Top 11 Fast-Growing Herbs For Michigan Gardens

Top 11 Fast-Growing Herbs For Michigan Gardens

Add To Your Edible Garden

Growing and nurturing an edible garden can be a very rewarding experience. Annual and perennial herbs can be a great addition to any vegetable garden. There are a several herbs that are easily grown in midwest climates.

Many herbs have a variety of uses, from culinary spices to medicinal and spiritual values. These are our top picks for the fastest-growing herbs for Michigan gardeners.

Learn How To Sustainably Harvest Your Herbs

Sustainably harvesting your herbs means pruning them in a way that will benefit the overall health of your plant. When you harvest sustainably, you can ensure your herb plants will continue to grow and will keep producing for you well into the winter months. Check out this video for a tutorial on how to harvest all of the herbs mentioned in this article!

Top 11 Fast-Growing Herbs For Michigan Gardens

1. Basil

Basil is an annual herb that loves warm weather. It grows quickly and can reach a height of 1 to 2 feet. There are different varieties of basil, including sweet basil, lemon basil, and Thai basil, each with its own unique flavor. Basil can be used to make pesto and pasta sauces, and is commonly used in Italian and Thai cooking.

To grow basil, start by selecting a sunny location with well-draining soil. If planting in the garden, prepare the soil by adding organic matter and ensuring proper drainage. If growing indoors, choose a container with drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix. Sow basil seeds or transplant seedlings after the last frost, spacing them 8 to 12 inches apart. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Provide at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Pinch off the top set of leaves once the basil plants reach around 6 inches tall to encourage bushier growth.

Regularly harvest basil leaves by snipping them close to the stem. This will promote continuous leaf production. Avoid letting the plants flower by removing any flower buds that form, as this can affect the flavor. With proper care and attention to sunlight, watering, and pruning, you’ll enjoy a thriving basil plant with an abundance of fresh, aromatic leaves for use in various culinary delights.

A freshly grown plant of large leaf sweet basil with bright green, shiny leaves.

Sweet Basil Harvested In Illinois

2. Mint

Mint is a perennial herb known for its rapid growth. It spreads vigorously through underground runners, so it’s often recommended to grow it in containers to prevent it from taking over the garden. There are several varieties in the mint family, such as spearmint and peppermint, each with its distinct flavor and fragrance. Mint has many culinary uses, but can also be pressed for essential oils or dried for teas.

Start by selecting a sunny or partially shaded location in your garden with well-draining soil. Mint can be quite vigorous, so it’s often best to grow it in containers or confined spaces to prevent it from spreading uncontrollably. Plant mint cuttings or small plants in the soil, spacing them about 12 inches apart. Water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist but avoid overwatering. Mint prefers moist conditions but can tolerate some dryness.

Harvest mint leaves by snipping the stems just above a leaf node, leaving at least one-third of the plant intact to promote regrowth. Regular harvesting encourages bushier growth. Be aware that mint plants can be invasive, so it’s important to contain the plant’s growth by regularly trimming back runners or growing it in pots. With minimal effort, you can enjoy a steady supply of aromatic and flavorful mint leaves for use in cocktails, desserts, and herbal tea.

A bright green peppermint plant that is fast-growing in Michigan gardens.

Peppermint

3. Chives

Chives are a hardy perennial herb that grows quickly in Michigan gardens. These are in the allium family of plants, several of which are native to Michigan. They produce thin, grass-like leaves with a mild onion flavor. Chives also produce edible flowers that have a mild onion flavor. This perennial herb requires little maintenance and is one of the easiest herbs to grow in your garden.

Start by selecting a sunny location in your garden or a suitable container for growing chives indoors. Chives prefer well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH. Plant chive seeds or small chive plants in the soil, spacing them about 6 to 12 inches apart. Water the plants regularly to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Chives can tolerate periods of drought but grow best with consistent moisture.

Harvest chives by snipping the leaves near the base, allowing a few inches of growth to remain for regrowth. Regular harvesting promotes continuous leaf production. Chives can be harvested from early spring through summer and even into fall. With minimal effort, you can enjoy the mild onion flavor and attractive, grass-like foliage of chives in a variety of culinary creations, such as soups, salads, omelets, and garnishes.

Fresh chives with edible purple flowers are great additions to Michigan gardens.

