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Desert Gardening: Herbs that Require Little Maintenance

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Learn about flavorful herbs that require very little maintenance or care once they are established.

Flavor without the fuss

I love to cook with fresh herbs and veggies, but I because I travel a lot for work, I’m not home enough to tend to a full-blown veggie garden—tender seedlings often fail to thrive after a couple of weeks of neglect.

My wife keeps a plot at our community garden a few blocks away, but that is farther than I want to walk to grab a sprig of rosemary for roasted potatoes. Thankfully rosemary is an herb I can grow right outside the kitchen door; it needs nearly no care after establishing.

I love neglect-friendly edibles. Below are two of my favorite plants that provide flavor with a minimum of fuss:

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an indispensable plant. It is evergreen, blooms blue, and adds a wonderful piney flavor to the aforementioned roasted potatoes. I like the upright rosemary best for cooking, and it also makes a fine hedge. The variety ‘Tuscan Blue’ grows into a handsome and tasty 3- to 6-foot-tall plant. As a bonus, its strongly scented leaves are distasteful to rabbits, and it thrives on scant watering.

To try my potatoes, preheat an oven to 400 degrees F, toss quartered potatoes with lots of rosemary sprigs and olive oil, season with kosher salt and bake for about an hour, flipping the potatoes once or twice to brown on all sides.

Beginning as early as late April, the wonderfully scented mint-family shrub Mexican oregano (Poliomintha maderensis) begins blooming in desert gardens. The long-blooming plant will continue producing light-purple flowers through fall. True to its name, the leaves of the plant smell and taste like oregano, and I like to use them as an oregano substitute. They are especially good for making salsas.

For an ornamental, look for ‘Lavender Spice’, a compact (3x3-foot) plant with a particularly colorful and enduring display of flowers.

What are your favorite neglect-friendly herbs, and how do you use them in recipes?