Home > Growing Herbs > Herb Gardening in Summer

Herb Gardening in Summer

Herb gardening in summer is all about nurturing your plants through the hot, dry weather, while making the most of the most productive time of the year.

Watering a herbs garden in summer.

The herb garden comes into its own in summer – the leaves are at their freshest and most luscious in early and midsummer, but the whole plant can offer harvests as the flower and set seed later in the month.

Pick leaves as needed and gather bunches (before they flower) for drying, to use when fresh herbs are not available. Regular harvesting encourages continued growth and can delay flowering in many herbs.

However, the heat can also stress your plants, making it essential to monitor their health and provide the right care and attention. 

Growing

Key tasks

  • In early summer, plant out any remaining herbs sown in spring
  • Continue sowing fast-growing annual herbs to maintain a supply over the summer
  • Take cuttings of perennials and shrubs in late summer
  • Divide overgrown perennial herbs in late summer

Summer is an excellent time to sow seeds for a second harvest of fast-growing annual herbs. Herbs like basil, cilantro and parsley, bolt quickly in the summer heat, and so succession planting is important to maintain a supply through the season and into fall.

Remember to keep newly sown seeds and seedlings well-watered during hot weather, and provide shade during the heat of the day until seedlings are established.

You can start taking semi-hardwood cuttings of perennial herbs like rosemary, thyme and lavender, oregano, once growth has slowed at the end of the summer.

These cuttings will root quickly in the warm summer weather and can be potted up for overwintering indoors or transplanted to the garden in fall.

Late summer is a good time for dividing overgrown perennial herbs. Replant (with adequate spacing) or pot up to grow indoors over winter.

Maintaining

Key tasks

  • Continue regular watering, especially during dry spells or heatwaves
  • Watch for signs of heat or drought stress, and provide shade or additional water as needed
  • Remove weeds as necessary before they can flower and set seed

In summer, it’s crucial to monitor your herbs for signs of heat or drought stress, such as wilting, leaf scorch, or stunted growth, and take steps to provide extra care as needed.

Water in the early morning and/or evening, and avoid watering in full sun. This will allow more water to reach the plant’s roots before it evaporates in the heat.

Herbs planted in containers will use up water very quickly, and so may need watering several times a day. If possible, move them into shade or partial-shade during the hottest months.

Adding mulching around your herbs will help to stabilize the soil temperature and conserve water.

Consider providing additional shade to herbs in the ground, or moving potted herbs to a shadier spot.

Pruning and harvesting

Key tasks

  • Harvest herbs frequently to encourage continued growth and discourage bolting
  • Prune and shape woody perennial herbs after flowering
  • Deadhead flowering herbs (such as borage or chamomile) to prolong bloom time and prevent self-seeding
  • Control the spread of mints by cutting off the stolons as they appear

Summer is peak season for many herbs, including basil, rosemary, and thyme. Harvest these herbs frequently to encourage growth and delay flowering, to keep them productive.

If your herb garden is producing more herbs than you can use fresh, consider drying your herbs or using other preservation methods to save them for later in the year.

Cut back any perennial shrubs, like rosemary, thyme, and sage after they have finished flowering to prevent them becoming straggly.

Herb seeds like coriander and dill can be harvested once the seed heads have turned brown and begun to dry out.

Keep an eye on your mint plants and prevent them spreading by cutting off the stolons as they grow over the side of containers or along the ground.