21 Heat-Tolerant Herbs For Hot Climates

With spring comes welcomed warming temperatures, and for gardeners in hot climates, it’s prime time to start growing heat-tolerant herbs for a summer harvest. There’s no shortage of herbs that can take the heat, and some varieties make great alternatives to those that thrive in cooler seasons. We’ll enjoy harvests by the bunches all summer with the right heat-tolerant herbs. Join gardening expert Katherine Rowe in exploring heat-tolerant herbs to withstand hot summers.

Assorted black pots of aromatic herbs rest on the steps of a rustic metal staircase, creating a delightful herb garden display.


Those of us in hot climates understand the advantages of growing herbs in the cool seasons of spring, fall, and even through the winter. Some herbs struggle in high summer heat, especially with humidity in the mix.

Fortunately, warm-season options abound in heat-loving herb selections. Many herbs are Mediterranean natives, and some originate in more southerly and even tropical climates. In hot climates, herbs benefit from good air circulation, well-draining soils, consistent moisture, and, depending on the herb, protection from direct afternoon sun.

Herbs have versatile garden uses, from ornamental to culinary to pollinator-attracting. Combining heat-tolerant herbs for hot climates creates a beautiful garden arrangement bursting with seasonality. Best of all, herbs offer quick rewards. Harvest them fresh from the garden (by the armload!) with these heat-tolerant herb selections.


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Italian Genovese Basil Seeds

Lemon Balm

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Lemon Balm Seeds


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English Thyme Seeds


Vibrant basil leaves dominate the foreground, their verdant hues radiating freshness, against a backdrop of lush foliage.
Italian basils like ‘Genovese’ feature large, sweet leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Ocimum basilicum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10

Basil flourishes in hot climates, and you’ll harvest bunches from just a few plants all summer. An attractive garden herb, basil features broad, bright green leaves or narrow, deep green leaves, depending on the variety. Basil originates in India but has traveled the world to become prominent in Italian and Thai dishes.

Several types and cultivars of basil lend different culinary flavors. Italian basils like ‘Genovese’ feature large, sweet leaves. Dwarf varieties like ‘Piccolo’ have small leaves with a bushy form and the same delicious qualities. Lemon-scented basil adds citrus notes, while Thai basils like ‘Siam Queen’ carry a bit of licorice or anise flavor in the leaf.

Grow basil in organically rich, well-draining soils and harvest leaves regularly. Plants produce bloom spikes with white flowers. Remove these for the best flavor, as the blooms take energy from the leaves. Basil is tender and dies back with light frost. It’s one of the easiest herbs to grow, with prolific results and versatile uses. Pesto for everyone!


Its thick stems are harvested when they reach ½ inch wide.
botanical-name botanical name Cymbopogon citratus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

West-Indian lemongrass hails from Malaysia and prefers warm, humid conditions to thrive. Its bladed leaves have a crisp, lemony-ginger scent when crushed.

Culinary lemongrass is related to the plant we use for citronella oil (C. nardus) to repel mosquitoes and in aromatherapy. Its thick stems are crushed and cooked into sauces and soups for flavor. To harvest, cut stems when they reach ½ inch wide. Remove leaves and outer parts. Stems are thick and sturdy, ready to be cooked for their flavor (often removed from a dish after cooking).

Lemongrass grows best in moist, rich soils. It needs regular moisture without the soil drying out between rains or watering. Plants die back with the first frost or can overwinter indoors. 


Lush rosemary herbs thrive in sunlight, nestled within black pots, basking in golden rays; their fragrant foliage cascading gracefully.
This drought-tolerant perennial offers multi-season appeal with upright and cascading varieties.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia rosmarinus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Rosemary brings form and fragrance to the herb garden. In warmer zones, it is hardy year-round. In early summer, blue blooms cover the stems, attracting pollinators to the garden. 

Enjoy the lemony camphor scent throughout the year, and add flavor to dishes with the fresh leaves and flowers. Rosemary’s herby, needled foliage is highly aromatic, perfect for clipping for fragrance, decoration, and culinary goodness.

A Mediterranean plant, rosemary thrives in very well-draining soil. It’s a drought-tolerant, carefree perennial with multi-season appeal. Look for upright varieties like ‘Barbecue’ or ‘Arp’ for a stiff texture. Cascading forms like ‘Huntington Carpet’ trail and spill to soften garden spaces.


