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Culinary Herbs – Summer Tips


  • Check plants regularly for soil or pest problems that might develop.
  • Nipping the flowers on basil will develop a bushier plant with more leaves. To attract bees and pollinators, leave a few flowers.
  • Most annual herbs require at least 1” of water from rainfall or irrigation each week to remain productive; in sandy soils, apply 1/3” of water every third day to keep the top 6-8” of soil moist. In clay soils, make two ½” applications in a week.
  • Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are the most efficient way to water. If watering by hand, water in the morning and avoid wetting the plant leaves. Do not overwater herbs as the flavors are more intense if plants are kept slightly stressed.
  • Most perennial herbs are very drought tolerant once established. Only water these plants during times of extended drought.
  • Clay pots dry out quicker than plastic pots so check at least twice a week and water as needed.
  • Use your herbs and they will flourish. Trimming them regularly encourages new growth.
  • It is a good time to harvest and dry herbs for the winter months.


  • Heat waves and drought often burn out annual herbs; be sure to watch for signs of water depletion.
  • Remove diseased plants and weeds to help keep your garden healthy.
  • Cool season herbs such as parsley, cilantro and dill often start bolting (switch from leaf to flower production) in the heat of summer. Bolting is triggered by warm temperatures and increasing day length. Once a plant has bolted, the leaves become bitter and inedible. Slow bolting with mulch, watering and shading of plants.


  • Watch for pests such as caterpillars and aphids.
  • Sow parsley, dill, cilantro and other cool season herbs in the garden for fall harvest. These herbs will survive light frost.
  • Sow basil seed for a final crop. Keep in mind frost will kill basil plants.

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