arizona and the heat is too much for them to be outdoors. Unfortunately, now I'm down to one plant from three. The leaves are drying up and becoming brittle. How do I save my remaining plant? They were transplants from a store, and thrived beautifully for the first 2-3 weeks. That is when I noticed that the first one didn't look very good.
Within a week, it was completely dead and the roots just pulled right out of the dirt. I've sprayed them with 'Safer' soap dust, but my second one died last week. What am I doing wrong, and how can I prevent this from happening again when I get new ones to replace them? I'm also growing Oregano (which barely showed two leaves before dying on me), Basil which never grew, Parsley which is doing beautifully, Chives which started nicely but now stopped growing and bell peppers. I had four (everything is from seeds), but now they have all died. Please help, I'm at a complete loss! Thanks. MF
Sorry you are having such troubles. Indoor herb gardening isn't nearly as easy "they" make it out to be, in my humble opinion. The biggest problem is getting enough sunlight-most
herbs need at least six hours. Be sure you are using a high quality potting soil, that the plants have good air circulation and look into each plant's water needs individually. Specifically, I would guess your dill was damaged in the transplanting. They have a long taproot that makes them hard to repot. You might try planting seeds where you want them to grow next time around. You will want to keep oregano a bit on the dry side. Try fertilizing your chives with some used coffee grounds and keep any flowers snipped back. Bell peppers, and chiles, benefit from planting a book of matches (remove the cover) in the soil.
I wanted to know if I could plant strawberry plants in a garden box with either Roman or German Chamomile. I live in Tn and I thought Chamomile would "look" nice with red. Goofy Gardener.
I don't see why not. Chamomile is said to enhance the growth of plants that are around it so you will probably have excellent strawberries.
I plant pimento in a bed outside each year in
the spring. In the late summer I get one or two peppers. In the fall they begin to really produce but it is too late for them to ripen before the weather gets too cold. My question is will they grow in south central Alabama, and if so what can I do to get better results? GA
You might want to see if you can find a pepper that matures more quickly than the varieties you have tried in the past. I suspect your real problem, however, is your summer heat. Peppers don't like to be too cool or too hot. If your temperatures get into the 90's try giving the plants some shade, if possible. Peppers also like well-nourished soil that is high in phosphorus, calcium and sulfur. I had a very nice crop of chile and bell peppers last year in Louisiana. I worked bonemeal (phosphorus) into the soil before planting and then put a book of matches with the cover torn off (sulfur) into each hole before planting.
Hi..can you give me some info on how I can get my Lemon Balm to grow more? It's been one height now for some time (approx. 4") I looks healthy, gets plenty of sun in our sun room. Does it need a fertilizer? Thanks! SK
A good dose of fertilizer would surely help. You might consider the size of the pot as well. If you think the plant might benefit from transplanting, go up to a pot size that is only an inch or two larger than the one that it is in.
Hello. I feel like an idiot but I sure hope you can help me. I planted carrots and summer savory in my garden, side by side. Then we had a torrential downpour and all my seeds got washed away from where they had been planted. Throwing my hands up in disgust, I allowed them to grow wherever they settled. Now I have something growing that looks very much like carrots above the ground but nothing like carrots below the ground. I have never planted savory before this summer and have absolutely no idea what it's supposed to look like. I'm not even sure what it's supposed to taste like but I've been told it's a very good herb to use. Can you help me? Dummy from Ontario
Don't be so hard on yourself. I salute you for experimenting. Savory is a great herb to use! The seedlings will have oval leaves that don't really look anything like carrots. As it grows, however, summer savory develops into thin leaves on slender stems that are sort of like a soft rosemary. You have seen "All About Savory," right?
