How to grow a aromatherapy herb garden


I know I promised you a rose garden, but I'll show you how to plant a herb garden instead, it's cheaper and the aromatherapy garden smells better.


On this page:

  • Growing herbs
  • Planning your very own aromatherapy garden
  • List of Aromatherapy herbs and their essential oils and their uses
  • How to make herbal tea


Herb garden plan
Herb garden plan

How to grow a herb and aromatherapy garden.  

Herbs are a particularly wise choice for your aromatherapy garden because they can be cut, dried, and used all year round.


What is the best position for a Herb garden?


Herbs for sunny areas

Drought-loving Mediterranean herbs, such as Sage, Rosemary and Thyme  grow best in a sunny spot in well draining soil. 

Herbs for partial shade

Angelica, Chervil and Parsley all prefer a rich, moist soil and partial shade.


Herbs can be grown in flowerpots, containers, raised herb beds or in the kitchen garden.

If your garden tends to be shady, growing in pots and movable containers mean you can follow the sunshine.


Type of soil and planting position are important factors to consider when growing a herb garden.

A good position to plant and grow herbs is near  the kitchen, patio door or under a window, to benefit from the aroma the herbs will give off, herbs smell great on a hot summer's day.

Most herbs like full sun a few prefer part shade, so also consider the best position for full sun or partial shade to provide the best growing conditions for your herb garden.


Best Soil for growing herbs.

If your soil is mostly clay it will be rich in the nutrients your herb garden needs, but will not drain well, so add grit sand to the bed. If your soil is sandy it will be low in nutrients, but will drain well, dig in compost from the compost heap.

How to find out what type of soil you have in your garden.


Growing herbs from seed or plants, what's best? Most herbs, like coriander, dill and salad rocket are better grown from seed sown direct into the growing position, as transplanting causes them to bolt and run to flower, missing out the leaf stage, but if you can't wait to get your herb garden going, buy ready-grown herb plants that are easily transplanted. Once planted, the coriander, dill and salad rocket seeds can be sown around them later.


Herbs you can grow from seed.

  • Basil enhances tomato, fish, pasta and poultry and is sown annually.   
  • Dill, the light, aromatic flavour of both leaf and seed enhances fish, lamb or rice dishes and again is an annual that likes free-draining soil.  
  • Savory is aromatic with peppery taste, the leaves are great with grilled fish and lamb, likes dry soil.  
  • Sorrel, the young leaves taste good in salads and soups, and can be used as a meat tenderiser, Sorrel Likes rich moist soil.  
  • Wild rocket, the peppery leaves add zing to any salad. Likes light shade in moist, well-fed soil.

Best place in a garden to grow herbs and aromatherapy plants

Best planting positions for herbs

Like most plants, herbs look best planted in groups with the taller herbs grouped at the back of the raised herb bed and bushy plants like Rosemary on the edge, so they spread over without taking up valuable planting space.

Try to position even the low growing herbs so they fall over the front and edges of your herb garden. When you brush past them they smell great. Depending on the herb varieties you choose to plant, you should be able to fit four to five plants into each 15in space. Herbs can also be planted anywhere in the garden and some like Feverfew are great companion plants for garden pest control, check out my companion planting page.


looking after herbs.

Looking after a Herb garden is fairly simple, add a liquid feed to your watering can once a week during the growing season. Regularly pick from the tips of plants to encourage new growth.

In autumn, the old stems of annual herbs like basil and coriander can be added to your compost heap or left to add interest through the winter months. Autumn is also a good time to plant woody herbs like rosemary.

Perennial herbs like mint, thyme, oregano and chives will die back and regrow in the spring. If the perennial herbs become congested, dig up the plant and split into sections. Replant some and pot the others up for neighbours or to sell at car-boot sales. 


