The Best Herbs to Plant In Fall (Easy Guide)

Fall is a magical time for gardeners, with cooler temperatures and the anticipation of bountiful harvests filling the air. While many gardeners are busy picking the last of their summer crops, this is also the perfect time to plan and plant your perennial herb garden. Perennial herbs are a fantastic addition to any garden, providing fresh flavors and medicinal benefits year after year. In this guide, we’ll explore what herbs to plant in fall, focusing on the best practices for growing them. Whether you have mild winters or face colder climates, there’s a perfect perennial herb waiting to thrive in your garden.

Let’s delve into the world of perennial herbs and discover how you can make the most of the fall season to create a vibrant and sustainable herb garden.

What Are Perennial Herbs?

Perennial herbs are plants that have a lifespan of more than two years. Unlike annual herbs, which complete their life cycle in one growing season, perennial herbs keep coming back year after year, making them a sustainable and low-maintenance choice for your garden.

The Benefits of Growing Perennial Herbs

1. Continuous Harvest

Perennial herbs provide a continuous harvest throughout the growing season, from early spring to late fall. This means you can enjoy fresh culinary herbs for an extended period.

2. Low Maintenance

Once established, perennial herbs are generally low maintenance. They require less effort than annual herbs, which need to be replanted each year.

3. Medicinal Purposes

Many perennial herbs have medicinal properties and can be used in herbal remedies. For example, lemon balm is known for its calming effects, while thyme has antibacterial properties.

4. Ornamental Value

Perennial herbs often have attractive features, such as gray-green leaves or fragrant flowers, making them a great addition to landscape beds and flower gardens.

5. Drought Tolerance

Some perennial herbs, like lavender, are drought-tolerant, making them suitable for regions with limited water resources.

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of growing perennial herbs, let’s explore the best practices for planting and maintaining them in the fall.

What Herbs To Plant In Fall

Choosing the right herbs to plant in your garden during the fall is a crucial step that sets the foundation for a thriving herb garden. When making your selections, consider various factors such as hardiness zones, sunlight requirements, and your personal culinary preferences. Here, we’ll delve deeper into some popular perennial herbs to give you a comprehensive starting point for your garden:

1. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, is a delightful herb that thrives in a range of conditions, from full sun to partial shade. Its fragrant leaves emit a refreshing lemony scent when crushed, making it a favorite for teas, desserts, and even cocktails. Lemon balm not only adds a burst of flavor but also attracts pollinators to your garden with its small white flowers.

Lemon balm herbs in glasses

2. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme is a classic culinary herb renowned for its aromatic and earthy flavor. This herb flourishes in full sun and well-drained soil, making it an excellent choice for seasoning meat dishes, enhancing the depth of flavor in soups and stews, or simply garnishing your favorite dishes. Its low-growing, creeping habit also makes it a charming addition to the garden landscape.

Thyme herbs plant growing in a garden in fall

3. Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum)

For lovers of Mediterranean cuisine, Greek oregano is an indispensable herb. It craves full sun and offers a robust, pungent flavor that elevates dishes like pizza, pasta, and grilled vegetables. This herb’s grey-green leaves are not only flavorful but also visually appealing, making it a standout in any garden bed.

Closeup of oregano herbs plant growing in a pot in fall

4. Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora)

Lemon verbena, an evergreen herb, thrives when basking in full sun. Its slender, lemon-scented leaves are a treasure trove of flavor, perfect for infusing into beverages like tea or adding a fragrant touch to desserts. This herb’s ornamental value extends to its delicate white flowers, which can lend an ethereal charm to your garden.

Closeup of lemon verbena herbs

5. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Parsley, with its vibrant green foliage, is a versatile herb that can be grown in both full sun and partial shade. It’s a staple in numerous culinary dishes worldwide, offering a fresh and slightly peppery taste. Whether you’re adding it to salads, garnishing main courses, or incorporating it into sauces, parsley’s moist soil preference and adaptability make it a must-have herb for every herb garden.

Closeup of parsley herbs growing in front of white background

6. Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

These chives, distinct for their mild garlic flavor, thrive in conditions that include full sun and well-drained soil. With their slender, strap-like leaves, they not only add a subtle garlic kick to salads and stir-fries but also contribute an ornamental element to your garden with their graceful growth habit. Garlic chives are an excellent choice for gardeners seeking versatility and easy cultivation.

Garlic chive herbs growing in garden soil in fall

When selecting perennial herbs for your fall garden, keep in mind that these herbs will not only provide you with fresh flavors but also enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden beds. Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast or simply enjoy the beauty of fragrant herbs, choosing the right combination of herbs will set the stage for a rewarding gardening experience.

Preparing Your Garden Bed For Herbs

Before you plant perennial herbs in the fall, it’s essential to prepare your garden bed properly. Here’s how to do it:

1. Choose the Right Location

Most perennial herbs prefer full sun, which means they need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Select a sunny spot in your garden for optimal growth.

