The Sammis Greenhouse Herb Reference

Est. 2000; Centre Hall, PA

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Getting ready for Spring!

Hello! We’ve been hard at work in the greenhouse since December prepping this year’s crop. Feel free to visit our Facebook page to see cool behind the scenes photos!

I’ve been working on the herb table the past week. Most of the 4″ pots are planted now. Next up: small pots of seeded  herbs, and bigger pots of rosemary, lavender, lemon verbena, and scented geraniums.



My next big task will be to update the variety list for this year. O_o Always an endeavour.

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Herb list updated

I’ve updated the herb list to give a better overview of what’s sold out and added a new color code to show what we’re getting low on– if you want these, best hurry! There’s only one or two plants left in some cases.

We still have a great herb selection, with much more available than is usual for this time of year. I planted extras of many things that we normally sell out of (like French tarragon and rosemary), so there’s still plenty to choose from. There’s still time this summer to plant herbs in your garden and have them root in well enough to survive the winter! I’ve planted in September & October and had everything come back.

If you’re limited on garden space or are just looking for something temporary, I’m also periodically making up new planter combinations. There are plenty of great mixed herb planters in different sizes, on sale ranging from $4.99 to $15.99! These are great to keep & use yourself or to give as gifts. They’re chock full of tasty and beautiful herbs. (Someday I’ll share photos. I’m currently out of state on a borrowed computer!)

Hope you’re all having a lovely summer!

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Seeded herbs

Last week I seeded a variety of herbs directly into little pots; they’re coming up nicely, so I’ve added them to the list. (This brings this year’s selection up to 96 different herbs! I think we’ll make it to 100, though. I have a few miscellaneous lavender that I just planted, and there are some seedlings that are being slow & I don’t want to advertise yet.)

I meant to take a picture today and forgot. I was pretty liberal with the seeds, so the pots look really lush and full. And they’re only 99¢ each! Since they were just seeded they are still very small, but I noticed people buying them this weekend regardless.


I’m working on an article about plant names, so expect to see that sometime soon! It’s taking a bit longer than expected simply because I am in the greenhouse so much that I have limited time to work on the blog. (Boo.) Also in the works is a huge master list of herbs– this has been several years in the making, and will contain a wealth of information and photos of varieties I’ve grown over the years. I’m really excited to have all that info in one convenient place, but it has felt daunting to tackle at times!

Pictures soon! Have a nice weekend, all. :)

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Light: Differentiating Between Sun & Shade

One of the hardest parts of successful gardening can be giving your plants the right amount of sunlight. Some plants thrive in hot, dry, all-day-sun conditions, and others… don’t. Most can take some range between sun and shade. Remember that all plants need light to photosynthesize and produce energy to keep themselves alive. Some just need more than others! The goal is to identify what kind of light your desired planting location has, and to then pick the plants that will do best there.

Let’s break this down into three general categories: Sun, Part sun/part shade, and Shade.


A sunny location gets direct sun all or most of the day. ‘Direct sun’ means that there is nothing between the sun and the plant; if you were there, you’d be working on your tan. If the location gets all-day sun, it means just that– pretty much the entire span of time between the sun coming up and going down, it would be shining on that spot. ‘Most of the day’ means that a few hours might get shaved off either end of that span, but the hours of sun still vastly outnumber the hours of shade.

For example, the sun hits most of my garden from about 8 or 9 am to 4 or 5 pm. The garden gets sun during the hottest part of the day, and sun-loving plants like roses, lavender, oregano, sage, and thyme all thrive. My golden oregano, however, gets scorched leaves, because it prefers…..

Part sun or Part shade

This is a spot that might get equal hours of sun and shade during the day. Here’s some basic examples as to how that time can be broken up:

  • sun from dawn to noon or early afternoon, then shade for the rest of the day
  • the reverse~ shade til early afternoon, then sun onwards
  • shade in the morning & late afternoon, but sun at midday when it’s hottest
  • the reverse again~ sun in the morning and later again in the afternoon, and shade during the middle, hottest hours

Areas that are near or under trees and receive dappled shade & indirect sun also qualify. They might not get much direct sun, but the overall feeling of the area is still ‘bright’.

I like to say ‘part sun’ and ‘part shade’ to signify which it gets more of, ie. part sun still gets more sun than shade, but not by much (and vice versa).

Example: There’s a section of my garden that mostly lays in dappled sunlight under some maple trees; some of it gets a couple hours of direct sun in the early afternoon. Calamint, violets, and the aforementioned golden oregano love it here.


Shade can be tricky, as there are varying degrees. The general rule is that it’s an area that gets zero or almost no direct sun for most of the day. Think of the timing for the sun section, in reverse; shade-loving plants especially appreciate protection from the sun in the middle of the day when it’s hottest. Think of this as a nice, cool area where you’d want to sit if you wanted to get out of the sun. Shade can be provided by buildings or other structures as well as trees.

Different trees offer different degrees of shade, and depending on the season this can change! Deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves) might offer zero protection from the sun in the early spring and in the fall, but at these times sunlight and temperatures are less intense; in the summer, they might offer complete protection. Some trees offer more dappled or bright shade (like we discussed earlier), and others are darker. Evergreens can be very challenging to plant under, as their shade is often the darkest around. If a spot is so shady that even grass won’t grow there, most herbs will not fare well.

Another kind of shade is that found indoors. It’s important to remember that glass blocks a large percentage of UV light, and that even if a room feels bright to us, it might not be to a plant. In these cases, a plant that typically prefers shade outside might do best in a sunny window indoors; it might be getting the same amount of actual light, it’s just our perception of it that’s different. Plants in windows also need to be rotated, as the side facing away will start to stretch, reaching for the light.

A lot of the plants that are sold as houseplants actually originate in tropical rainforests; they have adapted to living on the forest floor beneath the shade of many other plants, and some also excel at conserving water.

Most herbs really do not do well indoors, partly because they don’t get enough light, and partly because they become prone to issues like mildew due to a lack of good air circulation.

Example: Our balcony gets shade all day, absolutely no direct sun. We do get some light bounced back off the walls of the building, so for a little while the shade is rather bright. My basil didn’t thrive, but I did have a nice fuchsia basket hanging up last summer.

How to tell if your plant isn’t happy with its current amount of light

Plants that don’t get enough sun will often look pale and leggy; they’ll stretch towards the light that they desperately need. They’ll usually fail to produce flowers as well.

Plants getting too much sun can get burned or scorched leaves (just like you’d get sunburned). They can also become stunted, as the energy they’d typically expend in growing gets used to simply survive.

In short, if your plant looks unhealthy, assess both your watering habits and the light available. (Read up on good watering practices here.)

How light affects watering

As a general rule, plants getting more sun will need more water than those in the shade. The plant might be expending more energy to keep itself from frying, and the sun will also dry out the soil through evaporation. In the shade, the soil won’t dry out as quickly.

Some plants really like to be hot and dry, and have adapted to climates where there is less rainfall and a need to conserve water– think succulents and cacti as an extreme, and in terms of herbs think Mediterranean (lavender, oregano, etc). These might not need as much water as, say, those that normally grow in sunny but damp locations, like irises and cattails. The same can be said of shade plants– some like dry shade, some like damp or wet shade.

Keep an eye on your plants to see what they like best or need most in your garden’s conditions, maybe even do a little research to see where the plant lives in the wild. Be as wary of overwatering as underwatering, as drowning your plant can be as detrimental as letting it shrivel up.


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