Herbs F - O

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 Updated 08/05/2017

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A page listing information and growing advice on a selection of herbs starting with the letters f to o.

The other herbs are listed on A - E and P - Z. If you are looking to buy herb seeds in the UK, check out our shop.


Latin name: Tanacetum parthenium.

Family: Compositae.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

History: As its name suggests Feverfew has traditionally been used as a medicine to reduce fever and pain.

How to grow: The seeds are best started off in trays and transplanted when large enough to handle.

Soil condition/position: Feverfew likes a sunny position.

Appearance: Feverfew grows to 45cmand has yellow centred, white petalled flowers.

Uses: The dried leaves are used as a tea to relieve migraine and arthritis. Some people advocate eating the leaves raw on a daily basis as a cure for migraine. The leaves have a most unpleasant taste so probably only one very small leaf would be feasible.

French Sorrel

Latin name: Rumex scutatus.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

How to grow: This herb is easy to grow from seed.

Soil condition/position: French sorrel likes partial shade and ordinary soil.

Appearance: Large leaved, growing to a height of 30cm.

Uses: French Sorrel can be cooked like spinach or used to make soup. In France it is used with rabbit dishes. It has a very lemony taste.

Garlic Chives

Latin name: Allium schoenoprasum.

Family: Lilaceae.

Growing pattern: Annual.

History: One type of chive was originally cultivated in China and was probably used throughout Asia.

How to grow: Chives are grown from seed. It needs to be re-sown every 2-3 years as the flavour tends to diminish. Sow in shallow drills at the beginning of March. Thin the seedlings to 30cm apart. Chives can be grown in a container. In spring or autumn the clumps can be divided and the flowers should always be cut off to maintain flavour for as long as possible.

Soil condition/position: Moist, rich soil. Can be put in pots during the autumn and be brought indoors to provide a winter supply.

Appearance: Chives grow to 30cm in height and have thin grass like leaves which grow from clumps of tiny bulbs. The flowers are small, round and pale mauve in colour.

Uses: Chives are good in omelettes, scrambled eggs and in all sorts of salads. They can be chopped up very finely and sprinkled over cooked new potatoes.


Latin name: Allium sativum.

Family: Liliaceae.

Growing pattern: Perennial bulb.

History: In ancient times garlic was believed to strengthen. The labourers who built the Egyptian pyramids ate it daily and Roman soldiers were given it to keep them going on marches and in battle.

How to grow: Plant individual cloves in open ground or in pots. If in open ground space them 15cm apart. Place cloves to a depth of 5cm. Keep well watered in dry weather. Harvest in late summer when the green tops die down. Dry the bulbs in a cool airy place and store for use.

Soil condition/position: Garlic prefers a rich, moist soil in a sunny position.

Appearance: Garlic grows up to 60cm high. The part used is the bulb, which is pale in colour and covered in a white, papery skin. Each bulb is made up of several small cloves.

Uses: Used in garlic butter, garlic oil, vinegar and mayonnaise. Add it to mince, lamb and hummus. Try it baked whole - it becomes much milder.

If you have a question about Garlic, have a look at our reader's question page on Garlic.

Good King Henry

Latin name: Chenopodium bonus henricus.

Family: Chenopodiaceae.

Growing pattern: Annual.

History: In ancient times this herb was also called Mercury or Wild Spinach.

How to grow: The seeds of Good King Henry can be sown outdoors in the late spring or early summer. Thin the seedlings to 45cm apart. The herb will often seed itself.

Soil condition/position: Good King Henry likes light, rich soil and is often found in the wild.

Appearance: Good King Henry grows to a height of 30cm. its leaves are arrow shaped and it tastes very much like spinach.

Uses: The leaves can be cooked as spinach and they can be eaten raw in salads. The young shoots are very good tied together in bundles and cooked and eaten like asparagus.


Latin name: Humulus lupulus.

Family: Cannabinaceae.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

History: The hop has been used in Britain since the 16th century.

How to grow: Hop seeds can be sown outside in late spring. The seedlings should be thinned to 15-30cm. The plants need support and should be kept well-watered if the weather is dry. Top dress the plants in spring. The hop can also be propagated by root division.

Soil condition/position: Rich, moist soil in light shade.

Appearance: The Hop is a vigorous vine. The female cones are a greenish yellow in colour and the male flowers have 5 tiny petals hanging in loose bunches.

Uses: In summer the young hop shoots can be boiled until tender and served with melted butter and a twist of lemon. They can also be used in soup. Pillows stuffed with dried hops are said to promote sleep and hop tea taken last thing at night is soothing. It is the female cones which are gather, dried and used for beer and ale flavouring.

If you have a question about Hop, have a look at our reader's question page on Hop.


Latin name:(Cochlearia) Armoracia rusticana.

Family: Cruciferae.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

History: Traditionally Horseradish was used medicinally for rheumatism and chest problems. It should be used with great caution as it can cause inflammation. Horseradish sauce is a well known traditional accompaniment for roast beef.

How to grow: Buy several horseradish roots and plant in early spring 30cm apart. Water well if the weather is dry.

