Herbs for Texas Landscape

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Herbs are an ancient category of the plant world. Found almost everywhere, herbs have been defined generally as “the useful plants.” Besides adding beauty, herbs are used for cooking, making scents and perfumes, practicing aromatherapy, herbal healing in folklore and in modern medicine, and attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.

Because many herbs hybridize readily, new varieties are produced every year. Varieties are created for specific markets or needs, such as for patio gardens, container gardens, dry climates, or areas with salty water or soils. Herbs can also play a role in landscaping: Does the location need tall plants, shade-tolerant plants, ground covers? Different herbs can meet a variety of needs.

The following are simple principles to help you choose an herb for your garden: 

  • Your herbs need not be used for cooking; in fact, many herbs are not culinary at all. 
  • Many herbs, such as basil, are fragrant when brushed against. Consider planting them near a path or doorway.
  • Match the herb’s sunlight requirements with sites that meet those needs. 
  • Many herbs attract beneficial insects such as bees and ladybugs. Examples are anise hyssop, borage, comfrey, fennel, and yarrow. Pineapple sage attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. 
  • Herbs also repel less-desirable visitors: Rosemary (cabbage moths, carrot flies, and bean beetles), chives (aphids, mites), sage (flea beetles), and mint (aphids, cabbage moths, flea beetles). The aromatic properties of some herbs (rosemary, Russian sage, bee balm) are even reported to fend off hungry deer.
  • Anecdotal evidence tells us that pairings of specific herbs with specific plants benefit the plants; for example, rue planted near roses produces a
  • root chemical that repels Japanese beetle grubs, which feed on the roses’ roots. Basil planted near tomatoes deters flies and mosquitos. Catnip
  • deters ants, flea beetles, and weevils. Hyssop planted near cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli deters cabbage moths.
  • Think texture—herbs are champions in this area! 
Joseph Masabni
Ann Wheeler
Mengmeng Gu
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service