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Basil and oregano are great additions to the garden and to the kitchen, and there are multiple varieties of each herb to try.

Greek oregano is the most common for cooking, but you can also try Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican oregano. Greek oregano is perennial in our area (USDA zone 8b) but the other three are tropical and must be brought indoors to survive winter. Or, you can treat them as annuals and replant every spring.

Basil offers even more options. Sweet basil is the standard for cooking, and a variety called Genovese has larger leaves and intense flavor. In addition, try Lemon basil, with a citrusy scent as the name implies, and Spicy Globe basil. Red Rubin basil and Dark Opal basil bring color to the garden and are great in herbal vinegars. All of these are annuals but most will re-seed.

Another variety, African Blue basil, is larger than the others with coarser leaves, and it isn’t as good for cooking, but it’s a great addition to the garden. It’s purple-blue flower spikes attract pollinators, and it’s a perennial that can last several years.

So broaden your herbal palate and palette.
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