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Invasive Herbs


Several years ago, I attended my local herb society’s annual symposium. Having never planted an herb garden before, even though I’ve been a gardener all my life, I decided to give it a try. I purchased mint, oregano, tarragon, thyme, and dill—favorites of mine in the kitchen—from vendors at the show, a book of herb-planting tips, and special fertilizer one vendor swore by.

Confused Person

I tilled a 10’ X 12’ garden patch and planted the herbs in neat rows with cute little clay name tags. They grew. And grew. They took over their patch, invaded the tomatoes 15 feet away, and even reached the veggies in another garden area. These herbs became so thick and tangled that I was overwhelmed! I cut them all down. I dug them out of their patch and all the other gardens. I even had to mow some of them down. The next four years they returned, spread, bloomed, and grew. I dug them up again and again. I mowed them down again. And they kept coming back.

I hadn’t bothered to read the book I purchased with this tip: “Herbs grow best in containers in the garden, to control their growth and to avoid spreading and invading the rest of your garden.” The author listed every herb I had purchased as those to only grow in containers!

I still get a mint plant or two every year, after eight years.

Now my herbs are in clay pots, and I cut them as needed.

What’s your worst gardening mistake? Email us your 200-300-word summary to with “Broken Trowel Entry” in the subject line—if we print your item, you win the Broken Trowel Award and get a free one-year subscription and our GreenPrints Companion CD!

This article was published originally in 2023, in GreenPrints Issue #133.


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