Summer can be a tough time for gardeners. The harsh heat and dry conditions make it nearly impossible to produce viable plants and flowers. But did you know some plants actually thrive during the cooler months? It’s true; areas with cool fall and mild winter weather can produce the hardiest of herbs. So, although we must soon welcome crisp weather and falling leaves, that doesn’t mean you have to pack away gardening tools and give your green thumb a break.
Here’s our list of eight summer herbs that you can plant during the late summer and early fall season so they're ready and thriving come winter.
Whether you prefer curly or flat-leaved parsley, this vibrant herb is perfect for garnishing those yummy sauces and hearty soups we all love in the fall, like this Creamy Potato Soup. A late summer herb with a pleasant (and slightly bitter) flavor, plant it in September or October for maximum growth potential. Part of the carrot family and low maintenance, parsley is a win-win for the horticultural hobbyist.
There’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup during the colder months. Check out our “Soup Recipes to Get You Excited for Fall” for all the comfort-food inspo you need to whip up a pot yourself.
Mint is a winter staple, especially when used in holiday cookie recipes. Ensure you have enough to make this upcoming holiday season merry by planting it during late summer or early fall. Mint is a notoriously easy and fast grower, so opt to plant it in a container instead of directly in your garden.
Did someone say, “holiday cookies”? Get recipes for several holiday goodies in our article, “Giftable Goodies: Yummy Recipes That Are Great for Gifting.”
Sweet, pungent, and slightly spicy, basil can easily punch up any pasta recipe. Because it typically grows at a slower speed during the colder months, plant basil early or mid-summer, so you can harvest some for winter. Outdoor temperatures should remain above 59 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum production.
Looking for something to pair with your basil-enhanced pasta dish? Look no further than this delicious oregano presto that you can create with your herbs. A staple in most Italian dishes and one of the best herbs to plant in summer, grow it as early as late spring or the beginning of summer. Bold and peppery, oregano is considered a perennial, so you’ll only need to plant it once, and it’ll grow back time and time again.
Preferring moist soil at all times, cilantro is perfect for late summer or early fall planting. Plant this herb in your garden or a container, then harvest it to make this white chicken chili recipe when the temps finally drop. With a mix of lemon, pepper, and pungent flavoring, cilantro is used to stimulate the international tastes of cuisines around the world.
Also considered a perennial, this versatile and sun-loving herb helps make up this lemon thyme rice recipe that’s sure to pair well with any meat and roasted vegetable dish you prepare this winter. Use thyme’s peppery and sweet taste to enhance chicken, turkey, or beef and combine it with other herbs, like rosemary, parsley, and oregano, to really kick up the complexity of a dinnertime meal.
Lemon balm is a great herb to grow when the months start to turn cooler because it also thrives in moist soil. Plant lemon balm now to make your own tasty lemon balm tea that boasts some serious benefits, such as reduced stress and anxiety, improved appetite, and enhanced sleep.
Tea has several feel-good perks. Read what else it does in “There’s a Tea for That: Tips for Picking the Right Tea for What Ails You.”
Chives are tasty in the fall and also produce beautiful flowers in the spring and summer. With their mild onion flavor, add chives to potatoes or make some chive butter perfect for topping vegetables and steaks. Just make sure to add chives to dishes at the last minute so heat doesn’t destroy their delicate flavor.
Beyond Summer Herbs: Our Farmers Market Faves
If you don’t want to grow yourself, summer herbs can usually be found in your local farmers market. A great place to find herb varieties, like parsley, mint, basil, and oregano, the farmers market also generally has an abundance of locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Read “6 Fantastic Farmers Market Shopping Tips” to get the most bang for your buck at your neighborhood market. Enjoy!