Chives

4. Oregano

Oregano is a perennial herb that grows well in Michigan’s climate. It is known for its robust flavor and is commonly used in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. It grows into a bushy plant and can reach a height of 1 to 2 feet. Oregano is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine and can also be used to infuse oils and teas.

Oregano prefers well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH. Plant oregano seeds or small oregano plants in the soil, spacing them about 12 to 18 inches apart. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Oregano is relatively drought-tolerant once established but benefits from consistent moisture.

Prune oregano regularly to promote bushier growth and prevent it from becoming leggy. Harvest oregano leaves by snipping the stems just above a leaf node, allowing the plant to regrow. Oregano leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season. With proper care, you can enjoy the robust flavor and aroma of oregano in various culinary dishes, such as pizzas, pastas, sauces, and marinades. Oregano is also known for its ornamental value with its attractive foliage and clusters of small, pink or purple flowers.

Oregano and parsley are great herb options to plant in September in Michigan.

Oregano by S. Dillon

5. Thyme

Thyme is a low-growing perennial herb that can tolerate cooler temperatures in Michigan. It has aromatic leaves and is often used in soups, stews, and roasted dishes. It forms woody stems and can reach a height of 6 to 12 inches. Thyme is a favorite herb for many recipes, but is also commonly grown as a ground cover or grass alternative.

Thyme prefers well-draining soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Plant thyme seeds or small thyme plants in the soil, spacing them about 12 to 18 inches apart. Water the plants regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Thyme is drought-tolerant and prefers slightly drier conditions.

Prune thyme regularly to promote compact growth and prevent it from becoming woody. Harvest thyme leaves by snipping the stems just above a leaf node, allowing the plant to regrow. Thyme leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season. With proper care, you can enjoy the aromatic and earthy flavor of thyme in various culinary dishes, such as roasted meats, soups, stews, and marinades.

Oregano and parsley are great herb options to plant in September in Michigan.

Oregano by S. Dillon

6. Cilantro

Cilantro is an annual herb. It is one of the fastest growing herbs on this list, particularly in cooler weather. It produces lacy leaves with a distinctive flavor commonly used in Mexican, Indian, and Asian cuisines. Cilantro produces coriander seeds, which are used in many culinary applications as well. Cilantro is a great herb to start with if you are a beginner gardener as it is very easy to grow.

Cilantro prefers a sunny or partially shaded spot with well-draining soil. Sow cilantro seeds directly in the soil, as it doesn’t transplant well. Keep the soil evenly moist during the germination period. Once the plants have established, water them regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Cilantro grows best in cooler temperatures, so try to provide some shade during hot summer months.

Regularly harvest cilantro leaves by snipping the outer leaves near the base, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. This encourages a bushier plant and prolongs the harvest period. Cilantro leaves are commonly used in various cuisines, such as Mexican, Thai, and Indian, to add a fresh and vibrant flavor to dishes like salsas, curries, and salads. With proper care and attention to watering and harvesting, you can enjoy a bountiful supply of cilantro throughout the growing season.

Fresh cilantro grown from a window planter in Michigan.

Cilantro

7. Dill

Dill is an annual herb that grows rapidly and can reach a height of 2 to 3 feet. It has feathery, aromatic leaves and produces umbrella-shaped flower heads that attract beneficial insects. Dill can be easily dried for preservation, and is also commonly used to make homemade pickles and other pickled vegetables.

Dill prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Sow dill seeds directly in the soil, as it doesn’t transplant well. Keep the soil consistently moist during the germination period. Once the plants have established, water them regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Dill thrives in cooler temperatures, so it’s best to plant it in early spring or late summer. As the plants grow, provide support or stake them to prevent lodging.

Harvest dill leaves by snipping the foliage near the base, allowing the plant to continue producing new growth. The leaves are commonly used as a flavoring in various cuisines, particularly in pickles, fish dishes, and dips. Additionally, dill produces small yellow flowers that attract beneficial insects. By following these simple steps, you can enjoy the fresh, aromatic flavors of dill in your culinary endeavors.

Large, mature dill plants shoot out from a Michigan herb garden.

Dill

8. Sage

Sage is a perennial herb that grows well in Michigan gardens. It has gray-green leaves with a strong, earthy flavor. Sage prefers well-drained soil and full sun. It forms woody stems and can reach a height of 1 to 2 feet. Sage can be used in many recipes and is also used in some spiritual ceremonies.

