If your homegrown herbs are fizzling failures, the problem might their friend group. You think I’m joking. Turns out, and this was news to me, herbs are like people. Just as we have friends who bring out the best in us and foes who bring out the worst, just as we know people who make us sweeter and keep pests away, as well as those who hog all the resources and zap our energy, the same is true for herbs.
This explains the mixed success I’ve had with the two 24-inch-round herb planters in my yard. I now have some insight into why my basil grew like gangbusters this summer but crushed the sage. So, per my usual learning style – fail first, then find out what went wrong – I sought help.
“Herbs have friends and foes,” said Bri Murray, a horticulturist at Lukas Nursery, in Oviedo, Fla., whom I cornered in the herb aisle this week. “Some hog water and root space, and push others away. Some want dry soil and have no tolerance for their soggy neighbors. Some will even change the flavor of their neighbors.”
Does everyone know this but me?
“Knowing which herbs get along and which ones don’t is important when planting your container garden,” she said, “because herbs that are friends can enhance each other’s performance, while enemies zap one another.”
Despite their playground antics, herbs are among the easiest plants to grow for beginner gardeners, and Murray is a big fan of the effort. “An herb garden taps so many of the senses,” she said. “You touch them, watch them grow, and, of course, smell and taste them.”
“If you don’t kill them first,” I say, as I peruse the unsuspecting baby herb plants for sale.
“It’s also a confidence booster,”