Herbs are known as beneficial. Some are aromatic, while others are flavorful. A number are medicinal. Still others make nice groundcovers. And many herbs act as food and nectar sources for wildlife. Perhaps a less heralded benefit is attractive blooms.
While not all herbs produce flowers, most perform beautifully spring through fall. They mix well in perennial and annual beds, often providing color that bridges the seasons. Some of the best flowering herbs for Texas include:
This fragrant salvia forms a green foliage mound in summer, but covers itself in scarlet blooms late summer through fall. A tender perennial, pineapple sage grows to 3’-4’ tall in well-drained soil. It grows in full sun, but does best in morning sun/afternoon shade. Pineapple sage needs regular water to prevent wilting and achieve a brilliant bloom. It sports tubular flowers that lure bees and butterflies.
This sage is edible, both flowers and leaves. The leaves are sometimes used in teas, while the flowers can be used to garnish salads. Pineapple sage grows well in flowerbeds and provides a spectacular red bloom that contrasts nicely with fall flowers such as yellow chrysanthemums.
Also known as catnip, this perennial herb grows well in sun or part shade in well drained soil. It sports gray-green leaves and grows to 2’-3’ tall and wide. In summer, this aromatic plant produces abundant purple or white flower spikes. Catmint may be used in the perennial garden or as a border plant or tall groundcover. It is reputed to repel harmful insects better than chemicals. Catmint is quite hardy and vigorous, but is often disturbed by cats. Cats love to rub against it because of the compound it emits.
There are actually many plants called catmints, but Nepeta cataria is the most common. Other Nepeta cultivars are also worth growing for their fragrance and flowers. Catmint is often used as an ingredient in herbal tea. However, it is best known for the its flowers and the pleasure it brings felines!
MEXICAN MINT MARIGOLD
Also called Texas tarragon, this native herb is a hardy perennial that thrives in full sun to part shade. It grows to 3’ tall, and in fall it is topped with clusters of bright yellow flowers resembling marigolds. Its leaves, which have a spicy aroma, are used in teas and potpourri. The plant’s foliage has an anise flavor that makes it a great substitute for French tarragon in recipes.
More flowering herbs include basil, bee balm, yarrow, Texas betony, chamomile, calendula and purple coneflower.
Resource: Herbs for Texas, Southern Herb Growing
For answers to your horticulture questions, please call the Texas AgriLife Extension, Hood County at 817-579-3280 and ask to speak to a Master Gardener or visit the website at hoodcountymastergardeners.org.