These herbs are all perennials with the exception of borage which is a prolific self-seedin biennial. Because the low lying areas of Clark County are in hardiness zone 8, these plants shouldn’t require any special winterization. For those of you who live in the outlying hills, rosemary especially could use some mulching to get through the hard periods of winter we’ve had the past few years. This group of herbs will also supply flowers in a variety of colors beginning in late spring and continuing through early fall. The cool thing about not only these herbs but herbs generally is they have so many uses and these in particular will be well liked by pollinators.
Chives – a member of the onion family, they are a versatile culinary herb but the purple flowers are also edible. Bees find them particularly “edible”. They are full of small seeds and will easily seed and take over an area. If that isn’t what you want to happen, give the bees a few days and then trim off the flowers. More will be produced. Once you have a chive bed started, that should be all you’ll ever need.
Rosemary – a woody stem-like bush plant that grows to 3 feet. It likes full sun and semi-moist soil. It has small white, pink or bluish flowers that extend up the tall stems. Rosemary has many culinary, cosmetic and medicinal uses. Best started from a planting.
Comfrey – this is a big plant (3-5 feet with a dep tap root) with very large oval-shaped leaves. The flowers form in clusters on top of tall stems and droop downward. They come in violet (the plant for medicinal purposes), creamy (wild) and pink (ornamental). This a good plant to attract hummingbirds. It will dye back in winter but springs forth in early spring.
Borage – a large plant (2-3 feet tall and wide) with many stem branches that produce lots of blue flower clusters. Attractive to bees, butterflies and many other pollinators, this self-seeding annual also provides leaves for human consumption and flowers perfect for salads, baked confections and drinks. The leaves and stems have a cucumber taste and the flowers make colorful ice cubes.
Catnip - Bees love this perennial plant as much as cats do! Great in teas for people to help ease stress and anxiety. Protect plants from cats with cages. Starts from seed easily in spring or fall. It is not a tall plant unless it is pruned regularly and becomes more bush like. Because it is a member of the mint family, the lavender flowers stand straight on top of stems.
Lavender – this is a low shrub with many branches with tight clusters of small purplish, pink, blue or white flowers at the end of a long stalk. Lavender comes in many varieties and are best started from plants. When it blooms in late June through July, the plants may be covered with bumblebees. When you harvest be careful to not bring the bees indoors but always leave a few branches for the bees to continue their harvest. Lavender has many cosmetic and craft uses and is also found in the famous French herb blend Herbes de Provence.
Bee Balm or Bergamot – grows to 2-4 feet with bright large blooms in pink, scarlet, white and lavender. This is a great attractor for hummingbirds. It makes a great tea and some people find the flowers good in salads. Keep the flowers dead-headed to keep it blooming.
Lemon Balm - An outstanding herb for teas, butters, and baked goods. The flowers are highly attractive to bees and also provide a sweet lemony taste for people. As a member of the mint family, it grows 15 – 24 inches. The small white cluster of flowers at the top of the stems are not showy but attractive to pollinators.
Anise Hyssop - Beloved by hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as bees, this attractive perennial provides a tasty addition to teas and medicinal infusions for coughs and respiratory problems. It grows 2-3 feet tall and can be started from seeds. It has 4-6 inch spiky flowers that are blue to violet.
Pineapple Sage – this is a large plant (3-4 feet) that isn’t like typical sage. It is a tender perennial and dies back in fall if kept outside. It grows well in a container and will do fine all year round in moderate temperatures or brought indoors. It has gorgeous red spiky trumpet like flowers and gives pollinators a late season infusion before winter sets in.
Enjoy your spring planting and keep the pollinators in mind as you buy new plants. Wherever you buy your plants we encourage you to purchase from an organic or natural grower to ensure heathy pollinator-friendly plants not treated with toxic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides which could be harmful to the birds and the bees and the butterflies.