A detailed close-up of oregano leaves reveals intricate textures and jagged edges, inviting appreciation of its delicate surface intricacies.
Provide oregano with good air circulation and well-draining soils.
botanical-name botanical name Origanum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

Oregano duals as a garden ornamental with its mounding habit, delicate foliage, and tiny pink, purple, or white blooms. It’s as pretty in the perennial border as in the herb garden.

Oregano became popular in the United States when soldiers returned from World War II. They experienced it on Italian dishes and pizza while abroad and brought the taste for it home.

Native to Mediterranean climates, oregano struggles in overly wet conditions. In areas with high humidity, provide good air circulation and well-draining soils to prevent stem and root rot. A raised bed or container planting helps, too.

Oregano benefits from regular moisture. It tolerates light afternoon shade in the heat of summer. There are many species and cultivars of oregano, and it has the potential to spread aggressively in optimum growing conditions. Container-grown oregano offers a means of control. 


Lush culantro leaves, glistening with moisture, flourish in rich, dark soil contained within a pristine white strainer.
The culantro is best cooked and grows well in shady, well-drained soils.
botanical-name botanical name Eryngium foetidum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 6-10”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

It’s not a typo: culantro tastes like the familiar cilantro but is more heat-tolerant. Culantro is in the same family as cilantro (Apiaceae), but the leaves are longer, thicker, and have a more robust flavor (without an aftertaste). Cilantro grows well in cool seasons but bolts (goes quickly to seed) in climates with hot summers. Culantro offers a more heat-resistant alternative.

Culantro originates in tropical areas of the Americas and West Indies, while cilantro is native to the Mediterranean region. This tropical herb withstands cooking at high temperatures, while cilantro leaves hold up best as a fresh garnish.

Harvest culantro leaves anytime in the season and finely chop them for culinary use. Their distinct scents attract beneficial insects like green lacewings and ladybugs. In high-heat areas, culantro grows best with moist, well-drained soils in shady spots.


This requires good air circulation to prevent fungal issues in humid climates.
botanical-name botanical name Lavandula spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Lavender carries a refreshing fragrance, silvery foliage, purple bloom spikes, and many uses, from cleansing to culinary. Whether it’s one of the many English, French, Spanish, or Dutch varieties, lavender makes a showy, evergreen specimen in the herb garden and beyond

This sun-loving Mediterranean plant grows in arid, warm summers and cool winters. Grow lavender in full sun in average and well-draining soils. Plants tolerate dry conditions.

In hot climates with high humidity, use more tolerant varieties like L. x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ and ‘L. angustifolia ‘Superblue’. Lavender needs good air circulation; too much moisture leads to fungal issues like root and stem rot.

Lemon Balm

These herbs benefit from regular trimming to maintain growth.
botanical-name botanical name Melissa officinalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Lemon balm is worth growing for the simple pleasure of sweeping a hand across the lemony-scented foliage as you breeze by in the garden. It’s instant refreshment with aromatic uses, fresh or dried, and culinary flavors for teas and beverages, soups, sauces, and more. 

Mounding plants have oval or heart-shaped bright green leaves, some varieties with variegation. The low-growing plants are dense and produce small bloom spikes in summer and fall. Leaves are edible, and fresh new leaves are the most flavorful.

Grow lemon balm in full sun to partial shade in rich soils with good drainage. They spread easily (and at times aggressively) and reseed after flowering. Trimming and deadheading keep plants in check and promote a fresh flush of leaves. You can also grow lemon balm in containers or raised beds to keep them from getting out of bounds. 

Pineapple Sage

Red pineapple sage flowers contrast against lush green leaves, reaching skyward with graceful elegance.
Edible pineapple sage leaves and flowers with fruity flavor attract pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia elegans
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

While on a tropical fruit kick, let’s explore the highly ornamental pineapple sage. This salvia is heat-tolerant and grows in dappled shade, brightening the display with scarlet blooms in late summer and fall.

The leaves and flowers of pineapple sage are edible, and their fruity flavor is reminiscent of mint and pineapple. The nectar-rich tubular blooms draw hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Pineapple sage thrives in moist, well-drained soils and tolerates moderate drought. It grows in full sun to partial shade, and ideal garden placement receives morning sun and dappled afternoon shade.


