If you know what a perennial plant is, it’s not difficult to know which herbs are perennials. They are the ones that keep coming back year after year. Care for them and they will continue growing and providing you with an ongoing harvest for many years.
There are a huge number of herbs that are suitable for the home herb garden, and some of the best are perennials. They include all those in our list of 15 different perennial herbs, as well as bay leaves, bee balm, chamomile, lovage, spearmint, and winter savory.
Are there perennial herbs?
Herbs are categorized as annuals, biennials, and perennials. We can buy seeds of all of these as well as established seedlings in garden centers.
We plant annual herbs – either seeds or seedlings – in spring every year and it takes them a year to complete their life cycle from seed to flower when they die off. They include basil, chervil, coriander, and marjoram.
Dill is a biennial, but it is usually grown as an annual. Parsley is also a biennial, but it is often grown as an annual for better flavor.
A large number of garden herbs are perennials that grow for many years. Commonly, the top part of the plant will die back in the cold winter months and they grow back in spring. Some grow right through the winter, especially in areas that don’t experience extreme winter conditions.
15 Different Herbs that Are Perennials
Here are 15 herbs that are perennials. They range from culinary herbs to herbs that many people grow for their flowers, most of which are edible.
Many of these herbs thrive in what we would normally consider being less than perfect soil conditions.
Chives have long thin leaves that don’t look like regular leaves at all. They grow in clumps and produce pretty pink or purple flowers.
Garlic chives are chives, but they have fragrant white flowers. While chives generally have a mild onion flavor, garlic chives have a more garlicky taste.
Chopped up, garlic chives are a brilliant addition to soups, salads, and many potato dishes. You can also use the unopened flower buds to add flavor to food.
Creeping thyme is a fast-growing, wonderfully hardy ground cover that doesn’t care about the soil it grows in. It has tiny leaves and produces lots of lovely purple or pink flowers that are guaranteed to brighten up your herb garden.
Add creeping thyme to pasta and potato dishes as well as chowders.
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family that is commonly used as a medicinal herb. It grows well in any well-drained soil, but, like most other types of mint, it can become invasive.
You can use the leaves of lemon balm to add a mild citrus flavor to fruit salad or herb butter. You can also use it in potpourris, teas, and as an insect repellant.
Oregano is a perennial favorite. It’s one of those wonderful herbs that are almost impossible to kill.
It’s a super-hardy herb that spreads fast and produces mildly purple flowers that attract vital pollinators to your garden. Add its delicious green leaves to just about anything that incorporates tomatoes, including soups, stews, and pizza.
Lavender is a pretty perfect perennial that grows easily in well-drained soils. It looks gorgeous in the garden, can be dried for sachets that you can tuck into your dresser drawers, and it adds delicate flavor to herb butter, salads, and even scones.
Mint comes in many leaf shapes and flavors, from spearmint to chocolate. It’s incredibly easy to grow and, if given half a chance, will take over your herb garden.
You can use mint fresh or dried as a culinary herb and grow it to repel mosquitoes. Just be aware that it can be invasive.
Not very well known, salad burnet looks a bit like cilantro, but it tastes completely different, adding a bit of a cucumber flavor to salads.
Sometimes substituted for spinach in salads and soups, sorrel has long, more slender, and delicate leaves and it boasts red veins. It also has a distinctive lemony tang that spinach never has.
Even though they look like little pansies, violas are not just ornamental flowers that will add gorgeous color to your garden. They are lightly scented and 100% edible and make a special addition to salads or even a garnish for cupcakes.
Violas reseed with no help from you, so try growing them this spring and see what happens. They do particularly well in full sun.
Marjoram is often called oregano, but true marjoram is usually referred to as sweet marjoram. Both are herbs in the oregano family, which is where the confusion comes from, but oregano (Origanum vulgare) has a stronger flavor.
Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) has a much milder flavor and it is a popular option for adding to soups, salads, and many meat and poultry dishes. The fresh leaves also make a great garnish.
A poor cousin in the herb garden, tarragon can add culinary sophistication. It’s not difficult to grow and it can be used to flavor vinegar and many delicately flavored dishes.
That said, French tarragon is regarded as a classic herb!
To grow well in your herb garden, be sure to space them at least 18 to 24 inches apart. It’s easy to grow and doesn’t need much attention as long as it’s in well-drained soils that are fertile.
Often grown as an annual herb, fennel self-seeds itself and comes back year after year.
Even though it belongs to the carrot family, fennel is not a root vegetable, its fat stalks can be used in soups and stews. Its pretty feathery leaves and seeds, which have a slight licorice flavor, are also widely used for cooking.
Cilantro is a herb commonly used in Indian and Mexican cooking. Also known as coriander, we use both the leaves and the dried seeds.
Cilantro flower buds are also delicious in salsas and salads.
Lemon verbena dies back in winter and resurfaces in spring-like most perennials. It’s easy to grow and makes a good companion plant to lavender.
This is one of the most lemony of all the so-called lemon herbs and it’s brilliant for flavoring fish dishes. Many people also use it medicinally for digestive disorders, indigestion, and other issues.
A stunning plant that you can use as an evergreen hedge or simply as a statement plant in your herb garden, rosemary is hardy and easy to grow. You can even trim it into topiary shapes.
It will commonly grow 3 feet tall, and in warm climates can stretch to 5 feet.
When you decide to plan a herb garden, you need to know whether the herbs you are going to plant are annuals, biennials, or perennials. Our 2021 gardening tips will help you fathom the difference.
Good luck and enjoy the challenges. We have found them all to be worthwhile.