The temperamental weather this time of year can be frustrating when it comes to deciding what to wear. But these same conditions may be a blessing for your herb garden.
It’s been a weird winter, weather-wise. But this is San Antonio, so warm weather is undoubtedly on its way. And while San Antonio already has prime growing conditions for herbs, this year’s erratic weather conditions may actually allow for especially successful yields.
Certainly warm season herbs are appropriate, but even some cool season herbs can thrive into the spring and summertime. To extend your cool season herbs productivity, be mindful of providing them with the right amount of shade and adequate watering. Herbs such as parsley, sage, bay leaves, chives, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, thyme and mint will flourish in plenty of sun but may require some shade, at least during the fierce afternoon heat.
Some classic warm season herbs that can withstand the sun’s intensity all day long are lavender, basil, dill, fennel, marjoram and catnip. All herbs need sufficient drainage; they will rot in soggy soil. If your herbs are potted, you’ll want to pay special attention to this. Mixing in decomposed granite, expanded shale or sand with your soil can help significantly with proper aeration and drainage.
Some herbs attract repeat visitors, and I don’t mean humans. The colorful flowers and robust fragrances of herbs entice pollinators, some of which have actually coevolved with their herb of choice to become specialists. Herbs like chives, thyme, mint, parsley and marjoram tend to attract butterflies, while bees are drawn to basil, lavender, sage, rosemary and dill.
Hummingbirds are usually attracted to rosemary, mint, lavender and catnip. A word of caution about a pesky, immature pollinator — black swallowtail caterpillars love dill and fennel. So if you’re incorporating these into your garden, you might want to err on the side of excess since they are such a tasty snack to caterpillars.
While the temperamental weather this year may be frustrating when it comes to knowing how to dress or plan for the day, these conditions may be favorable for your herb garden. So use this year’s wacky, warmish weather to your advantage and keep your home herb selection diverse and abundant.