A close-up of mint leaves, illuminated by soft light, revealing intricate textures and delicate veins.
Manage the growth of mint by regularly harvesting its leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Mentha spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-10

Mint creates a low-growing carpet of freshly-scented leaves. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha x piperita) are popular species and extremely easy to grow. Cultivars like applemint, pineapple, orange, and chocolate lend unique undertones to mint fragrance and flavor.

Harvest leaves frequently to enjoy and to prevent spreading, flowering, and seed production. Mint spreads readily and escapes the herb garden into adjacent landscapes if not controlled. Mint makes an excellent container-grown herb. The stems, even those trailing from containers, root easily with soil contact.

Mint grows best in consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade in hot climates. 


Vibrant patchouli leaves, their serrated edges catch the gentle light, creating a lush, green scene.
This plant thrives in rich, moist soils with warm temperatures.
botanical-name botanical name Pogostemon cablin
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Patchouli is a heat-loving herb that flourishes in warm, humid conditions. When crushed, the fragrant leaves emit a spicy, woody scent and dry well for potpourri and incense.

Patchouli is an understory plant native to subtropical Asia. It prefers rich, moist soils and warm day and nighttime temperatures.

Patchouli thrives in partial shade or the morning sun with protection from direct afternoon rays. Its tender leaves scorch and sunburn easily and die back with cold temperatures.

Bay Laurel

Tall bay laurel in a pot, bathed in sunlight, stands gracefully against a backdrop of brick ground; its green leaves catching the light.
Container-grown bay laurel is easily shaped and thrives with regular watering.
botanical-name botanical name Laurus nobilis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 8-12′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Bay laurel, or sweet bay, is a unique herb garden addition. It is a small, evergreen shrub or tree with attractive dark green and glossy leaves. Bay leaves are flavorful culinary additions, both fresh and dried. They are widely used in slow-cooking to flavor soups, stews, roasts, and sauces (removing the leaf before serving).

Bay is a slow-grower that is well-suited to container culture. Potted plants overwinter indoors where they are not hardy. Plants take shaping and pruning well, which promotes fresh growth.

Bay laurel is an easy-care plant. It needs little more than regular water and partial shade in hot climates for best growth. In cooler areas, it grows in full sun.


A cluster of fresh thyme herbs, each boasting delicate green leaves, entwined together in a harmonious arrangement.
Varieties like creeping and wooly thyme serve as ground covers.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Thyme and its many species and cultivars lend a variety of flavors to the kitchen. Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is used most for culinary purposes with a minty clove fragrance. Lemon, orange, and nutmeg are other varieties with unique aromatic and flavor notes. Thyme is versatile in the garden with culinary and ornamental uses, fitting into small spaces as a carefree, durable herb.

Though the plants are tough, thyme features petite leaves on wiry stems for a delicate look. Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) forms a groundcover, and wooly thyme (Thymus praecox) is useful as a turf alternative. Thyme also works in areas between stepping stones and along rocky ledges. Its small flowers attract pollinators.

Thyme grows best in full sun and fast-draining soils, especially in southern climates. Once established, it is drought-tolerant. Plants wither in overly wet conditions. I’ve had luck growing it in coastal South Carolina with other dry-site plants like catmint, rosemary, yarrow, and even roses.


Tall, sun-kissed savory leaves sway gracefully in the breeze, their vivid green hues contrasting against the golden sunlight.
Summer savory prefers full sun and moderately moist, well-drained soil.
botanical-name botanical name Satureja spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

Look to savory for an herb that stands up to hot summers and is similar in flavor to thyme. Georgia savory, Clinopodium carolinianum, is a native savory that flourishes in high heat. 

Satureja montana, winter savory, is planted in early spring for harvesting in the summer. The plants grow quickly on low-growing forms and have edible leaves and flowers. Plants bear a peppery spice flavor, used fresh or dried for salads, stews, meats, and sauces.

Satureja hortensis is summer savory, an annual cousin to the perennial winter savory. Summer savory has a milder peppery flavor to winter savory. While plants grow quickly, they don’t thrive in wet conditions. If your hot climate experiences humidity or frequent rainfall, opt for the native Georgia savory or winter savory.