Soil condition/position: Grow in ridges in rich soil and dig up roots for use in autumn.

Appearance: A long stalked plant with dark green oval leaves growing up to 1m tall. It has off-white flowers which appear in mid-to-late summer. The roots are very hard to get rid of once the roots are established.

Uses: The main use for this herb is to make horseradish sauce by grating the roots.


Latin name: Hyssopus officinale.

Family: Labiatae.

Growing pattern: Hardy Perennial Evergreen.

History: Hyssop was used in the Middle East many years B.C. Its main value was for preserving meat and as a cleansing herb. It is one of the herbs which traditionally has been used to flavour Chartreuse liqueur.

How to grow: Start hyssop seeds off under glass and when planting out space seedlings 60cm apart. Hyssop will seed itself but cuttings are a more reliable method of replacing your garden supply. It can also be increased by root division in the spring and autumn. Hyssop will grow happily in a container and prefers a light, well-drained soil.

Soil condition/position: Hyssop likes a sunny place. For a continuous supply of leaves cut the plant close to the ground just before the first flowers open.

Appearance: Hyssop grows to 45cm and has very attractive flowers which grow in spikes and are either deep blue or pink. the flowers are very fragrant and attractive to bees. It has a minty taste and its woody stems have small pointed leaves.

Uses: The leaves can be added to salads or to rabbit or lamb stew. Traditionally Hyssop is added to cranberries, stewed peaches and apricots. An infusion of Hyssop makes a good cough remedy and hot Hyssop tea is good for catarrh and colds on the chest.


Latin name:Juniperus communis.

Family: Pinaceae (Cupressaceae).

Growing pattern: Evergreen shrub.

History: Traditionally used to give gin its taste. Also Juniper branches were burnt for fumigation purposes.

How to grow: Sow juniper seeds in a cold frame in spring and plant out in permanent position one year later. It can be propagated by stem cuttings in early autumn. Bring the cuttings on in sandy soil under glass. Male and female plants are needed for berries to be produced.

Soil condition/position: Juniper likes good garden soil and a well drained position.

Appearance: Juniper had grey/green leaves and can grow up to 12 feet in height. The leaves are thin and pointed and the flowers are small and yellow. The green berries take 2 years to mature, eventually turning blue/black in colour. When ready gather the berries in autumn and dry for use.

Uses: The berries are usually dried for use. They can be added to pork and venison and they can be used as a substitute for a bay leaf (4 berries = 1 bay leaf). The berries can be added to stuffing for rich meat like goose or duck and added to cabbage water and the water in which a ham is being boiled. Tea made from the berries is supposed to have a diuretic quality (not to be used by those with any kidney trouble) and it is good for bronchial complaints and indigestion.


Latin name: Lavandula.

Family: Labiatae.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

History: Used in Tudor knot gardens. Historically used in food and medicine.

How to grow: Lavender can be grown from seed. Sow the seeds when the soil is warm and danger of frost is over. Set seedlings at about 75cm apart for the larger varieties and 40cm apart for dwarf types. Cuttings can be grown in boxes of sand in summer ready for planting out next spring.

Soil condition/position: Well drained, limed soil in a sheltered position. Lavender may need protection in winter. It makes a nice low hedge.

Appearance: Small shrub which grows up to 90cm high. Very fragrant blue, pink or white flowers grow up the flower stems in spikes.

Uses: Used in rubbing oils for sore joints. An infusion can be used as a cold compress for headaches. Added to many cosmetics lavender has always been valued for its perfume. Lavender bags are used for linen and Lavender is again being used in cooking, for example in ice cream and biscuits.

If you have a question about Lavender, have a look at our reader's question page on Lavender.

Lemon Balm

Latin name: Melissa officinalis.

Family: Labiatae.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

History: Lemon Balm comes from the Middle East where it was used as a tea. In this country it was used as a fragrant strewing herb for floors.

How to grow: The seeds of the Lemon Balm take a very long time to germinate but the plant can be grown from stem cuttings in the spring and autumn. Set the cuttings 30 centimetres apart.

Soil condition/position: Plant in a sunny border. Any type of soil is suitable but the best fragrance will come from plants grown in a rich, moist soil. Lemon Balm spreads rapidly so it needs to be cut back to keep it under control. It can be grown in a container.

Appearance: Lemon Balm grows to a height of 75 centimetres and has very small white flowers. the leaves carry the scent and bees love the plant.

Uses: The leaves can be added to cooked dishes and dried they make balm tea which is good for headaches (Melissa is very popular in France). A chicken covered in balm leaves and roasted will be moist and fragrant. It makes a good stuffing for lamb and pork. Lemon Balm can also be added to fruit drinks, ice cream fruit and vegetable salads. The dried leaves are used for tea and pot pourri.

Lemon Verbena

Latin name: Lippia citriodora.

Family: Verbenaceae.

Growing pattern: Tender perennial.

History: The plant originated from South America.

How to grow: You need to either buy a plant or take stem cuttings.

Soil condition/position: Soil can be poor and dry but needs a sheltered warm place and will need protecting during the cold weather.