 The Essential Oil Maker's Handbook: Extracting, Distilling and Enjoying Plant Essences  

Essential oils are more in demand now than ever, but modern production methods and unscrupulous labeling practices make it difficult for consumers to know whether an oil is genuine or artificial. Healers utilising these age-old materials now have the guidance needed to make their own essential oils and thereby be certain of integrity and efficacy. Producing essential oils and hydrosols in small quantities is easier than imagined with the guidance of Austrian master distillers Helge Schmickl and Bettina Malle. Translated from its original German, The Essential Oil Maker s Handbook has been revised and updated to include information on hydrosols, the aromatic water once considered a mere by-product but now recognized as a valuable substance in itself. The authors provide guidance on the harvesting, processing, and use of 130 indigenous and exotic plants as well as the necessary equipment for oil extraction. Including about 40 base recipes for personal care products from bathing additives to facial and body care to perfume this book provides a solid foundation for beginners and professionals.

This detailed aromatherapy guide offers tips on how design for fragrance, with tips on where to place plants, how to layer the aroma, and advice on companion plants. A plant directory includes growing information and aromatherapy uses for 88 fragrant plants. And a section dedicated to bring fragrance indoors includes simple techniques for making potpourri, herbs, dried wreaths, herb pillows, natural cleaning products and teas.

Producing essential oils and hydrosols in small quantities is easier than imagined. The Essential Oil Maker s Handbook  provides guidance on the harvesting, processing, and use of 130 indigenous and exotic plants as well as the necessary equipment for oil extraction. Including about 40 base recipes for personal care products from bathing additives to facial and body care to perfume this book provides a solid foundation for beginners and professionals.

Planning your very own aromatherapy garden

by Marilyn Reid

When you consider the benefits of aromatherapy, your thoughts probably turn to all the great benefits you get from using essential oils. It's easy to forget that aromatherapy can embrace healing and soothing odors from all sorts of different sources, isn't it? This definitely includes the unique natural aromas that come from well-chosen plants. If you'd like to plant a garden of your own with an eye on its aromatherapy potential, this guide can help.

Picture flowerbeds brimful of luxuriant sweet blossoms and tart, distinctive herbs. (Herbs are a particularly wise choice for your aromatherapy garden because they can be cut, dried, and used all year round. Remember that your garden can still pay dividends in winter!) Even if your living arrangements don't include a lot of open land, don't think that you have to give up on this attractive dream. It's entirely possible to create a rich-smelling little spot using window boxes, balcony pots, or even indoor plants.

Pulling together a great garden of scents that are healthy and delightful isn't as hard as you might think. All of the selections are entirely up to you, and you are free to blend personal favorites together with species that are prized for their therapeutic excellence. As long as you spend a little time planning out your choices, you will end up very pleased with the results.

Smell is our most visceral, instinctive scent. It connects with us on a level that is very nearly subconscious. This is why scents have the ability to unlock powerful memories that are otherwise all but lost to us. The biology behind this curious fact has to do with the way our noses are wired. Their information runs directly to the limbic system, a primitive part of the brain that governs our emotions and our long-term memories.

Despite the highly subjective nature of smells, over time people have noticed that certain scents strike most people the same way. Cataloging these common effects was one of the earliest forms of aromatherapy. In medieval Europe, for instance, the potent odor of basil was believed to ward off melancholy and wild thyme was used to invigorate and inspire people.

Most people, though they don't know it, can recognize about 10,000 distinct odors. In the case of plants and flowers, distinctive odors are created by volatile odors. These oils come from blossoms, leaves, stems, seeds and even sometimes, a plant's roots. The sheer variety of different oils present in plants matches the diversity of plant species; researchers have cataloged over 3,000 such oils which each a unique chemical composition.

You can start your aromatherapy garden by thinking about how you want the finished space to feel. It's also a good idea to arrange your plantings and furnishings to create an enclosed space. This is not only a way to make you aromatherapy garden more private; the small, confined space will act to concentrate the potent oils given off by your chosen plants. This is just one form your aromatherapy garden could take, but it's a particularly powerful and intimate one.

