Most of us associate fresh herbs with the summer, but you can grow many of these fragrant culinary plants in containers through winter. While some herbs will require...
Most of us associate fresh herbs with the summer, but you can grow many of these fragrant culinary plants in containers through winter.
While some herbs will require warmth and shelter indoors, others will tough it out until the coldest freeze. Here’s a list of what can survive and things you can do to increase the odds:
The following herbs can be kept outdoors in containers until heavy frost, when temperatures dip below 32 degrees. If you leave plants outdoors, be sure to remove saucers from their containers. Standing water in saucers can contribute to root rot.
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Bay trees: The culinary bay, often grown in topiary shapes, can survive normal winter temperatures in Western Washington. Leave it in a sunny, protected spot. Bring it indoors when temperatures drop into the 30s. You can continue to pick flavorful leaves for fall stews and soups even when growth stops.
Rosemary: This evergreen can become a large shrub that’s able to survive light freezes. For containers, the cultivar ‘Arp‘ has extra hardiness. A sunny sheltered porch or deck would be ideal for best growth. Don’t let it become waterlogged.
Parsley: In the open garden, this useful herb will generally overwinter to come back in spring, but production slows through the darkest months.
Don’t let parsley plants in containers go dry. Unlike many “Mediterranean” herbs, they need ample moisture. If a spike of flowers comes up, cut it off.
To grow herbs indoors, you’ll need a sunny window or an artificial light setup (use fluorescent tubes).
Chives, parsley, mint and oregano should be brought inside and placed under lights in October. Here are more plants that can do well indoors:
Basil: Temperatures dropping into the 50s or below at night, such as we’ve had recently, give basil the shivers. Growth stops. Bring pots indoors now, placing under lights. Dark winter days will halt basil even if it’s indoors: this one wants tropical light and warmth.
Lemon verbena: This fragrant tea herb loves warmth. It makes a good houseplant until mid-winter, when leaves may drop. Don’t worry about this; spring light will revive it.
Garden expert Mary Robson, retired area horticulture agent for Washington State University/King County Cooperative Extension, appears regularly in digs and in Practical Gardener in Northwest Life on Wednesdays. Her e-mail is email@example.com.