We are just New England people. We have chamomile which has bloomed and appears to now be dying. Should we cut off the flowers, perhaps close to ground level, will they produce more growth and flowers or is the first bloom the last? They are the 18 -20" type. I have never harvested the blooms for tea and have been growing only 2 years but may do so in future. Have 3 plants in pots and 2 in beds at this time. One's in beds have yet to bloom. Ones in pots have bloomed and blooms are dying. Seed from NK. Any info. appreciated on second bloom or no. Chamomile an experiment, we mainly grow and hybridize hosta. Some day-lillies also. Also, what is your opinion on horseradish? How deep should a barrier be dug? Thanks, DJ
Sounds like an interesting experiment with the chamomile. Regular newsletter readers know that I love an experiment. I don't know a lot about it but I did a little surfing. One important thing to know is that there are two types, German which is an annual and Roman which is a perennial. Seems that most people prefer the Roman chamomile for the herb garden. Most of the pages that I read recommended harvesting the flowers individually as they bloom but didn't mention a second blooming. Apparently if you cut back the dying foliage, more green will grow back. Sorry I can't be of more help. I have chamomile on my list of things to learn more about! As for the horseradish, I'm not sure about a barrier. One of my source books recommends furrows that are 3-6 inches deep at
two-foot intervals. I hope that is what you were wondering.
Hello...I have a nymph type black dotted bug on my dill. I live in upstate New York and this is the first year I've grown dill. These "bugs" are 1/4 - 1/2 inch in length and are killing the tops of my dill as it grows. I grow organic veggies so please, please help me. Barb in Middleburgh
As bad as it may seem for your dill, these bugs might actually be good for the rest of your garden. Take a look at this article about beneficial bugs from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and follow the link at the end of the article for maybe help in identifying your culprit.
Hi! I'm hoping you can help me figure out what is attacking my garden and how to best tackle the problem...I live in Western NY and have a small herb garden at the side of my house. The herbs have been growing wonderfully, until today when I realized there are great BIG holes in my echinacea. Upon further watch for the culprit, I did find a few aphids, but nothing else. I thought aphids sucked rather than chewed, however. Any ideas of what it could be? None of my other plants (such as parsley, rosemary, thyme (ha-ha) oregano, lavender and chamomile seem to be affected. Thanks! L
Sounds like caterpillars or slugs to me. Caterpillars are hard to spot but can just be picked off by hand. You can check for slugs by putting out a saucer of beer at night. They are drawn to it but can't get out.
Hi. I am hoping you can help me... We have been growing nasturtium since Oct. 2003 and they are just beginning to bloom. Why? What is the best way to grow this plant? Also, we are planning on selling the flowers at our local farmer's market. Could you tell me the best way to pick them to sell, how to store them, length of edible time and a suggestion as to a price to sell them at. I would be so grateful for your help. Thanks, K
Nasturtiums are annuals that can't take the heat. If you are having a problem with lack of blooms, you may be over-fertilizing. This causes the foliage to grow rather than putting energy into flower production. As for the farmer's market, good idea! I'm no expert on selling flowers but I would clip them with a few of the tasty leaves just as close to sale time as possible. You might pack them in plastic bags with holes or just bag them up as people buy. I've always just clipped as I wanted to use them so I'm not sure how long they will keep. Price will depend on what the market will bear. Ask a few of the other vendors what they might suggest and then gauge your customer's reactions.
I have a rosemary plant in a container and some basil planted in the ground. They are both developing a white sticky substance--it's not powdery, it looks like foam and it is somewhat sticky in minute areas of the plants. Can you tell me what this might be. I rinse it off, but it keeps coming back. B
My first guess is spider mites. They are tiny insects that are hard to see but leave a visible web. Depending on how advanced the problem is, you might be able to eliminate them by wiping the stems with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. If things have gone too far, your best bet is to replace the plants. While treating you should isolate the plants to prevent the problem from spreading to others nearby.
We are growing cilantro only to make salsa and the cilantro is budding flowers now but nothing else is ready yet. It looks very healthy but someone said it is not called cilantro after it blossoms? Can you help. DV in KY
You might want to plant more seeds because after flowering, your cilantro will probably be on the way out. The seeds of the cilantro flowers are called coriander. You can use them green in cooking or dry them. Read more about them both at "All About Cilantro" and "All About Coriander."
