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15 Uncommon Herbs You Should Grow In Your Herb Garden

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In the world of gardening, herbs like basil, parsley, and thyme are staples in many plots. These common selections offer familiarity and easy access to fresh flavors.

However, venturing beyond these garden-variety herbs can not only elevate your culinary creations but also enhance the biodiversity of your garden.

This article explores 15 uncommon herbs that promise unique flavors, medicinal benefits, and striking visual appeal. These lesser-known gems are perfect for gardeners looking to expand their horizons.

1. Lovage: A Culinary Giant

Lovage is an imposing perennial that resembles celery in appearance and flavor. It grows up to six feet tall and boasts large, lush leaves.

In the kitchen, lovage is a powerhouse, adding a rich, aromatic depth to soups, stews, and salads. Its leaves, stems, and seeds are all edible, making it a versatile addition to your culinary arsenal.

Lovage thrives in well-drained soil with partial to full sun, requiring regular watering during dry spells. Its robust size and striking appearance also make it an attractive focal point in any herb garden.

2. Borage: The Starflower Herb

Borage, or starflower, is notable for its vibrant blue, star-shaped flowers and fuzzy leaves. It is not only a visual delight but also a magnet for pollinators like bees.

Borage leaves have a mild cucumber flavor, excellent for refreshing salads or garnishing drinks. The flowers, too, are edible and can be used to beautify desserts.

Borage prefers sunny locations and well-drained soil. It’s a self-seeding annual, so once planted, it often returns, providing beauty and flavor year after year.

3. Lemon Balm: More Than Mint

A member of the mint family, lemon balm spreads quickly and can easily take over garden spaces if not contained.

Its leaves emit a gentle lemon scent, which is why it’s a popular choice for calming teas and aromatic oils. Lemon balm is often used in herbal remedies to help reduce anxiety and promote sleep.

To keep it in check, consider planting lemon balm in containers or designated areas. It prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil, making it ideal for cooler, shadier garden spots.

4. Chervil: The Gourmet’s Choice

Often called the “gourmet’s parsley,” chervil is a delicate herb with a subtle flavor reminiscent of anise. It is a staple in French cuisine, particularly used in spring dishes like salads and egg recipes.

Chervil thrives in light, well-drained soil and cooler temperatures; it even tolerates light frost. Because of its delicate nature, chervil should be added at the end of cooking to preserve its flavor and vibrant color.

5. Epazote: The Mexican Herb

Epazote is a staple in Mexican cooking, known for its pungent aroma and distinct taste, which is a cross between oregano and fennel.

Traditionally, it’s used in bean dishes as it is believed to reduce flatulence. Fresh or dried, epazote can transform salsas, quesadillas, and more.

This herb prefers full sun and well-drained soil but can often thrive in less fertile conditions. Be cautious, as epazote can become invasive if allowed to spread unchecked.

6. Sweet Woodruff: A Shade Lover

Sweet woodruff is a charming ground cover known for its whorled leaves and sweet-smelling white flowers. It excels in shady gardens, making it a great underplanting beneath taller plants.

Historically, its dried leaves have been used to scent linens and flavor traditional German May wine. Sweet woodruff prefers rich, moist soil and shade, where it spreads quickly to form a living carpet of green.

7. Hyssop: The Holy Herb

Hyssop is an attractive herb with a long history of medicinal and culinary use. Often mentioned in the Bible, this bushy plant has spikes of violet-blue flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

Its leaves have a slightly bitter, minty flavor, making them a robust addition to meats, soups, and stews. Hyssop prefers full sun and well-drained, poor soils, and it doubles as a beautiful ornamental plant.

8. Vietnamese Coriander: The Spicy Contender

Also known as Vietnamese cilantro or Rau Ram, this herb is essential in Southeast Asian cuisine. It has a spicy, cilantro-like flavor but with a more intense, lemony edge.

It’s excellent in salads, soups, and spring rolls. Unlike cilantro, Vietnamese coriander prefers warm, humid conditions and should be grown in moist, fertile soil.

It’s perfect for container gardening, especially if you’re in a cooler climate, as it can be moved indoors during colder months.

9. Summer Savory: The Peppery Green

Summer savory is a lesser-known herb that offers a peppery flavor, somewhat similar to thyme but with a kick. It’s an annual that pairs wonderfully with beans, meats, and egg dishes.

In addition to its culinary uses, summer savory is reputed to help with digestive issues and is often used in traditional remedies.

This herb thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, making it a straightforward plant for beginner gardeners. Its relative, winter savory, is a perennial but has a stronger and less sweet flavor.

10. Fenugreek: The Curative Herb

Fenugreek is a unique herb in that both its leaves and seeds are used in cooking. Its leaves are wonderful in salads or as an herb topping, while the seeds are essential in many spice blends like curry powders.

Fenugreek is also famed for its health benefits, including improving digestion and regulating blood sugar levels.

Growing fenugreek requires full sun and well-drained soil. It’s an annual that can also sprout easily indoors, so it can be a year-round addition to your kitchen herbs.

11. Anise Hyssop: Licorice in Bloom

Anise hyssop is not only beautiful with its tall, purple flower spikes, but it also offers a sweet, licorice-like flavor that enriches teas, desserts, and more.

This perennial herb attracts pollinators and adds a vertical dimension to your herb garden. Anise hyssop is drought-resistant once established and prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

It’s ideal for gardeners looking for low-maintenance plants that offer high yields of both visual beauty and flavor.

12. Sorrel: The Lemon-Flavored Leaf

Sorrel is distinguished by its bright, lemony flavor, which makes it a fantastic addition to soups, salads, and sauces.

This perennial herb is easy to grow and can be harvested multiple times throughout the growing season.

Sorrel prefers a spot in full sun or partial shade and thrives in moist, well-drained soil. Its sharp flavor is due to oxalic acid, which is also found in foods like spinach and rhubarb.

13. Tarragon: The Herb of Dragons

Known as the “king of herbs” in French cuisine, tarragon is indispensable for dishes like Bearnaise sauce. It has a distinctive anise-like flavor that pairs beautifully with chicken, fish, and egg dishes.

French tarragon, the variety most coveted for cooking, grows best in light, dry soils and sunny locations. It’s a perennial, so it will return year after year, providing aromatic leaves for your culinary exploits.

14. Pineapple Sage: The Tropical Treat

Pineapple sage lives up to its name with leaves that smell like ripe pineapples. This herb produces vibrant red flowers in late summer and fall, which are not only beautiful but also attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

The leaves are great in fruity drinks or as garnish on salads. Pineapple sage thrives in full sun and well-drained soil and is best grown in warmer climates or as a potted plant that can be moved indoors during cold winters.

15. Angelica: The Archangel Herb

Angelica is a towering herb that can grow up to six feet tall, with large, lobed leaves and hollow stems. Historically, it was used for a wide range of medicinal purposes, from relieving indigestion to curing colds.

Today, it’s valued for its candied stems that are used in baking and its roots for flavoring liqueurs. Angelica prefers damp, fertile soil and can grow in sun or partial shade. Its impressive size and unique shape make it a standout in any garden.

Expanding your herb garden with these uncommon herbs not only diversifies your culinary palette but also enhances the biodiversity of your garden space.

Each herb discussed here brings its own unique set of flavors, benefits, and beauty to your garden, inviting a richer, more vibrant gardening experience.

Experimenting with these unusual choices not only challenges your gardening skills but also expands your culinary repertoire, making each meal a new adventure.

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