On our homestead, we are herb-friendly. In a legal state, that sounds like pro-cannabis, but what I mean is we grow many herb plants. Both medicinal and culinary, nearly all herbs are pollinator-friendly as well. Grow zone 8b allows us to grow both annual (yearly) and perennial (comes back yearly) easily. There aren’t many varieties that won’t grow here, unlike in snowy Idaho, where summer is fleeting. Living low in altitude and near the open water is sometimes a blessing. Being in Grow Zone 8b, we have freezes and snow, but it is fleeting. Our summers tend to be sunny and dry, which leads to a great growing season.
We write quite often about growing, preserving, and using herbs here. And while I love all we grow, I have a core group of herbs I have consistently grown, no matter where I live. I consider these must-grow plants whether you start them from seed or buy them in plant form, ready to put in pots or in the ground, having these growing will improve your growing experience. You will invite pollinators so your produce crops have a higher yield. This will also lead to a healthier local environment by letting the native ones know they are welcome to live on your land. See our recent article on how to grow herbs and start them.
I have noted what I consider to be deer-resistant as well, though, as always, your results may differ. The resistant ones are grown without fencing, and our local deer never seem to munch on them.
Spring is coming, it is time to start planning!
Favorite Herbs For Grow Zone 8b:
It is an annual in our grow zone and will collapse and die after the first freeze in late fall to early winter. While prized for culinary uses, the hardy versions are known for their intense flower spikes that pollinators cannot resist. I grow it next to our tomatoes most years. Some people pinch the flowers to get more leaves; I would suggest that you simply grow more plants instead. The flowers smell amazing as well.
Is it a flower or an herb plant first? It depends on what you want really. The flowers are prized for medicinal use, and pollinators love them. I have found it to be deer-resistant. Not known for its aroma, however. It is an annual, but self-seeds efficiently.
It is grown for the flowers and used in teas and herbal concoctions. Yet, it is also very pollinator-friendly. Once planted it self-seeds easily and usually pops back up every year, randomly across your land. I say sprinkle seeds everywhere and let it grow rebel-style. The smell is heavenly.
It is prized for its medicinal uses; it produces long stalks of purple-blue flowers that bees cannot stay away from. It is also great fodder for stock animals. One plant will produce enough for an entire family each year. Give it a lot of room, and it loves the sun. Deer do not eat it on our homestead. Comfrey is not edible for humans. It doesn’t need fertilizing and comes back yearly from its deep root system.
There are varieties for culinary and ones aimed at essential oil production. All are highly deer-resistant, have long-lasting flowers, and smell wonderful in the breeze. If there is one plant you put many in the ground, make it lavender. It has many uses, is drought-friendly once established, and takes punishing cold weather. With annual shaping, it will grow for many years without the need for fertilizing and often not even supplemental water once established.
You can grow so many varieties: peppermint, spearmint, etc. But be sure to grow them in a pot so they cannot escape and take over your garden. This includes all of its cousins such as Lemon Balm. They can be used in both culinary and medicinal. Deer resistant. Is normally a perennial.
It is a plant I grow all over our homestead. Deer leave it alone, it is rich in natural essential oils. Used in culinary, medicinal, and yes, oh, those delicate blue-hued flowers will lure native bees in. Deer resistant. Once well established it won’t need fertilizer or watering unless in a heat wave.
Let’s just say it: pollinator-friendly. And it smells amazing in the sun. Be it regular sage or tricolor, this herb is cold-hardy and grows for many years with little care. Highly deer resistant.
Regular thyme or a fancier variety like lemon thyme grows for years with minimal upkeep. Cold hardy. Culinary, medicinal, and its tiny flowers are a joy. Deer resistant. Once established, it often does not need watering.
If you are looking for seeds, I recommend Sow Right Seeds, which sell many herb varieties. Use code “SARAHK10” for 10% off! They are also running their annual Early Bird sale through 2/29/24, where if you buy 10 or more packets of seeds, you get 25% off automatically.
Sow Right ships quickly, and yes, we have been growing with their seeds the past year and found success with them. And yes, if you spend $25 or more, shipping is free.