Herbs add flavor to your dishes, scent your home or cure what ails you. Most cooks are knowledgeable about basil, thyme and other popular kitchen herbs, but the herb list is far more than you may think. Clay tablets from Samaria at 2200 B.C. recorded above 1,000 medicinal herbs. Modern gardeners plant herbs for their culinary and medicinal properties, but also because herbs are great garden citizens; they require minimal sulfur and water, harbor few pests and repel destructive insects in the garden while attracting pollinators like butterflies and bees. Propagate herbs by seeding, cuttings or root division.
Start herb seeds indoors, using containers with adequate drainage and filling them with moist potting soil. Catch the top two to three inches without soil to facilitate watering.
Sow chives (Allium schoenoprasum), marjoram (Origanum majorana) and thyme (Thymus vulgare) by scattering 20 seeds each 4-inch bud. Use proportionately more seeds for larger pots. Sprinkle a fine layer of sand on top and put the container in which it receives direct sunlight. Mist with water each day until the seeds germinate.
Use the same technique but sow just four seeds per pot for basil (Ocimum basilicum), coriander (Coriandrum sativum), cumin (Cuminum cyminum) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Thin out to the strongest seedling once the plants are 2 inches tall.
Turn the planting pots from time to time, allowing all seedlings equal access to sunlight. Keep the soil moist. Transplant your herbs into the garden after the last frost if you do not need to grow them in containers.
Use a razor blade or sharp garden clipper to take cuttings from bay (Laurus nobilis), sage (Salvia officinalis) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) plants. Select a healthy, established plant and cut a 4-inch slice from a branch hint. Remove leaves around the lowest inch of stem with a scissor, not by hand.
Dip the cut end in a hormone rooting powder. Press the reduced 1 to 2 inches of the cutting edge into a pot or tray full of an even mixture of sand and perlite. Keep the medium moist and mist the cutting daily until new growth appears in about 3 weeks.
Transplant the cuttings to person pots full of potting soil and put them in a sunny window. Keep soil moist. Move the new herbs into the garden, if needed, once the roots are well established.
Divide the roots of perennial herbs like mint (Mentha), oregano (Origanum vulgare) and comfrey (Symphytum officinale). Plant root branches at any time of the year, but it’s ideal to behave in early spring or late autumn while the plant is dormant.
Press a sharp scoop directly into the ground several inches from the exterior edge of the parent plant’s origin. Pull the handle back gently but securely to leverage the origin from the soil. Brush the dirt off. Notice whether the origin structure is a clump of interwoven fibrous roots, surface or underground running roots, woody roots, rhizomes or tubers.
Divide clumping roots like the ones of mint (Mentha) by splitting the root clump by hand or with clippers into four pieces, each with the crown attached. Running roots stretch some distance from the parent, either on the soil surface or underground, forming new roots and stems along the way; divide these by clipping off a part with roots and stems. Woody herbs like sage sage (Salvia spp.) Root where the stem touches the earth; divide these by clipping the stem involving a rooted part from the mother plant.
Utilize more care to divide herb plants which grow from a thick, fleshy mass of stems, termed rhizomes or tubers. Use a sharp knife to divide these heels that are crocheted. Ensure each division contains a generous quantity of rhizome or tuber and at least one growth stage or dormant bud.
Plant divisions outside in fertile, well-draining soil. Dig planting holes large enough for the roots to spread out completely. Replant split root clumps to the same soil where they were previously implanted. Plant rhizome sections into a depth of one-half their width. Plant tuber divisions into a depth that puts the growth stage just above ground level. Space sections from 10 to 12 inches apart to give them room to expand.