Herbs for Louisiana
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Don and Eva Bell
Posted on: September 27, 1998

We live in south Louisiana, and last year did our first herb bed, starting our planting in the beginning of December. We have a very mild winter and had wonderful sucess with this. We recently bought a garden home, and have prepared the entire area for herbs and cut flowers. We ordered some seeds and plants to start us today, and will order more when we return from a trip in late November. If you have ideas of herbs that will do well in our moist humid area of Louisiana, please suggest. We are delighted to find the proper time to plant, and have had our soil prepared to suit most herbs.

Because so many of the favourite herbs are from the Mediterranean, it is important to try to provide conditions that approximate what herbs get in that area of the world. Generally, herbs get hot, sunny and relatively dry conditions in the Mediterranean. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary and sage do not thrive in humid conditions and it is necessary to compensate by making sure that water drainage is excellent. This includes adding sand to the soil to break up clay or mucky soils, and creating slopes for excess water to run off. Raised beds can help improve drainage immensely. Still, even with excellent drainage these and other herbs can suffer from diseases caused by the excess humidity and moisture. If that proves to be the case, then these drier-loving herbs most likely cannot be grown in your area. You may be able to protect herbs from excess rain with a plastic covering during the wet season.

There are also some herbs that need a good freeze up every year to do well. Without a freeze up they languish over winter and with excess moisture, they can easily perish. French tarragon and chives are good examples. These may need to be treated as annuals in your area.

Here are some herbs that should grow well for you provided that they get good drainage: mint, chervil, sorrel, basil, coriander, parsley, dill, lovage, watercress, and possibly thyme.

My wife would like a hedge of rosemary; please suggest a good variety for this.

All of the rosemaries should winter for you, again provided the drainage is good and plants are protected from excess rain during the wet season. The hardiest is ‘Arp’ but other cultivars such as ‘Rex’ and ‘Santa Barbara’ should do well for you.

We like to attract butterflies: suggestions for this too.

The "butterfly weed" is well known as an attractant. This is listed as "pleurisy root" in our catalogue ("P Herbs"). There are many other suggestions in the book "Attracting Birds & Butterflies, How to Plan and Plant a Backyard Habitat" by Barbara Ellis (available from Richters).

Your catalogue was most interesting and we look forward to browsing your web page often.

Glad you enjoy them. We plan to add many more features to the catalogue and web site in the future. Please watch for them.

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