Herbs and Spices

Importance to Oregon

Herbs and spices are small industries in Oregon. In Oregon, there are 33 dry herb operations. There are 33 herb operations in the state and they produce a total of 33,653 lbs of harvested herbs. There were 182 acres of herbs harvested in the state of Oregon.

History of Herbs

There are many different versions or stories of the history of herbs. A general theme in all of the ancient history is that herbs and spices were used for their health benefits. Hunters and gatherers would use spices to wrap and flavor meat, medicinal purposes, masking of unpleasant odors and to help preserve foods.  Spices and herbs trace back to being an important item of trade and exchange between people or different populations.

Varieties of Herbs and Spices

When you begin thinking about starting your own herb garden, one thing to remember is that herbs can be started by planting seeds or by purchasing transplants or cuttings. To learn more about the growth characteristics for each of these herbs, click on each tab.


Basil should be planted after the weather has made the transformation from cold winters to warm spring. If starting from seed, start the growing process indoors around six weeks before the last spring frost. This plant will grow best in soil temperatures ranging from 50 degrees Fahrenheit and to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Basil will continue to cultivate leaves as long as the leaves are removed from the plant.


Cilantro seeds can be planted in the same soil during different times of the month. If you plant the seeds at different times you are likely to have a larger production amount of cilantro. Cilantro plants need to be in a location with full sun to partial shade. Another characteristic that cilantro plants need in order to thrive is rich and well drained soil.


Rosemary seeds or cuttings should be planted indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last Spring frost. One thing to know about rosemary seeds is that they take longer to start their growing process so don’t be surprised if they do not start to make their appearance as soon as you thought they would. Rosemary plants have to planted in full sun to grow their best. Rosemary plants will not thrive in soil that does not drain well. Expect no growth if the soil is saturated in water. Soil temperatures for growing rosemary should be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Anise has to be planted in a location that will get full sun but is also protected from any wind. This plant is the most successful in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.7. The soil can be dry but anise does not grow in wet soil. Seeds should be started in the greenhouse and transplanted outside 8 weeks after they were planted. It is the best idea to transplant the seedlings into the garden as soon as possible because the tap root is very fragile and if they become damaged, the plant will not grow. Anise will need 120 days, free of frost, to completely grow.

German Chamomile

German chamomile is an easy plant to start from seed because it self-seeds. Chamomile seeds should be started indoors and kept under a light. The light will cause the seeds to germinate in a rapid timeline of seven to fourteen days. The plants will grow the best when they are planted in full sun but where the weather is not hot. If the climate is extremely hot, the plants should be planted in partial shade. German chamomile does not grow extremely tall and it usually measures at about eight to twenty four inches. The flowers on German chamomile will usually bloom in late Spring. This plant does not require much water for growth and it is best to allow the plants to dry out between watering them.

Life Cycle of an Herb Plant

Herbs are grown from a seed or can be purchased as a plant start. With this being said, the video below shows the growth of a basil plant after the seed has started to sprout!



Herbs and spices can be grown in a small backyard garden or a large scale farm that provides a higher yield. In this video, the narrator describes what each piece of equipment in responsible for, how much of the basil plant is harvested and what the steps are when the tractor is full of basil. Watch this quick video that demonstrates how basil is harvested on a large scale farm!


Pests and Diseases

Herbs are susceptible to many pests and diseases because they are delicate plants with small leaves. One pest that can have a large impact on the plants and leaves are aphids. Aphids secrete a sticky substance that speeds up the process of mold growth.


Herbs are most commonly found as seasonings for food, dried herbs or in oil form.

Vocabulary Terms

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