Basil, Bay and Lemon Balm, Oh My! Herbs YOU Can Grow and Use in a Variety of Aromatherapy Projects!
Recently, I published a HUB Page titled "Aromatherapy! Grow Your Own Herb Garden and Add Beautiful Scents to your life!" This HUB recommended several herbs that are not only easy to grow but also produce beautiful scents. For example, I discussed the calming scent of lavender…which is not only soothing to human beings but to dogs as well (my adorable Beagle becomes calm whenever she is in a room infused with the scent of lavender!). There are MANY different herbs that you can grow and because I only named a few in my previous HUB Page…I thought I would take the time to tell you about a few more. After all, gardening is a wonderful hobby and if you can actually produce aromatherapy oils from the plants that you grow…well, that is a bonus in my book!
Basil is a great plant to grow if you need quick growing "filler" in your garden. Basil grows so rapidly it will fill the empty spots in your herb garden in no time at all! Basil is also a great plant to use if you wish to line a pathway or border. There are hundreds of different types of basil species…so it may be difficult to choose which is best for your garden. Some have a fresh lemon scent while others smell of anise. If you wish to add Basil to your herb garden you might as well purchase a packet of seeds rather than buying actual plants. It only takes about a week for basil to sprout…so seeds are ideal (and less expensive!). Basil is an annual which requires full sun. It prefers dry, rich soil that is well drained. It grows to approximately two feet tall by one foot wide. If you wish, plant some in a patio container as it does especially well in all types of pots. You can even grow it inside as long as you have a sunny location in which to place it.
Bay has shiny, leathery leaves. In June and July it will bloom small clusters of pretty, yellow flowers. Unlike Basil, it is best to avoid bay seeds and start with actual plants as the seeds take a long time to sprout. If you wish, you can plant bay in various pots, however, doing so will stunt its growth (which is actually ok because the scented leaves will be easier to pick!). The bay plant is a perennial that enjoys full sun to partial shade. It likes well-drained, sandy soil. If you decide to plant bay in your garden, be warned, it can grow into a 25 to 60 foot tree (the warmer the climate, the taller the tree). If you plant bay in a pot…start with a one gallon container and then eventually graduate to a larger one (at least five gallons).
Marjoram is a low, bushy perennial that is native to Asia but was actually naturalized in Europe. Marjoram looks nice when placed along the edge of a terrace or along the border of a garden. It is best if you plant Marjoram in an easy to access location in your garden so that you can easily pinch its leaves in order to release its wonderful scent! Marjoram is in fact a perennial; however, it might have difficulty in extremely cold climates. It requires full sun and well drained, dry soil. It can grow up to two feet tall and one foot wide (however, you should cut it back quite often so that it does not become too "leggy"). This wonderful herb can also be planted in hanging baskets on your patio as they will hang over the edge and look quite beautiful. Marjoram has a sweet and spicy scent that often smells like…you guessed it, pizza (this herb is often found in many pizza sauce recipes!). This herb has also shown to be quite effective when it comes to relaxing brain waves (I don't know about you, but I could use some brain wave relaxation right about now!). Marjoram is often used in massage oils as it can also ease stiff joints and reduce muscles spasms.
When I was younger, I went to an alternative rock concert. When I got home, my sister exclaimed, "What in the world is that smell!?" Well, I didn't know it at the time, but what she smelled was patchouli. Personally, I am not a big fan, however, it is actually quite popular. Patchouli's scent is quite heavy. It is earthy, musty and can be extremely penetrating. You can actually find patchouli in several popular perfumes including Tabu and Shocking. Patchouli is a pretty, leafy bush which originated in East India. The patchouli scent is developed when its leaves are exposed to the air. Patchouli oil has been known to rejuvenate skin cell production, hence the reason it is often used on mature, aging skin. People who suffer from acne have also been known to treat their skin problem with this herb. In India, patchouli is often used to treat snake and insect bites.
Lemon Balm (Melissa)
Lemon Balm is a perennial which loves full sun (but will tolerate part shade). It can grow up to three feet tall and two feet wide. This herb likes moist, yet well drained soil (careful, soggy soil can kill!). This beautiful plant has variegated leaves and smells simply wonderful! A southern European native, lemon balm oil is distilled from its lovely leaves (the oil is very expensive because it is not produced often). If you want a fresh, lovely smelling herb in your garden (and you like the smell of fresh lemons) you may wish to consider Lemon Balm (which by the way, is also known as Melissa). You can start with seeds or buy small plants. Once this plant becomes established in your garden it will "take off" and grow quite rapidly.
So there you have it. Five wonderful herbs you may wish to consider if you are planting a herb garden! Before you begin any garden project you may wish to visit your local nursery or garden center and talk to an expert. They can tell you which herbs will grow best in your area and give you valuable advice. No matter what plants you choose, know that gardening can bring you peace of mind, exercise and of course, fresh air! Good luck and may your herb garden bring you great pleasure (and maybe, just maybe…some wonderful oils that you can actually use in different aromatherapy projects!). Good luck…and here's to your green thumb!