I am growing dill and am not sure how far down to pinch it off when harvesting it. Am I supposed to leave a bit of the frons, or do I pinch it off close to the bottom? My stalks get too heavy and often slump over as they are very tender. What can I do to prevent this? I have read your article "All about Dill" but didn't see an answer to this question. Thanks for your help. SW
Sounds like you have some nice healthy plants there! When the dill plants are about five inches high you should pinch down to the base of the plant but as they get older you want to snip the fronds at the point where they are emerging from the stalk. To prevent slumping, you might want to try stakes or a small trellis. If you choose to do this, poke the support into the soil when you sow the seeds or put in place when you are transplanting bedding plants. If you did it later, when it became necessary, you run the risk of disturbing the roots, something dill plants don't like.
I've just moved to hot, dry Phoenix, Az. I've created a special place in my yard for a herb garden. Please tell me what herbs will grow here. I'm hoping to plant basil, chives, parsley, oregano, and mint. Am I in the right ballpark?
I suspect you will have a challenge with your plants in the dog days of summer but you are certainly on the right track with the herbs you mentioned. Others you might experiment with are epazote, lavender, rosemary and tarragon. You will probably want to wait until fall to plant sage, dill, chervil, arugula and thyme. A field trip to the botanical gardens there in Phoenix would probably give you lots more information about what to grow and when.
Hi there. Some of my plants have a white powdery/cottony substance. Are these insects?? What can I do to get rid of this in a safe way that won't harm the plant and be toxic to us?? Thanks GB
Oh dear, sounds like you have a bad case of mealy bugs. The first thing to try is rubbing the infected areas with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. If this doesn't work, you might try spraying an insecticidal soap product. Depending on the extent of damage, you might just have to replace the plant. I have had this trouble in the past and sometimes I just couldn't get rid of them. Be sure to separate the sick plants from your healthy ones right away. Mealy bugs can spread quickly.
Purchased a bottle of whole Allspice and one of whole dill seeds, I live in San Diego and soaked the allspice and removed some plump large seeds from the pods, will these grow in full sun if I start the indoors cause it is rainy and pretty cold outside in the fifties. Would an Allspice tree grow as slowly as my Bayleaf trees...DS
Your experiments sound interesting. I've never tried starting the seeds from the spice aisle--just those from the garden center or flowering plants. My best resource about allspice tells me that the commercial trees are grown from fresh ripe fruit of established plants. Germination will take at least two weeks, maybe longer. After about one year they may be 12 inches high. Flowering generally takes about 7 years.
I need to know when is the best time to spray my strawberry plants and what should I use?
You don't say why you want to spray your strawberry plants so it is difficult to give you a direct answer. From what I understand, strawberries are fairly easy to grow as long as you water and feed them regularly. If you want to spray a fertilizer, be sure to use one that is labeled as safe for produce. Just to be sure, you might ask your local garden center or agricultural extension office about specific recommendations for growing strawberries in your area.
Concerned Authority ,this is one farmer from Maharashtra one of the states of India. I have read about vanilla and its importance and its value as a money making capacity. I want to know, can I cultivate it in Maharashtra and if yes please give me some details about its cultivation or tell about any institution in my state which can give me details about its cultivation?
Dear Sir/Madam, I am from India. I would like to grow vanilla in my field. Can you please help me. I would like to know what type of soil and climate is suitable. Where will I get the necessary items to grow this crop. Looking forward for your reply. Regards, RR
I wonder if both of you have heard about the recent vanilla seminar held in your area. I found an interesting site called India Together that you may find useful. I hope you have the best of luck with this endeavor.
I have bought some Garlic in a pot and have planted this within my herb patch, in the garden. How do I know when to dig it up to use it? Also I have planted some
Chervil in the same area but it is starting to go a red colour. Before planting it I broke up some of the roots in case it was a little pot bound and I am also keeping it well watered. Any Ideas??
After the plants shoot up flowers you will want to cut the stalks back to allow the heads of garlic to use all that energy to develop. Leave a couple of flowers as a guide; when they begin to brown and wilt you know they are almost ready. Stop watering for a few days and then pull the heads out of the ground. Allow to dry out of the sun for a few more days.
One reference book tells me that chervil does not take well to transplanting and doesn't really like full sun. Perhaps your plant is experiencing shock that it may or may not recover from or it's just getting too much sun? Can you check back with the place you bought it from to ask questions?
