Watching for invaders

Some herbs have a very bad habit: They just don't know when to stop growing.

These so-called invasive herbs travel in the following ways:

  • Seeds: Some plants produce way more seeds than you need. Their little seedlings pop up everywhere, like weeds. Examples of prolific herbs include German chamomile, fennel, and garlic chives. Keep them in check by removing the flowers before they disperse seeds.
  • Roots: With some herbs, such as comfrey and horseradish, your eradication efforts may lead to an even larger patch of the confounded plant. Any bit of root left in the soil may grow into a new plant. Introduce these unruly herbs to your garden with caution.
  • Rhizomes and stolons: Some herbs take off cross-country, growing horizontal stems from their crowns that creep over or under the soil, forming new plants along the way. (Rhizomes grow under and stolons on top of the soil.) These plants are useful for covering large areas or filling gaps between paving stones, but rapidly become a nuisance in other situations. Tansy, mint, and artemisia can be particularly rampant; plant these herbs in containers or in gardens surrounded by 12-inch-deep barriers that prevent the roots from getting out. Pull up escapees as soon as they appear.

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Herbs 101

Herbs 101

Learn what you can do with herbs! How to Plant, Grow, and Cook with Natural Herbs. Have you always wanted an herb garden but didn't know how to get started? Do you want to know more about growing your own herbs in the privacy of your home and using them in a variety of cooking?

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