Sage prefers well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH. Plant sage seeds or small sage plants in the soil, spacing them about 18 to 24 inches apart. Water the plants regularly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Sage is drought-tolerant and prefers drier conditions. Prune sage regularly to promote bushier growth and prevent it from becoming leggy.

Harvest sage leaves by snipping the stems just above a leaf node, allowing the plant to regenerate. Sage leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season. With proper care, you can enjoy the earthy and aromatic flavor of sage in various culinary dishes, such as stuffing, roasted meats, soups, and sauces. Sage is also known for its ornamental value with its soft, gray-green leaves and can be used as a landscaping plant or in decorative plantings.

Fresh sage growing in a Michigan herb garden.

Sage

9. Parsley

Parsley is a biennial herb commonly grown as an annual in gardens. It has curly or flat leaves and is used as a garnish or in cooking.  Parsley can grow up to 1 to 2 feet in height. Parsley is a favorite herb for many Italian dishes and curly parsley is commonly used as a decorative garnish on salad bars and food displays.

Parsley thrives in a sunny to partially shaded spot with well-draining soil. Plant parsley seeds directly in the soil, as it doesn’t transplant well. Keep the soil evenly moist during the germination period, which can take several weeks. Once the plants have established, water them regularly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry between waterings. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot. Parsley plants grow best in cooler temperatures, so it’s ideal to plant it in early spring or late summer.

Harvest parsley leaves by snipping the outer leaves near the base, allowing the inner leaves to continue growing. This encourages continuous leaf production and extends the harvest period. Parsley is a versatile herb used in a variety of culinary dishes, such as soups, salads, sauces, and garnishes. By following these steps and providing the right care, you can enjoy a bountiful supply of fresh and flavorful parsley throughout the growing season.

Curley parsley is often used as a garnish.

Curly Parsley

10. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a fast-growing and low maintenance perennial herb that emits a lemony fragrance. It has heart-shaped leaves and can tolerate various soil conditions. Lemon balm grows rapidly and spreads easily. This herb is commonly used in teas and tinctures, but is also a great herb to use as mosquito repellent!

Lemon balm thrives in a sunny to partially shaded spot with well-draining soil. Plant lemon balm seeds or small lemon balm plants in the soil, spacing them about 12 to 18 inches apart. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Lemon balm enjoys consistently moist conditions. Prune lemon balm regularly to encourage bushier growth and prevent it from becoming leggy.

Harvest the fragrant leaves of lemon balm by snipping the stems just above a leaf node, allowing the plant to regrow. Lemon balm leaves have a refreshing lemony scent and are commonly used in herbal teas, infused water, desserts, and savory dishes. With proper care, you can enjoy the delightful aroma and flavor of lemon balm in your garden and culinary creations.

Lemon balm freshly grown from an outdoor herb garden in Michigan.

Lemon Balm

11. Marjoram

Marjoram is a flavorful herb that thrives in Michigan gardens. It establishes easily and can grow quickly. This herb is a popular choice for seasoning meats, specifically lamb and pork. Marjoram is also used for its medicinal properties, which include aiding in digestion and anti-inflammatory properties.

Marjoram prefers well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH. Plant marjoram seeds or small marjoram plants in the soil, spacing them about 12 to 18 inches apart. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Marjoram enjoys consistent moisture but be careful not to overwater. Prune marjoram regularly to promote bushier growth and prevent it from becoming leggy.

Harvest marjoram leaves by snipping the stems just above a leaf node, allowing the plant to continue producing new growth. Marjoram leaves have a delicate and sweet flavor, making them ideal for seasoning various dishes such as soups, stews, roasted vegetables, and marinades. With proper care and attention to watering and pruning, you can enjoy a steady supply of fresh marjoram leaves for culinary use throughout the growing season.

Fresh marjoram in a Michigan vegetable garden edged with herbs.

Marjoram and Fall Herbs by H.

Using Native Plants In Landscaping

Many of your favorite herbs can easily be grown in your garden. If you have a sunny windowsill or south-facing window, these can also be grown in an indoor herb garden to extend your growing season. These popular culinary herbs result in a quick harvest that can be utilized in a variety of ways.

​If you’re new to gardening, growing herbs is a great place to start! Add herbs to your vegetable garden for deer protection and to add even more beautiful edible plants to your yard. Try out one of these fast-growing herbs listed above for an easy and bountiful harvest ahead!