I grow a lot of herbs in the tropics, including those normally associated with cooler or Mediterranean climates. There are some special tropical herbs that do particularly well, but you should be able to grow most herbs without too much difficulty. This post gives you a list of herbs that can be grown in a tropical climate, plus some tips on how to grow them.
List of Herbs That Can Be Grown In The Tropics
Probably the easiest herb to grow in a tropical garden, in pots or in soil, is Thai Basil. This bushy herb will give you leaves and flowers the bees love, all year round. It grows as a perennial but I would suggest having more than one plant. These plants do have a tendency to die for no particular reason.
All of the herbs below I have personally had success growing, in containers,, in raised beds, and pots.
- Thai or Asian basil in various flavours.
- Sweet or European basil.
- Fennel fronds
- Corriander, Asian and cilantro. Cilantro bolts fast in the sun.
- Mint, various types.
- Chives – garlic or flat leaf chives. I haven’t tried European chives yet.
- Cuban oregano or Mother of Herbs.
- Taragon – it grows, but mine has very little flavour.
- Parsley, flat leaf and curly
- Lemon grass.
- Kaffir lime leaf
- Vietnamese mint
Most of the above herbs aren’t truly tropical and will need some protection from intense sun and tropical rain. But all of the above will and can grow in a tropical environment. I know because I grow them!
Other Flavourings and Aromatics You Can Grow in The Tropics
- chili peppers
- various spices, for instance pepper, allspice, and cinnamon (of these I only grow pepper, so far!)
Growing Herbs in the Tropical Wet Season
The wet season brings torrential rain and most herbs don’t like sitting in saturated soil. This is why, in the tropics, we often build our beds up to sit above the water level and proving the plants with OK drainage.
Growing Herbs in the Dry Season
Good soil, frequent waterings and mulch are the most important factors in getting your herbs to survive the dry season. I tend to water morning and night, twice a day, when it’s very dry.
Good soil, containing plenty of organic material should hold the water well. If your soil is dry within minutes of watering, you need to add good organic compost or worm castings, anything that will act like a sponge. Those extra nutrients and microscopic organisms will help your plants too.
Growing Herbs Indoors
If space is limited outside, yes, it is entirely possible to grow herbs indoors in pots. All you need is sunlight from a window, but even if that isn’t available, daylight grow lights can be purchased.
Growing Herbs in Aquaponics Systems
Aquaponics systems use water, fish, and plants in harmony to produce well-nourished and watered plants. You can buy a small hydroponics system for use indoors and these are perfect for a small crop of herbs.
Take a look at this counter-top aquaponics set-up, perfect for a few herbs indoors.
This is an ever-evolving list of herbs I’ve tried to grow, and grown successfully in the tropical wet and dry seasons. Some I buy as starts from nurseries, some I grow from cuttings or seeds. I have a new herb seed order in right now, I’m looking forward to trying some new varieties of herbs. We also have a full list of food plants we’ve successfully grown in the tropics.