Appearance: The shrub can grow to 5 feet in height and has long narrow leaves which are highly scented smelling of lemon. It will bloom in late summer the flowers being tiny and white or lilac in colour.

Uses: Lemon Verbena can be used in fruit dishes, jellies, punches, added to baked custard or home made ice cream. The leaves dry very well and can be used to make a mildly sedative tea. the leaves can also be put among linen and in pot-pourri. make an infusion of the leaves and add to your bath. An infusion is also said to be good for cleaning the teeth.


Latin name: Levisticum officinale.

Family: Apaceae.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

History: Lovage was used in early times as a bath herb. It cleans and deodorizes the skin.

How to grow: Sow Lovage seeds in the spring if in its permanent position or in summer if you want to transplant the plants in the autumn. Only a few plants are needed. The roots can be divided in the spring just as the leaves appear. Make sure that the roots have a shoot and replant them 60 cm apart.

Soil condition/position: Lovage requires a moist, sunny position. Plant them at the back of the herb garden as they grow very tall.

Appearance: Grows to 150cm plus.

Uses: Lovage leaves are used in soups and gravies. The leaves have a celery like taste and so it can be used to good effect in vegetable soup. The young stalks and leaves are tasty cooked as a vegetable. Peel or scrape the stalks, chop them and boil in salted water until tender. Serve with a white sauce. The crushed seeds and chopped leaves can be added to omelettes, the seeds having the stronger flavour. The young stems of Lovage can be candied like Angelica and a good cordial can be made from this. Lovage broth made from the seeds is traditionally a diuretic and appetite stimulant.


Latin name: Calendula officinalis.

Family: Compositae.

Growing pattern: Annual.

History: The marigold originally came from India where it was used to decorate temple altars. It has long been valued as a medicine and for cosmetic and culinary Uses:.

How to grow: The Marigold seeds very well and will come up year after year. Sow the seeds in the spring and thin out the seedlings to 45-60cm apart. The plants will spread out and become bushy.

Soil condition/position: Marigolds prefer light rich soil in a sunny position.

Appearance: The Marigold is a bright orange or yellow flower with a strong spicy smell.

Uses: An infusion of the flowers will soothe tired, swollen feet and an ointment made from the petals is good for soothing the skin. Marigold tea made from the petals is pleasant especially if sweetened with honey. This tea is said to be good for the skin and helpful to the circulation. Fresh petals can be added to rice, cheese and egg dishes. The petals can also be added to custards, Marigold Pie and baked sponge pudding. The fresh petals make a colourful and spicy addition to green salads.

If you have a question about Marigold, have a look at our reader's question page on Marigold.


Latin name: Oreganum majorana.

Family: Labiatae.

Growing pattern: Perennial.

History: Marjoram was historically used as a food preservative and as a remedy for colds and sore throats. Dried, ground marjoram used to be used as snuff.

How to grow: Sow the seed in April. Marjoram will also grow from rooted cuttings.

Soil condition/position: Marjoram is slow to mature but if sown in a sunny position it should flower during its first summer. It can be grown in a container.

Appearance: Marjoram grows to a height of 45cm. It has a sweet spicy taste but is milder than oregano.


Latin name: Althaea officinalis.

History: Always valued for its healing properties - for ulcers and for bronchial troubles and as a mild laxative. The dried roots used to be used to flavour marshmallow sweets.

How to grow: Sow the seeds in autumn. Dig in deeply and space the seedlings when transplanted 45cm apart. Another way is to remove pieces of crown from old plants and set them in soil. Keep well watered until established.

Soil condition/position: Ordinary garden soil is suitable but the plants need protecting during the winter.

Uses: A poultice made from the flowers and leaves is said to reduce inflammation. The scraped and peeled root can be made into a decoction for coughs and catarrh and a soothing ointment can be made from the roots. It makes a good face pack for dry skins.


There are several varieties of mint. Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peppermint and Penny-Royal (Mentha Pulegium). All can be grown very easily from cuttings but they do prefer well manured soils. They can spread very quickly and some people prefer to keep them confined in containers. The leaves are used for flavouring, mint sauce and drinks.


Latin name: Tropaeolum maius.

Growing pattern: Annual.

History: Originated in South America and used to be used as a remedy for scurvy.

How to grow: Sow the Nasturtium seeds in early summer in their final position. They germinate very easily and are ideal for young gardeners.

Soil condition/position: Nasturtiums like an open sunny position in light sandy soil. They grow well in containers.

Appearance: The plant will trail or climb and has round dark green leaves. The flowers are cone-shaped, brilliantly coloured, ranging from yellow through orange to red.

Uses: Nasturtium plants help to protect other plants from pests. The leaves are really peppery and tasty if added to salads. The flowers can be added to salads and the seeds can be pickled and used like capers.


Oregano is a perennial plant. It can be brought on from seed or from cuttings. Growing to a maximum of eighteen inches high its flowers and leaves are used.

Uses: Oregano can be used to flavour grilled steak. It is especially good when cooking tomatoes and can be used in the tomato sauce used for pizza topping and spaghetti sauces.


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