Greenhouse Herbs in California
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Denyse M. Rose
Posted on: August 14, 1998

I just finished a greenhouse and would like to start growing herbs, medicinal and fragrant. Can you tell me how I tell which specifically would grow well in a greenhouse in Los Angeles, California? I ‘d be grateful for help. Also, should I start with plants or grow from seeds. As you can tell, I am a beginner.

We do not have list that tells you which herbs are suitable for growing in greenhouses.

This subject is actually a bit more complicated than it first seems because there is more than one reason for not growing herbs in greenhouses besides the simple fact that they may not grow in a greenhouse. For example, evening primrose will grow in a greenhouse, no problem, but if you are growing it for medicinal use, it is impractical to grow in a greenhouse because you need many plants to get enough seeds to make medicines from. Evening primrose should be grown outdoors in a garden or in a field. Similarly for herbs such as red clover, hops, indigo, and poppies.

Some herbs simply won’t grow in a greenhouse. Many of the northern woodland plants suffer in the high light, high humidity and high temperatures. Notable examples are ginseng and goldenseal which many people have tried to grow in greenhouses without success unless shade and air conditioning is provided.

You best approach would be get a book with reliable information on how to grow herbs. Look at what the cultural requirements: does it require shade, is it a plant that grows only in northern or alpine areas. Look at what part of the plant is used: is it the seed or fruit or flower and is it likely that enough will be produced from a few plants.

A good book to start with is John Mason’s book, "Growing Herbs", which is available from Richters.

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