By Julie Martens Forney
Want to add beauty and “sense appeal” to your garden? Grow herbs. These scent-sational plants don’t just boast flavor and fragrance, they’re versatile — and tough — garden plants. Many herbs thrive in spots where other plants fail, especially when you grow drought-tolerant species that hail from places where hot, arid conditions reign. Once herbs are established, they can survive on rainfall.
A few drought-tolerant herbs include lavender (Lavandula spp.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), oregano (Origanum vulgare), and chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). These herbs take off in a rocky environment that generates heat and provides sharp drainage. Tucking these herbs along walks or driveways dresses up those hot, dry spaces. Here are a few other situations where drought-tolerant herbs thrive:
On a slope. Slopes offer fairly goof-proof places to grow drought-tolerant herbs. Thanks to gravity, a slope provides sharp drainage (because water runs downhill), and sharp drainage makes drought-tolerant herbs, such as thyme, feel right at home.
In its native Greece, thyme blankets entire hillsides, forming a living carpet of color. Thyme is evergreen, providing year-round greenery. Starting in late spring or early summer, plants burst into bloom, beckoning bees and other pollinators.
With stone mulch. Drought-tolerant herbs love heat, and stone mulch absorbs sunlight and radiates heat around the plants. A rocky soil covering also helps reduce problems of mildew and other fungal diseases, which can quickly take out drought-tolerant herbs.
If you use pea gravel as mulch or to create paths around herb beds, you create the ideal rooting zone for herb seeds to sprout. This is a great way to gain more herbs such as lavender, rosemary and chamomile.
In raised beds. Raised beds create good drainage because soil is elevated, which allows gravity to drive water downward. German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an annual herb that gladly self-sows, almost to the point of invasiveness. It’s a terrific addition to a vegetable garden because the blossoms beckon pollinators, big-time.
Whether you look to add a little low-maintenance color to a sidewalk planting, slope, vegetable patch, or water garden, consider drought-tolerant herbs. The reward is easy-care beauty that’s useful in the kitchen, pollinator friendly, and fragrant through the entire growing season.