2. Ensure Good Drainage

Herbs dislike soggy soil. To prevent waterlogging, amend your soil with organic matter to improve drainage.

3. Clear the Area

Remove any weeds or debris from the designated garden bed. This ensures your herbs won’t have to compete for nutrients.

4. Consider Companion Planting

Some herbs, like basil and rosemary, make excellent companions for other vegetables. They can deter pests and improve the flavor of neighboring plants.

How to Plant Herbs in Fall

Now that your garden bed is ready, it’s time to plant your perennial herbs. Here’s the best way to go about it:

1. Dig the Hole

Dig a hole for each herb that is slightly larger than the root ball of the plant. Ensure there’s enough space between each plant for them to grow without crowding.

2. Place the Herb

Gently remove the herb from its container and place it in the hole. Ensure that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.

3. Backfill and Water

Fill the hole with soil and water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots. This helps prevent air pockets.

4. Mulch

Apply a layer of mulch around the herbs to help retain moisture and keep the soil temperature stable.

How to Care for Your Perennial Herbs

Fall planting provides your perennial herbs with a head start for the following spring. However, they still require proper care to thrive. Here are some essential care tips:

1. Watering

Water your herbs regularly, especially during dry spells. It’s essential to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

2. Pruning

Trim your herbs regularly to encourage bushy growth and prevent them from becoming too leggy. Pruning also helps maintain the plant’s shape.

3. Fertilizing

Herbs typically don’t require heavy fertilization. A light application of balanced fertilizer in the spring should suffice.

4. Harvesting

You can start harvesting your perennial herbs once they have established strong growth. Be sure to leave enough foliage for the plant to continue thriving.

Perennial Herbs for Different Climates

The ideal time for planting perennial herbs in the fall can vary depending on your climate. Let’s explore the best practices for both milder and colder climates.

Perennial Herbs in Milder Climates

If you live in a region with mild winters, fall is an excellent time to plant perennial herbs. Here’s why:

1. Cool Weather

Milder climates typically experience cool temperatures in the fall, which are ideal for herb establishment. The herbs have enough time to develop strong root systems before winter.

2. Extended Growing Season

With mild winters, you can enjoy your perennial herbs throughout the fall and into the early winter months.

3. Continuous Harvest

Herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage thrive in milder climates. They’ll provide you with fresh flavors all year round.

Perennials Herbs in Colder Climates

Gardening in colder climates presents some challenges, but with the right approach, you can still enjoy a thriving perennial herb garden. Here’s how:

1. Fall Season Preparation

In colder climates, you’ll need to prepare your herbs for the harsh winter. After the first frost, add a layer of mulch around the base of your herbs to insulate them.

2. Hardiness Zones

Choose perennial herbs that are well-suited to your hardiness zone. Some, like sage and lavender, are hardy and can withstand colder temperatures.

3. Indoor Herb Garden

Consider growing some herbs indoors in pots or containers. Bring them inside before the first winter frost to ensure they survive until spring.

Fall Harvest and Maintenance

As the fall season progresses, you’ll have the opportunity to harvest your perennial herbs and prepare them for the winter. Here’s how to make the most of your fall herb harvest:

Late Fall Harvest

In late fall, it’s time to gather the last of your herbs before the first frost arrives. Harvesting at this time is ideal because the herbs are at their peak flavor.

1. Use Scissors or Pruners

To avoid damaging the plant, use scissors or pruners to snip off the herb branches. Leave enough foliage on the plant to continue growing.

2. Dry or Preserve

You can dry herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary by hanging them upside down in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, consider making herb-infused oils or freezing chopped herbs in ice cube trays.

3. Cut Back Perennials

After harvesting, cut back your perennial herbs to remove dead or yellowing foliage. This prepares the plant for the winter months.

Late Fall Maintenance

1. Mulching

Add a thick layer of mulch around your perennial herbs to insulate them from freezing temperatures. This will help protect their roots and ensure they return vigorously in the spring.

2. Covering Tender Herbs

If you have particularly tender herbs, like lemon verbena, consider covering them with a breathable fabric or cloche to shield them from frost.

3. Indoor Herb Care

If you’re growing herbs in containers, bring them inside before the first frost. Place them near a sunny window to ensure they continue growing during the winter months.


Fall is undoubtedly the best time to plant perennial herbs in your garden, regardless of whether you have mild or cold winters. These hardy and flavorful plants provide continuous harvests, making them an essential addition to any culinary or medicinal herb garden. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’ll give your perennial herbs the best chance to thrive and provide you with fresh herbs year after year.

So, as the fall season approaches, take advantage of the cool weather, prepare your garden bed, and enjoy the pleasure of growing and harvesting your favorite perennial herbs. Whether it’s the delicate aroma of lemon balm or the robust flavor of Greek oregano, your fall herb garden is sure to be a source of joy and sustenance for years to come.

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