Lake Kiowa Gardens

Lake Kiowa Herb Garden

It's true, Lake Kiowa has beautiful homes and landscapes! This year why not consider adding a herb garden or at least replacments with herbs for fun. Joseph Masabni, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Ann Wheeler, Log House Herbs, Magnolia, Texas, and Mengmeng Gu, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have recently released some valuable information about Herb landscapes here in Texas you may want to learn more about. We thought this may provide you some additional food for thought this summer as you continue to keep your landcapes and patios full of color and beauty.

Herbs which are an ancient category of the plant world are found most everywhere. Termed "useful plants" these beauties can be used for cooking, making scents and perfumes, practicing aromatherapy, and as types of medicinal options for some illness. Another side benefit is they attract bees, and butterflies to the garden which is not a bad thing.

Because many herbs hybridize readily, new varieties cab be produced every year. Were you aware that some varieties are created for specific markets or needs? Like those for patio gardens, container gardens, dry climates, or areas with salty water or soils. It is also true that 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. So let's consider herbs as part of your landscaping.

Simple principles to help you choose an herb for your garden:

  • 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
  • Some herbs attract beneficial insects like 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 mosquitoes. 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!

In addition to the above, Herbs can be planted and used for specific landscaping needs. Herbs can be used for low hedges and borders, as backgrounds, to fill empty spaces between other plants, in sunny or shady areas, and for their flowers, flavor, or scent. When choosing a spot to plant, keep in mind the herb’s eventual size and shape. Remember that herbs in their 4-inch pots look a lot alike and don’t reflect their final mature size

Herbs can also work well to define the edge line of a garden or to soften the edges. Edging plants can will work with your garden’s sun exposure, and it's easy to cross-reference those below with the list of herbs for shady areas.

Options For Hedges & Borders:

  • Artemisia (Artemisia sp.), especially the smaller varieties like southernwood
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • Germander (Teucrium sp.)
  • Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), curled or Italian
  • Rosemary, prostrate (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Santolina (Santolina sp.), gray and green varieties
  • Thyme (Thymus sp.)
  • Winter savory (Satureja montana)

Herbs As Backgrounds For Empty Spaces:

  • Taller herbs can grow in the very back of a garden, and others can fill spaces between specimen plants like roses. When determining placement, consider the plant’s eventual width as well as its height. Following are some options for herbs of differing heights and widths.

Very tall:

  • African blue basil (Ocimum sp.), very tall
  • Bay (Laurus nobilis), a tall, aromatic, evergreen tree or large bush
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), very tall


  • Artemisia (Artemisia sp.), most are wide
  • ‘Aussie Sweet’ basil (Ocimum sp.), tall and narrow
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), bronze and green varieties
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens), various heights
  • Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), wide
  • Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), wide

Low & Wide:

  • Rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), low and wide Flowering herbs
  • Many herbs produce attractive flowers, which lure bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Some options are:

  • Basil (Ocimum)
  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
  • Borage (Borago officinalis)
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
  • Foxglove (Digitalia purpurea)
  • Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Salvias (Salvia sp.)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Remember that most herbs will require a sunny exposure; gardeners with considerable shade in their garden often despair or fail at growing them so take that to heart. However even sun lovers appreciate afternoon shade in the Texas summertime, and some, like parsley, accept partial shade. If you want to go beyond the general guidelines, each herb has a range of light requirements specific to that plant. If you are a beginning gardener, you might want to consider planting herbs in a container and move it around the garden to try various locations until you find the ideal spot. Try a container for this exercise, but not a tiny container.

A variety of herbs can also tolerate shade, many of which also make an effective ground cover. The best deep shade herb would be Lovage (Levisticum officinale) which grows best during cool weather. It is best grown as an annual in Texas because of the hot summers.

Some partial sun herbs are also listed below:

  • Lemon thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is an ideal perennial for part sun. The plants may decline in August because of the excessive heat in Texas.
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is an evergreen perennial.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an evergreen perennial with nice blooms.
  • Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is suited for partial sun. Shade will prolong its life in the summer. It is a cool-season annual.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an evergreen perennial; some cultivars have nice blooms.
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a year-round evergreen perennial.
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is a very tender perennial and may not survive the winter.

Deep shade to bright sun:

  • Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), a perennial, may go dormant in the heat of summer.
  • Garlic chive (Allium tuberosum) is an evergreen perennial with pretty blooms.
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an evergreen perennial and excellent as ground cover.
  • Mints, including pennyroyal, are evergreen but will go dormant in midsummer. Cut them back in the summer for fall regrowth.

Bright sun to part shade:

  • Parsleys (Petroselinum crispum) are biennial plants that often behave like annuals in Texas, going to seed during first year. They grow well in cool weather.

Bright sun to deep shade:

  • Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), an annual, has dense, frilly leaves with excellent flavor.
  • Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) has thick, succulent-type leaves. The plants are easily rooted and grow best in warm/hot seasons.
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) can tolerate sun or shade. It is an evergreen perennial with white, vanillascented blooms.

Success here at Lake Kiowa in growing herbs begins with the soil. Keeping the soil healthy is the primary work of a gardener. Once you plant and then stay on schedule with harvesting and feeding, remember to try to think about how to improve your soil every day, or at least every season before planting, and then take steps to improve and maintain it. Remember to keep your healthy levels of pH, provide great drainige, and consider raised beds if necessary so no plants sit in water.

Welcome to Summer At Lake Kiowa where the homes are beautiful, the landscapes breathtaking, and the activities are  fun. It's going to be a great summer.