Herb Growing in South Africa

© Marinda Louw

The description of plants as a herb generally refers to a group of plants that have been exploited by humans for their Aromatic, Culinary or Medicinal uses.

The Oxford Dictionary describes a herb as “any non-woody seed bearing plant with leaves, seeds or flowers used for flavouring, medicine or scent”. Other than being used extensively as flavouring in food, many herbs in South Africa today are being produced for the valuable oils in their flowers and leaves. 

In South Africa flowers and foliage are distilled to extract essential oils that are used in aromatherapy, for medicinal purposes and in the food industry as flavourings in beverages and foods. One of the most lucrative markets for some of these oils is the perfume industry where returns to producers can be very lucrative. 

In this series, SouthAfrica.co.za will deal with the most popular commercially produced herbs for their use as culinary and medicinal additives in South Africa.

SouthAfrica.co.za have tried to provide an accurate production guideline for each herb, its production and uses in South Africa. We advise that when deciding to invest in a commercial herb growing production operation in South Africa, it is best to involve the services of the closest extension officer or specialist to assist with your planning and the implementation of your herb farming enterprise.


The basil bush grows to about 700 mm tall and has a herbaceous stem that hardens and becomes woody as the plant matures....more


Chives are thought to have originated in Asia and Eastern Europe. Today chives are cultivated worldwide....more


Coriander originates from the Near East, the first evidence of the plant, its cultivation and use by humans is over 6 000 years ago from Egypt to Turkey, Central Asia and Persia....more


Lavender is native to Western and Central Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa. In this guide we will deal with the two main types used in the production of essential oil...more


The Oregano plant is a hardy perennial that grows to about 500 mm in height and has a grey-green leaf....more


There are two main types of parsley, the curly leaf parsley (Crispum) which is a slightly tougher plant, and the more delicate Italian flat-leaf parsley (Neapolitanum)....more


Rosemary is a hardy evergreen plant that grows in temperate climates and performs best in temperatures of between 18°C and 26°C. It is also tolerant of frost....more


Sage originates from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Asian countries. There are close to a thousand different types and cultivars of Salvia or sage plants. For the purpose of commercial production...more


Thyme is a hardy semi-evergreen plant that grows in warm dry Mediterranean climates and performs best in temperatures of between 20°C and 30°C. It is tolerant to frost once established....more