If you have plenty of space to work with, the subtle games you can play with scents and aromas are virtually endless. Plant aromatic favorites close to your garden paths so that you (and your visitors) will always get a pleasant whiff as you move through the space. Herbs and other plants that end up used in small quantities in the kitchen are best located close to the door to your home so that you can easily pick them.

Remember that your local climate and the needs of your different plant species do need to be reconciled. It's not possible to get every form of aromatic plant to thrive in every climate, so you may need to make some compromises.

Cultivating a great aromatherapy garden is about mixing together scents from many different plants. Think about the way strong fragrances like those of jasmine or gardenia might clash and compete with each other. You may find it helpful to plant most of your aromatics in containers so that you can rearrange them as they gain and lose potency. This also lets you bring your favorites inside during the winter.

* You can spread natural aromas through the house in winter by simmering fragrant herbs. A favorite blend is cinnamon, vetiver, and star anise.

* To grow your own herbal bath ingredients, plant lemongrass, lavender, and rosemary. Dry the leaves (and the lavender flowers) and store them in a breathable cloth bag. Steep this in your bath water before getting in.

* Make your own herbal oils by adding lavender and eucalyptus to almond oil. This turns into a terrific homemade massage oil after a week or two.

* Make sachets of your favorite soothing herbs. Place these inside your pillowcase to enjoy peaceful scents when you sleep. A few great choices are lavender, chamomile, and hops.

Marilyn Reid is a successful business owner and natural health enthusiast. She owns a site,, which is dedicated to providing tips, ideas, and recipes for use with essential oils and aromatherapy.

Planting your own aromatherapy garden with herbs.

Herb Garden Collection

Ideal selection of seeds to start your herb garden.

Anise, caraway, Cumin, Fennel, Marjoram, Parsley, Coriander, Dill, Peppermint and chives.

10 Packs of Herb Seeds £7.99

Herb Kitchen Garden Kit for your windowsill  £5.49   Grow your own basil, parsley, chives and coriander

Cut and come again herbs

Includes seed, pots, compost and wooden trough

Suitable for indoor and outdoor growing

Aromatherapy herbs and their essential oils and their uses

 Uses for Aromatherapy herbs and their essential oils in alphabetical order. 


Aches and pains– eucalyptus

Anxiety – basil, bergamot, cedarwood, hyssop, neroli, patchouli, ylang-ylang

Appetite stimulate – bergamot, ginger, myrrh

Asthma- pine

Broken capillaries – lemon

Bronchitis – myrrh

Catarrh - myrrh

 Cell renewal – lavender

Cellulite - fennel

Concentration – basil, rosemary - memory

Circulation – benzoin, black pepper, cinnamon, cypress, lavender, lemon grass, rose, rosemary, thyme, ylang-ylang

Colds and coughs – black pepper, cinnamon, eucalyptus, thyme

Cystitis – cedarwood

Dandruff - cedarwood 

Depression – bergamot, camphor, chamomile, clary sage, jasmine, juniper, thyme

Diarrhea – eucalyptus, chamomile; Constipation - fennel

Digestion – basil, bergamot, black pepper, chamomile, cinnamon, fennel, geranium (pelargonium), ginger, hyssop, lavender (indigestion), lemon grass, marjoram (sweet), Melissa, myrrh, peppermint, rose, rosemary, thyme


Exhaustion – cinnamon

 Eczema - juniper

 Fades bruises - hyssop

 Fever – Melissa

 Fatigue – peppermint, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, thyme

 Frustration – ylang-ylang

 General debility – clove

 Headaches – basil, lavender, marjoram (sweet), peppermint, rose, rosemary, thyme

 High blood pressure – marjoram (sweet)

 Hypertension - hyssop

Infection – lavender

 Inflammation - frankincense

 Influenza – cypress, pine

 Insect bites – clary sage, lavender

 Insomnia – camphor, clary sage, lavender, neroli 

 Kidney – geranium (pelargonium), pine

 Laryngitis – cypress

 Liver – geranium (pelargonium)

