Posted on 20 May 2010 by

Perennial Herbs for the Urban Garden

Fall 2009 Garden: SageBy Sonya Welter

Edible perennials are essential to a permaculture plot, and anyone who wants more food with less work will want to incorporate some perennial herbs into their garden.

Of course, whether or not a plant is a perennial in your garden depends on your USDA hardiness zone.

If you want to try to grow something that’s just above your zone–lavender in zone 4, for example–you can try planting it along the south side of your house, where winter temperatures will stay a little warmer.

Here are some perennial herbs to consider for your garden:

Chives (Allium schoeoprasum)
When I was a kid I liked to chew on the long, thin leaves of chives from the yard. Chives are hardy in zones 3 through 9, and the leaves and purple flowers have a mild oniony flavor. Chives are good to grow under fruit trees, since they’ll repel borers and prevent apple scab. Chives (and other plants in the allium family like onions and garlic) will also deter deer and rabbits.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
The citrus scented leaves of lemon balm make a relaxing herbal tea, and the white flowers are wildly popular with honeybees. Lemon balm is hardy in zones 4 through 9, and in warmer climates especially can spread vigorously in the garden.

Mint (Mentha spp.)
There’s more to the world of mint than peppermint and spearmint. There’s also lemon mint and chocolate mint and pineapple mint and dozens of other varieties of mint. Officially, mint is hardy in zones 5 through 11, but I’ve grown catnip (a variety of mint) in zone 4 next to the house. All species of mints can easily become invasive, and you’ll want to either plant it with other aggressive plants or plant it in a pot buried in the ground to keep the mint somewhat contained.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Also called common sage or garden sage, this herb is a must for Thanksgiving stuffing and other savory dishes. The pink or purple flowers are very popular with butterflies and hummingbirds. Sage is hardy in zones 4 through 11, and in warmer locations it will stay evergreen all year round.

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