How to Grow a Year-Round Italian Herb Garden

Rosemary, Parsley and Sage

Italian cuisine is among the most celebrated around the world, and one of the secrets to Italian cooking is the use of fresh herbs. That’s right – you can be a great Italian chef if you have these fresh herbs handy anytime, and what else is easier if you have your very own Italian herb garden?

Designing an Italian Herb Garden

Before you start mimicking the gardens of Tuscany, you may want to consider the Italian herbs that are most suitable for you. The following is a collection of favorite herbs in the region:

Basil Seedlings


Although Basil is originated from Central Asia and Africa, it has been used in Italian cuisine so much that it has become part of the Mediterranean herb family. As a versatile herb, Basil is best used to pair up with tomato-based cuisine, be it pasta, pizza, quiches or bread spread. Basil is sun-lover and prefers well-drained soil; but unlike most herbs, it actually needs quite regular watering. Also, please note that Basil is an annual plant so you may need to regrow the herbs every year, unless you are lucky enough to live in a tropical climate where Basil is able to reseed itself.

Fresh Rosemary Cuttings


Rosemary is another favorite among Italian herb garden. The plant is an evergreen perennial and can grow into a big shrub in a few years, with pretty purplish-blue flowers. Wild Rosemary can be found along the sea cliff of the Mediterranean coast, and therefore, not surprisingly the herb loves strong sun, well-drained soil and an occasional breeze. The most important consideration of good Rosemary care is not to over-water, as this is the major cause of death for this plant. This also implies that well-drained soil is very important and the herb should not be planted where water tends to accumulate, such as areas around the sprinklers. Another tip: Rosemary needs a fair amount of circulation and given it has the potential to grow into a big shrub, you may want to allow more space for Rosemary in your herb gardening.

Fresh Thyme


Thyme is a wonderfully flavorful herb that is often used in pork and lamb seasoning. Most varieties are low-growing perennial and they can spread quite quickly if the light, sun and soil condition is optimal for the herb. Similar to Rosemary, thyme loves the sun, well-drained soil and should be watered sparingly.



Parsley has been extensively used by Italians through the ages. The herb is used as seasoning, garnish, and even to remove bad breath after a hearty meal. Parsley is a biennial plant but is mostly grown as a tender annual because its taste would have been too strong after the first year.



Another native in the Mediterranean, the name Oregano means “Joy of the Mountain” in Greek and indeed they can be found along the mountainside of Greece. This fine herb has dark green, oval-shaped leaves in opposite pairs with beautiful flowers in white, pink or purple. Oregano requires a fair amount of sunlight, but the plant cannot withstand full fun and should be planted in partial shade in hot climate. When designing your garden, you can consider using Oregano as edging plant in your herb gardening.



Sage is another evergreen perennial that can be grown to 1-2 feet in height and 2-3 feet in width. It has woolly, grayish foliage with blue or purple flowers, and interesting varieties such as the purple, golden and tricolor Sage have wonderful colors and are excellent choices as edgers in herb gardening. Similar to most herbs, Sage likes warm sunny location. The plant is not particular to any soil type as long as it is well-drained. Please note that Sage should be pruned often or the plant will grow woody and leggy, yielding less flavorful leaves.

Growing Garlic


How can we forget about the Garlic? It is a must in almost every Italian cuisine. Garlic is easy to grow by placing the starter cloves in moist soil (just pick the biggest ones from the supermarket!), and the cloves should be harvested after the leaves begin to wither. Garlic cloves can be easily dried and stored.

The list can go on and on… other herbs such as Fennel can be great choices as well. Finally, as you design you Italian herb garden, don’t forget to include the terraces and walkways, water and statuary to make it the very special garden of your own!

Megan Saurus is a dedicated herb gardener and author, and someone who is passionate about quality cooking, quality health and quality life. Besides herb gardening, she enjoys cooking, making potpourri gifts for family and friends, and reads with her kids. To learn more about other herb garden plants and herb gardening tips in general, please visit her website at

Source: Megan Saurus

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: