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Herbs That Grow Well in Zones 5 and 6?

14 years ago

Much hebal lore is from England; additionally, many of the better-known herbs are from the Mediterranean. Books on herbs do not always make it clear which ones can overwinter where, or under what conditions. Authors that should be capable of making the distinction frequently do not, hoping for national appeal for their works.

I am seeking recommendations for herbs that can colonize in zones 5 and 6 in the US, with descriptions of what aspects they need to do well. Do they do better in clay or sand, well drained or swampy? Sunny or shady?

Some herbs seem to need to be divided every couple of years, and this information is also helpful.

I have found one variety of skullcap grows well in my area, but it is a rather small plant and needs protection if not to be crowded out by others. Valerian also seems to be able to hold its own here and has the potential to be long-lasting, even in the rather dry, shady conditions I have been able to provide. Angelica archangelica will reseed itself, given the right conditions. Motherwort and lemon mint/balm can reseed prolifically, to the point of becoming pests, even in partial shade. Most of the mints do well here, chocolate mint only with coddling.

Most of my space is shaded, or has only partial sun, so I personally don't have much to share regarding plants that prefer full sun. I have succeeded in having both the traditional, non-varegated sage and horehound winter over in pots, as well as the basic thyme. However, without division and re-planting, all of these do a fade in a couple of years, horehound actually doing a bit better than the other two.

White horehound is the medicinal one--black horehound is poisonous, and someone in another forum has eported it is weedy.

I did have Coltsfoot overtake a small herb garden one year, but it disappeared soon after.

Oregano will overwinter here, but marjoram does not seem to.

The various elderberry species seem to do OK here, although I have had trouble getting trunks to live if I prune them back. They reseed themselves rather prolifically.

Pokeberry is a perennial weed with an enormous taproot here. In general, the poisonoous herbs seem to do well because of their ability to repel rabbits. Lenten rose, Lily of the Valley, Monkshood, and foxglove also can establish themselves--foxglove more sporadically due to being a biennial and not a true perennial.

Althea, which I believe is a type of hibiscus (not certain if the kind you can make tea from) reseeds itself well, and the little shrubs pop up everywhere.

I have small trees with 2" thorn-like growths from the trunk self-seeded in the wild portion of our yard. The bark is a medium somewhat golden brown with little narrow white markings...possibly a Hawthorn? The bark is almost like that of a young mulberry, which it can't be because of the thorns. The birds sit on the electric wires over that area and seed it with the oddest things. I have always wanted a Hawthorn; hope that's what they are. I have a seedling Honey Locust, and that looks totally different.

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