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Welcome to the Desert Botanical Garden’s

HERB GARDEN Herbs have been used for generations for many

O VE R VIE W The Herb Garden is designed with seven themed gardens. This guide has information about each area with plant recommendations and growing tips about herbs you can grow in your low desert garden.


purposes from medicinal remedies to perfumes and culinary uses. Herbs also provide beauty and

Sensory Garden

Wildlife Garden

Tea Garden

Mediterranean Garden

Picante Garden

Culinary Garden

Medicinal Garden

variety to our desert landscapes. We invite you to use this guide to learn about the variety of herbs that grow well in our Sonoran Desert and how you can create your own herb garden at home. .

F E AT UR E S A Walk Through Thyme, Carol Bulla Sundial Memorial St. Earth Walking, Sculpture by Robert Wick The Barbara B. Weisz Family Plaza DE FIN ITION: herb: a plant that is useful in some way

MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN Many herbs that thrive in our harsh desert environment are of Mediterranean origin. Soil types, low rainfall and over 300 sunny days a year allow these familiar herbs to grow easily in our low desert gardens. Many of these plants are favorites for cooking, but some have other uses that you may not know about: O regan o : Oils from crushed leaves are used to polish furniture and leaves hung in closets scent linens and clothes. Oregano is believed to bring good health, longevity and joy. Sw ee t M ar j o r am : Cultivated in ancient Egypt as a symbol of honor and joy, sweet marjoram is in the same genus as oregano with leaves that have a very spicy aroma.

G RO WI N G T I PS: Most Mediterranean herbs need well-drained soil and a lot of sun. Many of them are quite drought tolerant. These low-maintenance plants allow more time for enjoying your garden and are a nice addition to desert landscapes.

Sage :Ancient Chinese used sage in spiritual and healing ceremonies. Ancient Greeks used it as a mental stimulant. Sage is in the genus of Salvia, and is associated with salvation and good health. T h ym e : There are over 400 varieties of thyme in Asia and Europe. In ancient Rome, thyme was used with garlic for energy. Rose m ar y : This Mediterranean native has been used for centuries for scenting and medicinal purposes. It is associated with remembrance and fidelity because of it’s long-lasting piney aroma. Rosemary is the symbol of friendship and loyalty.

PLANTS Origanum majorana – Sweet Marjoram Origanum vulgare – Italian (Greek) Oregano Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary Salvia officinalis – Culinary Sage Thymus herba-barona – Caraway-thyme Thymus vulgaris – English Thyme Thymbra capitata – Conehead-thyme

PICANTE GARDEN PLANTS Capsicum annuum – ‘Chiltepin’ Chile Pepper Capsicum annuum – ‘Jalapeño’ Chile Pepper Capsicum annuum – ‘Poblano’/’Ancho’ Chile Pepper Capsicum annuum – ‘Serrano’ Chile Pepper

A cornucopia of chile pepper varieties is displayed in this hot spot. Not only do chile fruits vary in size and shape, they also have a broad range of “hotness”. How hot is hot? The Scoville scale measures capsaicin levels (heat/spiciness) in chile peppers. The ‘Habañero’ is very hot while the ‘Jalapeño’ can be termed a mildly-hot pepper. The spicy ‘Chiltepin’ is native to southern Arizona in a limited habitat. Chile peppers are colorful ornamentals in a garden.

Did you know that a medium-size chile contains six times


Capsicum chinense – ‘Habañero’ Chile Pepper

the vitamin C as an orange, and two times the vitamin A and betacarotene as a carrot?

Chile peppers can be grown as perennials here

Capsicum frutescens – ‘Bolivian Rainbow’ Chile Pepper

Cooking tip: If you can’t stand the fire of hot peppers but

in the low desert. They prefer a fairly organic,

still want the flavor, remove the seeds and white membranes, the parts of the pepper that hold most of the heat in the form of capsaicin.

well-drained soil. Light afternoon shade and

Capsicum frutescens – ‘Tabasco’ Chile Pepper

frequent watering will keep them more robust and productive through the summer. Chile peppers should be protected from frost through the winter.

WILDLIFE G RO WI N G T I PS: Wildlife-attracting herbs vary in their sun, soil and water requirements. Many of the non-desert/ non-Mediterranean herbs benefit from an organic soil amended with compost, and mid-day through afternoon relief from summer’s intense sun. Passion vines, as well as our native desert-willow, can help offer summer shade to accommodate these plants. At the same time, they do their part to attract butterflies and hummingbirds and provide color through the warm months.