Savory grows well in full sun with moderately moist soils with good drainage. It tolerates poor soils and occasionally dry conditions.


‘Berggarten’ is a mildew-resistant variety with silvery leaves and lavender blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia officinalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Sage is a classic herb garden favorite with its fresh, earthy scent and velvety leaves. Sage varieties have leaves in blue-gray, gold, purple, and tricolor. They also make excellent sensory garden, rock garden, and perennial border additions.

Sage is another Mediterranean plant that grows in full sun but benefits from afternoon shade cover in scorching summer climates. It thrives in medium to dry soils – even poor ones – as long as they have excellent drainage. Sage struggles in overly wet conditions. In especially hot climates, it may look its best in the cool seasons, but southern gardeners successfully grow it in the summer with shade protection.

Look for S. officinalis ‘Berggarten’ (also called ‘Herrenhausen’) for a variety with increased mildew resistance in hot and humid climates. It features broad, silvery leaves and lavender bloom spikes in summer (sage flowers are edible, too). ‘Berggarten’ won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its ornament and performance.

Mexican Tarragon

This summer annual thrives in full sun and light soils.
botanical-name botanical name Tagetes lucida
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

Also called summer tarragon, Mexican marigold, and Spanish tarragon, Mexican tarragon is a heat-loving alternative to French tarragon.  

Native to Central and South America, Mexican tarragon grows best in full sun and light soils and adapts to various soil types, including sand and clay. Its tender leaves are frost-sensitive, growing as a summer annual in cool climates. 

Summer tarragon produces clusters of gold, daisy-like flowers in late summer and fall. The flowers are edible and sweet, ideal for teas and garnishes. Deadhead to prolong flowering. The leaves are also edible and have an anise flavor.

Lemon Verbena

The lemon verbena can be pruned and overwintered in containers.
botanical-name botanical name Aloysia triphylla
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Lemon verbena is an ornamental herb bursting with lemony goodness, as all plant parts are aromatic. Among the most sweetly fragrant of the lemon-scented herbs, lemon verbena flourishes in the summer heat and is hardy in mild climates.

Lemon verbena has narrow, dark, glossy green leaves and produces small white flowers. Leaves are delightful in teas and cold beverages, desserts, and potpourris. Grow lemon verbena in consistently moist soils with good drainage in full sun.

Lemon verbena has a bushy, somewhat sprawling habit. It takes pruning well and is a good fit for growing in containers. In cool climates, cut back container plants severely in the fall and overwinter them in a sheltered area like a garage or basement until spring.

Anise Hyssop

This plant thrives in various soil types and light conditions..
botanical-name botanical name Agastache foeniculum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Anise hyssop adds vertical interest with upright stems lined with delicate tubular blooms. The showiest of the native mints, Agastache foeniculum, is an old garden favorite with purple-blue bloom spikes that rise above gray-green, aromatic foliage. Anise hyssop is a rich nectar source for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

Agastache foeniculum is native to northern North America and has a widespread range. It’s a rugged perennial that thrives in full sun to partial shade in various soil types as long as they’re well-draining.

Suited for both the herb garden and perennial bed, anise hyssop blooms profusely in summer through frost. Cut back spent blooms to enjoy prolific flowering all season.

Lavender Cotton

This Mediterranean plant adapts to different soil types and responds well to pruning.
botanical-name botanical name Santolina chamaecyparissus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-9

Lavender cotton, or santolina, is an Old World herb grown for its attractive and aromatic silvery foliage, rugged adaptability, and qualities as a low-growing, mounding groundcover. These small, woody shrubs are ideal accents along bed edges, borders, and walkways.

In the summer, lavender cotton bears masses of sunny yellow button blooms on stems rising above the foliage. This Mediterranean plant is evergreen and drought-tolerant when established. It’s well-suited to coastal exposure and hot summer conditions but dislikes humidity. In humid zones, santolina is susceptible to fungal diseases. 

Santolina grows best in full sun, and in average, well-draining soils allowed to dry out between waterings. It adapts to various soil types, from sandy to clay to rocky. Plants tolerate shearing well and will produce more silvery gray leaves when trimmed. 

