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How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates

If you live in a hot climate, growing herbs may seem like a daunting task. Don’t worry, it’s possible! With the right knowledge, you can grow herbs that thrive in the heat. Not only will they add flavor to your meals, but they will also attract beneficial insects to your garden.

In this blog post, I’ll share tips on how to plant, care for, and harvest perennial herbs in hot summer climates so that you can enjoy a bountiful herb garden year-round.

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates

10 Tips for Growing Delicious Herbs in Hot Summer Climates

1. Learn about the herbs you want to grow and the best times to plant

Herbs are classified as annuals, biennials, or perennials.

Annuals complete their life cycle in one growing season. Biennials typically grow the first year, flower, set seed the second year, and then die. Perennials usually live for three years or more. 

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates
Harvested rosemary

Living in a hot climate means many herbs are perennial and come back year after year. Plant perennial herbs in the spring and the fall.

Perennial herbs that grow well year-round in mild winter climates: sage, mint, lemon balm, rosemary, lemon verbena, oregano, garlic chives, thyme, bay laurel, lavender, lemongrass, stevia. Read more about 10 perennial herbs for hot summer climates in this blog post.

2. Give herbs plenty of sunlight

Herbs do best with 6-8 hours of sun; afternoon shade is preferred in hot summers. However, many herbs tolerate full afternoon sun even in hot climates like the low desert of Arizona. They include rosemary, lavender, garlic chives, lemongrass, oregano, and basil.

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates

That being said, herbs are grown for their leaves, and fruiting isn’t required. If you have a shady spot in your garden, herbs are one crop that will tolerate shade more than other plants.

Herbs that tolerate partial shade (3-4 hours sun) include chervil, cilantro, dill, lemon balm, chives, thyme, ginger, lemon verbena, bay, mint, oregano, sage, and turmeric.

Herbs that tolerate partial shade

3. Plant in a location with good drainage

Good drainage is essential, especially for Mediterranean herbs like oregano, sage, lavender, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs are adapted to growing in dry, rocky, and well-drained soil.

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates

Herbs are not tolerant of wet or waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot and other diseases. To thrive, they require soil that drains easily and allows excess water to escape quickly.

4. Learn how to care for herbs throughout the year

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates
Flowering sage

Year-Round Tips for Perennial Herbs

  • Spring: Good time to plant. Prune off woody growth. Lightly prune by ⅓ and amend with compost
  • Summer: Do not prune much or overwater. Allow plants to go into summer dormancy (survival mode).
  • Fall: Good time to plant. Lightly prune by ⅓ and amend with compost. 
  • Winter: Reduce watering and harvest less – helps plants go dormant and withstand frost damage

5. Grow invasive herbs in a container

Herbs with spreading roots that do best in containers are herbs in the mint and oregano families. 

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates
Oregano in a container and mint

Other Herbs that Grow Well in Containers:

Basil, Cilantro, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Ginger, Turmeric, Calendula

Container Gardening for Beginners: 10 Steps for Success

10 Tips for How to Grow Herbs in Hot Summer Climates (cont.)

6. Harvest seeds before they drop and spread

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates
Dill seeds

Some herbs, such as chamomile, dill, garlic chives, fennel, and cilantro, produce many seeds that can spread throughout the garden.

Saved seeds

If you want to save the seeds, allow them to dry on the plant, but cut off the seed head before they begin falling off. Store the seed head in a paper sack to continue drying. Learn more about how to save seeds in this blog post.

7. Don’t overfertilize or overwater herbs

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates

Don’t overfertilize herbs – this promotes lush green growth at the expense of flavor and scent. The herb oils won’t be as concentrated. Adding compost twice a year is plenty.

Don’t overwater herbs – they require less water than vegetables and flowers. Flavor and scent intensify if you water correctly. Herbs are often killed by overwatering. 

8. Use herbs to attract beneficial insects

Pests rarely cause significant damage to herbs. On the contrary, herbs are crucial for attracting, feeding, and housing beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden. Plant various herbs throughout your garden and allow them to flower. 

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates

Beneficial Insect & Pollinator-Friendly Herbs That Grow Easily From Seed:

Basil, borage, cilantro, dill, parsley, fennel, lovage, chamomile (Click the herb name for seed sources)

9. Harvest and use herbs every day

 Use them. The best thing about growing all of these herbs is you usually don’t have to preserve them. You have ready access to them all year long. Don’t forget to harvest and use them.

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates
Herbs hanging to dry

Harvest herbs regularly, picking lightly all over to encourage bushy growth. Avoid harvesting more than ⅓ of the plant, and aim to harvest just before flowering for the most flavorful herbs. After flowering, cut back the herbs.

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates
Harvested thyme

Herbs generally have the most flavor just before flowering. Use a sharp, clean knife or scissors to harvest. Harvest from all over the plant if possible. After harvesting, wash, rinse, pat dry, or let air dry. Remove leaves from tough stalks and stems.

10. Learn how to preserve herbs

How to Grow Herbs in Hot Climates

Herbs can be preserved through short-term storage, freezing, drying, and freeze-drying. Each method has unique benefits and is best for certain types of herbs.

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