GARDEN This garden showcases that many herbs grown for culinary, medicinal or other uses can also be magnets for attracting wildlife to a garden. Wildlife such as butterflies, birds, ladybugs, and bees adds color, movement and excitement to your yard. With the loss of so much natural habitat, it is good when we can provide some wildlife with food, shelter or nesting resources.

Special note for wildlife gardens : Many types of wildlife are extremely sensitive to pesticides. Their use will prevent these creatures from visiting your garden.

PLANTS Achillea millefolium – Yarrow Chilopsis linearis – Desert-willow Lavandula multifida – Fern-leaf Lavender Monarda fistulosa – Bee-balm, Wild Bergamot Passiflora caerulea – Passion Vine Salvia leucantha – Mexican Bush Sage Tanacetum vulgare Tansy

PLANTS Aristolochia watsonii – Snakeroot Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) – Aloe Vera Bursera microphylla – Elephant Tree Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower Marrubium vulgare – Horehound Tanacetum parthenium – Feverfew Tecoma stans – Yellow Bells



Throughout human history, many different cultures have relied on plants for healing. Today, plants are the source of a quarter of all medicines, and many cultures still rely on plants as the primary source of medicines. The herbs in the medicinal garden come from around the world and from our own southwest region. To find out more about native Sonoran Desert medicinal plants and traditional uses visit our Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail.

This wide range of plants varies in needs for

The plants and information in this exhibit are primarily for reference and education. It is not intended to serve as a manual for self-medication or as a substitute for qualified medical advice. The visitor should be aware that any plant substance, whether used as food or medicine, externally or internally, may be harmful to some people.

endure full sun exposure. Horehound and aloe

sun exposure, soil conditions, and water. In the low desert, aloe vera and purple coneflower can both benefit from light shade during mid summer. Other plants such as horehound will vera will thrive in our desert soil, whereas feverfew and coneflower would prefer a richer, organically

M e d i c i n a l u ses pa st a n d prese nt :

amended soil. In

A lo e Ve r a : The thick gel inside the aloe vera leaf is used today for burns,

wounds and sunburn. Extracts of leaves were once used on children’s fingers to stop nail biting. H or e h ou n d: This herb can be found today in candy and is also used as a cough suppressant. Pu r p le C on eflower: Native Americans used this herb as a compress to treat snakebite, fevers, and wounds. More recently, it is known for its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. It has also been used in AIDS therapy

the heat of the summer, feverfew will need frequent watering, but aloe vera would prefer the soil to dry some between watering.



A sensory garden offers a place to relax, meditate, and rejuvenate. Many herbs in this garden offer enchantingly fragrant foliage or blossoms, stimulating texture, or scintillating colors that arouse the senses. Other plants create graceful movement and sounds as gentle breezes pass by. A sensory garden is meant for lingering.

PLANTS Hyptis emoryi – Desert-lavender Lavandula dentata – French Lavender Lavandula heterophylla Sweet Lavender Pelargonium graveolens – Rose-scented Geranium

These plants vary in their sunlight, watering,

How many senses can you use in this garden?

Salvia clevelandii Chaparral Sage

and soil preferences. Scented geraniums thrive

Smell… scented geranium, sage, lavender, thyme

with a bit of afternoon shade or filtered sun, a

See…color, texture, shapes, distant vistas

fairly organic well-drained soil, and moderately frequent watering through the summer.

Hear… gentle breezes, rustle of grasses, hum of hummingbirds and bees

Santolina chamaecyparissus – Grey Santolina, Lavender-cotton

The lavenders, many sages, and santolinas relish

Touch… soft leaves of dittany of Crete, texture of warm soil

full sun exposure and infrequent watering, and

Taste…savory sage and thyme

require excellent soil drainage. A variety of herbs fall between these extremes, with some able to perform well under a wider range of conditions.


TEA GARDEN Mint and lemon-flavored herbs are among the most popular for herbal teas. With the variety of these plants that thrive in our area, along with other flavored herbs, you can grow a tea blend to relax or stimulate your mood, or simply appeal to your taste buds. Some of the herbs can be harvested year-round, while others can be picked at their peak and stored for later brewing.

PLANTS Aloysia triphylla – Lemon-verbena

Herbal teas provide a flavorful, healthy and soothing drink. They are caffeine free, may act as a digestive aide, and many have a calming effect, promoting well-being. The part of the plant used to make an herbal tea varies with each plant. The flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, bark or roots can be steeped to make a drink.

Cymbopogon citratus – Lemon-grass

Brewing tip:

Ephedra spp. – Mormon-tea

As a general rule, use one teaspoon of dried herbs, or two teaspoons of fresh herbs to each cup of boiled water for tea.