Scented-Leaved Geranium

These plants are suitable for both indoor and outdoor gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Pelargonium spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Scented-leaved geraniums are among the numerous species of Pelargonium and are grown for their dynamic foliage in unique fragrances, shapes, colors, and textures in the summer herb garden.

The leaves contain essential oils that, when brushed, release the scents of rose, citrus, mint, nutmeg, coconut, apricot, strawberry, apple, and more. They’re versatile plants in the garden and containers, indoors and out. In the kitchen, use the edible flowers and leaves of scented-leaved geraniums to embellish beverages and teas, fresh fruits and salads, baked goods, dressings, and vinegars.

Drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, scented-leaved geraniums thrive in arid climates, where they dry out between waterings. As adaptable plants, they also tolerate hot and humid conditions, given plenty of air circulation.

Provide geraniums with at least four to six hours of sunlight for bloom. In hot climates, offer protection from direct afternoon sun. Geraniums thrive with regular water in well-drained soils, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. To prevent disease, water at the plant’s base, avoiding the leaves.

Mountain Mint

Its aromatic leaves are suitable for culinary uses and teas.
botanical-name botanical name Pycnanthemum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Mountain mint is a valuable native plant in hot-climate herb gardens for its aromatic, velvety leaves and pink blooms from mid-summer through fall. Silvery flower bracts “dust” the plant in a pearly sheen. This pollinator magnet is showy and informal, well-suited to naturalized arrangements. 

Mountain mint is native to the Eastern U.S., with a wide range that includes Texas and Michigan and on over from Florida to Maine. It grows naturally in grassy, open fields, meadows, and low woodland areas. It prefers moist, rich soils with good drainage in full sun to partial shade.

Mountain mint is a clump-forming woody plant that spreads by rhizomes but isn’t invasive. Cut the roots with a spade to control the spread if the plant gets out of bounds. When crushed, the leaves have a spearmint aroma and are flavorful in cooking and teas.


Fuchsia pink monarda blooms tower gracefully on slender purple stems, casting a striking contrast against lush green leaves below.
Controlling plant spread involves dividing and weeding out volunteers.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

The Monarda species contains plants also known as wild bergamot or bee balm. They are native to the eastern U.S. and are favorite garden performers due to their outstanding scarlet blooms. Two-inch blooms with flared petals cluster on stems above minty foliage. With its bright, tubular blooms, monarda attracts hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

Numerous hybrids offer vibrant flowers in purple, pink, and red hues. ‘Jacob Cline’ in brilliant red is a hardy variety with good powdery-mildew resistance. The bloom season is long, lasting from early summer through fall. Enjoy the edible flowers and minty leaves as a fresh garnish for salads and drinks, or dry them for use in cooking.

Provide plenty of air circulation, organic soils, and consistent moisture for monarda. Cut back spent blooms to prolong flowering, which lasts from early summer through fall. Monarda spreads by both seeds and rhizomes, so divide plants and weed out volunteers to control the spread.

Final Thoughts:

Growing herbs offers a bounty of fresh garden rewards. Many herb selections perform well in hot summer climates with the right cultural conditions. Herbs are also highly ornamental, bringing beauty, interest, and color to the display

Pollinators and beneficial insects enjoy herbs as much as we do. As an added benefit, many herbs’ aromatic and often textured foliage dissuades deer and rabbits from nibbling. Spring is the perfect time to plant warm-season herbs. The quick-growers will be ready for summer’s harvest in a flash.

A wooden raised bed showcases a lush assortment of herbs, vibrant green with pops of purple and white flowers, creating a lively botanical haven in the garden.


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Herbs that grow well together. Close-up of a raised bed containing herbs such as parsley, marjoram, sage, thyme, and mint thriving in a garden setting.


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Close-up of an English thyme plant against a blurred background. English thyme is a compact, aromatic herb with slender, woody stems and small, oval-shaped leaves densely arranged along the stems. The leaves are a vibrant shade of green and feature a smooth texture.


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Closeup of a gardener woman harvesting culinary herbs in the garden. Rosemary and lemon balm grow in the garden bed. The girl picks fresh lemon balm. Melissa is a perennial herb with bright green, heart-shaped leaves that emit a lemony scent. Rosemary is an evergreen shrub with needle-like, aromatic leaves that are dark green on top and silvery underneath.


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