I have two questions about cardamom. First, I sometimes see it spelled cardamon. which is it? Secondly, I recently bought a cardamom plant (at Home Depot, believe it or not!) and it says it is non-flowering and tropical. It doesn't tell me about sun exposure or watering. Can you help? What can I expect from this plant? Will it get very big. I bought it in a 3 gallon container and have replanted it. Thanks. TH
Either one of the spellings for cardamom is correct. You don't say if you are keeping your new plant as a houseplant or if you replanted it outdoors. Since it is a tropical plant, you will need to keep it fairly warm, the low 60's (F) at a minimum. It likes a rich, moist soil and partial shade. Cardamom is in the ginger family so it will likely spread by throwing up more shoots and, in the wild, will grow leafy stalks that can reach 18 feet. The only one I have seen under cultivation is more a manageable bushy plant about 2 feet high.
Hi, I was told I could grow arugula in my kitchen window all winter long. I live here on the East Coast and I have a nice sunny window in my kitchen perfect for growing herbs. Do you sell the plants or only the seeds. Do you sell the small plants for replanting? Thanks, JD
We just talk about herbs at this site, I don't sell plants or seeds. Arugula is fairly easy to grow although it does best in cooler temperatures. Read more about one of my favorite herbs at "All About Arugula." You should be able to find the fast-growing seeds at most garden centers. Some nurseries will sell transplants in the Spring and the Fall.
Hi, I have a small herb garden, located in a sunny spot, in Brisbane. I use the herbs mostly for culinary purposes but do resort to them if suffering from any ailment rather than heading for the chemist. Today I bought, from a school fete, a herb called five spice. I have heard about this Chinese herb, but only used in powder form and mixed using herbs and spices. I have been unable to find anything from the internet in regard to cooking with the fresh herb and caring for it. Can you help, or know anyone who can? KM
The term "five spice" must be a nickname for this plant. Chinese Five Spice Powder is a blend of well, five spices. Star anise is the dominating flavor and is combined with Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cloves. Perhaps your local government's agricultural office would know the botanical name for it.
Hello- I'm doing some research, and would like to know if you could help me in finding some information about rooting allspice cuttings. I live in Orlando, Florida if that helps! Thanks, K
Most of my references do not even mention growing allspice. The one that does says it is most often grown from seed. Since it is a tree, propagation is probably done through grafting as well. I'll bet the people at the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead, Florida will be able to provide you plenty of information. I know they have allspice trees there.
What brand of soil should I use for my rosemary plant. LM Lake Forest, CA
Rosemary likes a well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5-7.0. Plant it in a sunny place that you want to keep it for awhile because it doesn't take well to transplanting. If you are going to plant it into a container, work a bit of sand into an all-purpose potting soil mix. Before planting in the ground, work the soil with sand and compost or other organic matter.
Hi-I planted dill weed in my garden this year for the first time and they have become quite tall. I'd like to start canning pickles and I wasn't sure when the dill is ready to use. Some bunches of them have yellow flowers on them-does that mean they're ready to be cut? Could you please let me know? Also, once they're cut off do they keep growing back year after year? Thank-you for your time. KJJ
You can, and should, take trimmings from your dill plant throughout the season. Snip the fronds at their base from the main stem. You will also want to trim the flowers to encourage more leaf growth. Dill is an annual herb so it will only last for one season.
First, let me say I get your E-mail and I love it and your page. It's the most comprehensive I've found. I'm the girl that can kill silk plants, but my herbs ... well, they're thriving! I'm growing chives, 4 types of Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Dill, Cilantro, Thyme, Arugula, Marjoram and Italian Flat Leaf Parsley. Now, for my question ... Can you root the parsley? Why I'm asking is that when my Basil got too big, I cut off the tops, plunked it in water and rooted new plants! Can I do this with my parsley? I'd like to make more plants. Thanks for your help. SW
Well, gosh! Doesn't sound like you need my advice at all! I did not know and have never seen any mention of rooting basil in water. I'm going to try it. As for the parsley, this may be more difficult because the roots don't generally like to be moved. But you are on a roll--give it a try. Thanks for your compliments, too, I am glad you are enjoying the monthly newsletter and the site.
