9 Easy Culinary Herbs to Grow From Seed

Close-Up Of Potted Plants On Table Against White Tiled Wall
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If a backyard vegetable garden is out of the question for you, a small culinary herb garden grown from seed might be just the thing to inspire new recipes and bring fresh flavor to your cooking. Although some herbs can be quite difficult to start from seed, these culinary herbs aren’t fussy — making them perfect for beginner gardeners.

Here are nine culinary herbs that are easy to grow from seed.

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
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Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil

Dermot O’Halloran / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Basil is a versatile herb with seeds that should be sown in early springtime in well-drained, well-watered soil with plenty of sunlight. This aromatic plant is the star ingredient in pesto and adds a touch of sweetness to sauces, soups, and sandwiches. If you find yourself with more than you know what to do with, basil can be frozen or dried to preserve its summery flavor for use all winter long.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Moderately rich, well-drained, and well-watered.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
2
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Dill (Anethum graveolens)

A patch of dill growing in a sunny garden

Mikaelsoderberg / Flickr / Public Domain

Dill is an annual herb that can be grown in the garden through direct seeding or in a container. If you choose to grow dill in a container, be sure that the container is deep, as dill establishes deep roots. For the best flavor, harvest just when the flowers open up. Dill seeds can be easily saved and used in next year’s garden or as an ingredient in teas.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Rich, light, and well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
3
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Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

A closeup of healthy cilantro in sunlight

Sarah and Jason / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Cilantro seeds can be planted outside in your herb garden (after the last spring frost) or in a pot. A quick grower, cilantro will typically have leaves ready for initial harvest within a month of planting. Leaf harvest can be prolonged by snipping stems. Although if you’d like coriander, let some stems flower, go to seed, and voila — coriander. Cilantro leaves have a controversial flavor and are often used in dishes like salsas and soups. Coriander can be found in everything from curry powder to pies.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Average, medium moisture, and well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
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Arugula (Eruca versicaria subsp. sativa)

A garden bed of green arugula

Soommen / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Arugula seeds can be sowed in an indoor container and then transplanted to your herb garden after the last spring frost. Seedlings should be trimmed and spaced to 12 inches apart. Sometimes called salad rocket, arugula has a peppery flavor that strengthens in intensity as the leaves grow larger. For this reason, leaves should be harvested only when young.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Medium to wet.
  • Soil: Rich and moist.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
5
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Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives grow in front of a brick wall

Alice Henneman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Chives are an easy-to-grow herb with a strong onion fragrance that perform well from seed in the garden or container. While they are best-suited for sandy soils, chives are content in a wide range of soil types. Avoid overwatering and keep a watchful eye for signs of mildew and leaf spots. Add freshly-harvested chives to soups, salads, and veggies, or, preserve them for the winter season.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained, and sandy.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
6
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Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

A closeup of parsley growing in a garden

Alice Henneman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Although parsley grows slowly from seed, it can be sown in a container indoors in early spring or out in the herb garden after the final frost. Parsely has become a popular garnish beloved the world over and can often be found brightening dishes like potatoes and omelets. While there are three varieties of parsley frequently used in cooking today, curly leaved parsley (crispum) is the most popular.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Average, consistently moist, and well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
7
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Lemon Balm (Melissa officinales)

A close up of ridge-bordered lemon balm leaves

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lemon balm is easy to grow from seed and, if grown in an herb garden, requires pruning to keep it from self-seeding. As you might guess, lemon balm is an herb with a lemony flavor and goes well in soups, salads, and teas. They also are frequently used in medicines for soothing insect bites and treating anxiety and colds.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Dry to medium.
  • Soil: Average, dry to medium, and well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
8
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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel growing against a blue sky

Andy Roberts / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Frequently used in baking and sausages, fennel can be directly seeded and will self-seed if not properly thwarted. To keep your fennel from self-seeding, remove the spent flowering stems before any seeds are produced. Plant fennel in your herb garden and you will likely attract a variety of butterflies, including the larvae of swallowtails.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Moist, organically rich, and well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
9
of 9

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

A pot of bright green thyme sprigs in front of a vine-covered brick wall

Alice Henneman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This popular and aromatic kitchen staple is quite easy to grow from seed indoors. Thyme prefers rocky or sandy soils and doesn't require a lot of water, making it pretty simple to care for. Consider placing a small pot of thyme near a sunny kitchen window and harvest as needed while cooking.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Dry to medium.
  • Soil: Loose, sandy, and rocky soils with good drainage.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.