Mentha spp. - Mints Nepeta cataria – Catnip Poliomintha incana – Hoary Rosemary mint

Many of the non-native tea herbs require an organically rich soil and a good amount of water. These are best located in afternoon shade conditions for the summer. Some of the southwest natives are drought tolerant and thrive in full sun locations. Provide these with well-drained soil.

GRO W I N G T IP S : While many culinary herbs are perennials, some of them are seasonal annuals and must be grown in either the cool season or the warm season here in the low desert. For example, annual cilantro and dill can be planted in the fall to grow through the cool months. Epazote thrives in the heat of summer and dies off with winter’s cold. Some perennials such as culinary chives, French tarragon, and Mexican-tarragon may disappear underground for the winter, re-sprouting with fresh growth the following spring. Parsley, normally a biennial lasting two years, may not endure summer here. Basil, commonly an annual in other regions, can last well past one season here if protected from frost.

CULINARY Several of these plants are old familiars to most gardeners. Try some of the less common herbs to experience new flavors to spice up your cuisine. Some culinary herbs are annuals, changing with the seasons. For ease of planting, designate an area for them in your garden.

Cooking tips: • Culinary chives can be substituted for scallions to achieve a mild onion flavor. • For a great salad add basil, garlicchives, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. • Place French tarragon sprigs in vinegar to preserve the subtlety of the fresh herb.

Fall Annuals Cool Season


Allium ampeloprasum – Elephant Garlic Allium cepa – Shallots Anethum graveolens – Dill Anthriscus cerefolium – Chervil Borago officinalis – Borage Calendula officinalis – Calendula Coriandrum sativum – Cilantro/Coriander Salvia columbariae – Desert Chia Tropaeolum majus – Nasturtium Viola tricolor – Johnny Jump-ups

Spring Annuals Warm Season Chenopodium ambrosioides – Epazote Helianthus tuberosa – Sunchoke, Jerusalem-artichoke Hyptis suaveolens – Summer-chia, Golden-chia Porophyllum ruderale – Bolivian Bush-cilantro Salvia tiliaefolia – Tarahumara Chia

PLANTS Allium schoenoprasum – Culinary Chives Crithmum maritimum – Samphire Foeniculum vulgare v. dulce – Florence Fennel Petroselinum crispum ‘ Italian’ – Italian Flat-leaf Parsley Sanguisorba minor (Poterium sanguisorba) – Salad Burnet Tagetes lucida – Mexican-tarragon, Mexican-mint Marigold, Yerba-anis Tulbaghia violacea – Society-garlic

GLOSSARY OF HERBAL TERMS Annual: A plant that grows from seed, flowers, develops seed, and dies within one growing season.

REFERENCE BOOKS AND RESOURCES The Low Desert Herb Gardening Handbook Arizona Herb Association

Biennial: A plant that takes two growing seasons to complete its life cycle, flowering, developing seeds and dying in the second year. Capsaicin: The chemical compound that gives Chile peppers their heat.

Desert Gardening for Beginners - How to Grow Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs in an Arid Climate Cathy Cromell, Linda Guy, Lucy Bradley Arizona Master Gardener Press

Compost: Decomposed organic matter. Genus: A group of related plant species (one or more species); the first part of the botanical name of a plant.

The Herb Society of America Encyclopedia Of Herbs and Their Uses Deni Brown Dorling Kindersley

Herb: A plant that is useful in some way. It may be used in food preparation, or for medicine, tea, cosmetics, aromatherapy, crafting, dyeing, construction, ritual, pest control, or many other things. Organic matter: Decomposed plant or animal remains. Perennial: A plant that lives more than two growing seasons, often flowering and producing seed every year. Species: A group of plants that are alike and can interbreed; the second part of the botanical name of a plant.

Growing Herbs from Seed, Cutting, & Root Thomas DeBaggio Interweave Press

Arizona Herb Association 602.470.8086, ext. 830

Desert Botanical Garden Plant Hotline 480.941.1225


DESERT DESE ESERT BOTANICAL BOTA GARDEN GARDE ARD 11201 201 N N. G Galvin alvi l in Pk Pkw P Pkwy, k Ph Phoenix, enix ix, AZ A 8 85008 008 08 480 480-941-1225 94 41-12 41 122 • ww.db dbg org

Herb Garden Brochure  

The Herb Garden is designed with seven themed gardens. This guide has information about each area with plant recommendations and growing tip...

Herb Garden Brochure  

The Herb Garden is designed with seven themed gardens. This guide has information about each area with plant recommendations and growing tip...