Hi, Thanks for all the info on your website. Someone had written you asking about drying the cardamom they were growing. I am wondering if they ever wrote you back. I am interested in growing a few plants, but do not know how to start. Do you have any advice? Thanks, S
No word back from the cardamom-growing reader but I am guessing he or she lives in a tropical part of the world. Cardamom is apparently a difficult plant to grow which is why it is an expensive spice. The Richters catalog sells plants and seeds, reporting that it is a pretty houseplant but rarely flowers as such. They also say that the seeds are difficult to germinate but that the plants will grow in zones 8-10 (on the US Hardiness Scale). Another of my resources does not recommend it for the home garden. If you do decide to try it, be sure to give your plant a steady supply of water and seek out a local expert for site specific growing advice. And let us know how it goes!
I recently planted my first herb garden...I would like to know the best way to cut my herbs...for instance in the middle of a stem, from the base of the plant etc. I have planted basil, chives, oregano, thyme, parsley, and dill...all the plants seem to be thriving but I don't want to kill them or prevent them from further sprouts by cutting them the wrong way. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you, CO
Your garden sounds great! Snipping herbs is like pinching other plants back to encourage growth. For most of them, pinch sprigs about half way down a stalk at a point just above a pair of leaves. Keep in mind the shape of plant you are creating as you do it and never take more than one third of the plant at a time. For the chives, clip the leaves at the base of the plant.
What are the effects of thips on a paprika plant and are the effects long term and what pesticides do you recommend?
We cover thrips on indoor plants a little bit in a question below. I can't seem to find much information about thrips in my own references but found a great resource for organic pesticides. Oddly enough, it is included in a site called tracker-outdoors that is mostly about hunting. They suggest making a nicotine tea concoction that might help with thrips. That link should take you there.
I have several herbs and I use a safe insecticide but I have a problem with little flying insects that look like gnats. They seem to live in the soil and when I spray it only lasts a day and they're back. Because I live in an apartment my herbs are potted indoors. Do you know what these pests might be and how I can get rid of them without harming my plants? Thanks - Vi --Qld, Australia
Hmmm, maybe you have "thrips" or "flea beetles." Thrips cause the leaves to get yellow, and then brown, spots. Try rinsing them away with lukewarm water. They like dry, warm conditions so you might increase the humidity around your plants. Flea beetles eat tiny holes in the leaves. Outdoors they can be prevented with a layer of mulch around the base of the plants so maybe you could come up with an attractive indoor mulch. They thrive on weeds and plant debris so be sure to pick up any dead leaves that fall onto the potting soil. If you don't think it's either of these pests, maybe you could take one of your pots over to a local garden center for identification.
I have tried to grow dill and cilantro two summers now.
I also put out basil and thyme. The basil and thyme are thriving,
but the others have "burnt" and dried up. What did I do wrong?
What type of growing conditions do dill and cilantro require. Thanks.
CJ in KY
glance, it would seem a bit odd that you are having this
problem because all four of the herbs you mention require
the same growing conditions: full sun, soil pH of around 6
and moist, well-drained soil. The key may be the one thing
cilantro and dill have in common: They do not take to
transplanting well because of long roots. If you are
buying established plants now maybe you should try seeds
Why do I have trouble growing purple sage? I leave it in the original pot it wilts, I plant it in my garden & it still wilts. I have good soil, lots of worms & everything else goes crazy. Does it not like me? Help Char
After looking at several sources I have discovered that sage is susceptible to wilt. Two different diseases, Verticillium wilt and Bacterial wilt, can harm plants. You might want to look into the symptoms and remedies for each of these to see if they might be your problem.
But I also wonder if maybe you are overwatering. Apparently sage likes to stay a bit on the dry side. It needs well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil and full sun. NationalGardening.com says the sage plant "...does better if not planted in soil that is too fertile." Who knew that could be a problem but if all your other plants are thriving you must have good soil.
I encourage you, and all gardeners, to find a high-quality nursery to buy your plants from and then ask a million questions. A local nursery is an excellent source because they are familiar with your particular growing conditions and challenges.