 Low blood pressure - sage

 Lung – bergamot, cedarwood

 Mature skin – cypress, patchouli, frankincense

 Menstrual problems – chamomile, clary sage, geranium (pelargonium), Melissa

 Menopause – fennel, purple sage

 Mouth sores – clove

 Muscle tone – lemon grass

Muscular aches and pains – black pepper, juniper, lavender,  rosemary, thyme

 Muscular cramps – cypress, marjoram (sweet)



 Nausea – fennel, sandalwood

 Nervous debility - coriander

 Nervous system – geranium (pelargonium)

 Nervous tension – benzoin, Melissa

 Neuralgia – clove, Melissa

 Respiratory problems – basil, benzoin, camphor, clove, eucalyptus, frankincense, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, lemon, marjoram (sweet), Melissa, pine, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, tea tree, thyme

 Rheumatic pain – coriander, ginger, niaouli

 Shock - camphor

 Sinus problems - pine

 Skin – chamomile, geranium (pelargonium), jasmine,

lavender, neroli,patchouli, rose, sage

Skin inflammations - myrrh

 Skin irritation – benzoin, peppermint

 Skin – dry – sandalwood, clary sage

 Skin - mature – cypress, frankincense, patchouli   

Skin – oily – bergamot, camphor, fennel, lemon grass

Skin sores – clove, juniper

Skin ulcers - niaouli

Sore throats – clary sage, ginger, lemon

Stress – rose, lavender

Toothache - peppermint

 Travel sickness - peppermint

Wounds & skin infections – eucalyptus, tea tree


Most studies of aromatherapy have not found any real evidence they work, but also haven't  turned up any evidence of adverse reactions.

and don’t advise people to avoid aromatherapy,  but most experts advise pregnant or breastfeeding women, kids and people with health problems to speak with a doctor before using essential oils.


How to make herbal tea


One of the best ways to extract the medicinal properties of herbs is to make herbal tea that provides a helpful supplement to your daily diet. To get the best flavour use fresh herbs from your herb garden.

You will need about five fresh leaves for each cup of boiled water. Use a few more or a few less, once you have decided on the taste you prefer. Place them on a clean piece of kitchen towel, lightly crush, and then add to a cup or teapot. Pour over the boiled water that has been cooled to just below boiling and cover. 

Covering is especially important as this stops the essential oils, which are medicinally beneficial, evaporating off in the steam. Leave to brew for five minutes. Strain if necessary into a cup. Herb teas can be sweetened with honey to taste. 

Herb teas to try:

  • Chamomile tea, made from the flowers is lovely last thing at night to aid sleep.
  • Dill seed tea is useful for calming griping pains.
  • Peppermint leaf tea drunk after a meal aids digestion.
  • Lemon balm tea made from the leaves is a mild anti-depressant and also relieves tiredness, headaches and reputedly restores the memory.
  • Sage is very good to use as herbal tea when you have throat problems.

Examples of herbs used for specific purposes.

  • Annual culinary herbs: basil, dill, summer savory.
  • Perennial culinary herbs: mint, rosemary, thyme, tarragon.
  • Herbs used for potpourri: lavender, lemon verbena.
  • Herbs used for tea: mint, lemon verbena, cannabis, chamomile, bergamot, Hibiscus sabdariffa (for making karkade).
  • Herbs used for other purposes: stevia for sweetening, feverfew for pest control in the garden.
  • Camomile is great planted under garden benches and in pathways for its aroma when crushed underfoot, check out my Camomile lawn  page.
  • Aromatic herbs to spice teas and give them flavour.  Allspice, Anise, Caraway, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Ginger
  • Herbs that help sooth and prevent internal irritations, like stomach upset. Arrowroot, Borage, Coltsfoot, Comfrey root.
  • Licorice root, Marshmallow leaves and root, Slippery elm bark.
  • Herbs to help nerviness.   Bugleweed. Catnip, Chamomile,Feverfew,  Mullein,  Paion Flower, Peppermint, Verbena.