Interflora’s guide to herbs

Herbs are very rewarding to grow as they can add flavour to food, as well as help with ailments and illnesses. You can buy herbs in two forms at your local florist – either as a complete plant or as a cut herb.

Here’s our guide to some popular varieties…


Availability: All year round
An annual herb, basil can grow up to about 18 inches tall. It has small white flowers that appear on the spike. The leaves nearest the tip are the sweetest. You should pinch them back regularly to increase yield.


Availability: All year round
A hardy bi-annual, harvest the leaves when young. Because of the strong flavour, parsley is great for soups and salads. The leaves can be used both fresh and dried.


Availability: Late spring, summer
Traditionally used to season meats, fish and soups, thyme also dries well. For the best flavour, cut the leafy stems when the plant is in flower.

Marjoram and oregano

Availability: Late spring, summer
Both these herbs come from the same family; harvest the leaves before flowering for the most pungent flavour. The purple oregano flowers can also be used as a cut flower.


Availability: All year round
A perennial herb, rosemary has a multitude of uses in the kitchen. It dries well and will keep its flavour if stored in an airtight bag.


Availability: Spring, summer
Easy to grow, chives can be used fresh to jazz up a salad or chopped and frozen to ensure a year-round supply. The purple flowers are also edible.


Availability: Late spring, summer
There are many different mint varieties, some more pungent than others. For best flavour harvest the leaves before they come into flower.


Availability: Spring, summer, early autumn
A perennial herb, which can grow to three feet tall, lavender is famous for its fragrance. To harvest, you should cut whole flower spikes when the first flowers begin to open then hang upside down and dry.

There are a number of herbs that florists routinely sell as cut flowers. Here are some of the more common ones.

Dill (Anethum graveolous)

Availability: summer/early autumn
Both the seeds and leaves can be used for cooking purposes. Harvest the seeds when they turn light brown. It is said that soaking your nails in an infusion of dill seeds is said to be good for the health of your nails.


Availability: summer/autumn
A mild antiseptic also used by herbalists to lower blood pressure and stimulate the digestion. Achillea can be sold as a fresh cut or dried flower.


Availability: all year round
This is an ancient Chinese herb, particularly useful in treating liver complaints.


Availability: late spring, summer, winter
Used externally for treating wounds, extract of calendula can be applied to cuts and abrasions to reduce healing time.


Availability: spring, early summer, winter
Good for clearing congestion as an inhalant and also makes an effective chest rub.

Lily of the valley

Availability: late spring/early summer
This has similar uses in the body to digitalis – treating heart disease – but it’s not as poisonous.