Gardens - Herb Gardening

Housebound herbs

Albert Mondor

Enjoy the flavour of the summer sun in the dead of winter

While harvested mainly in the summer, many herbs can be savoured almost year-round.

With a bit of effort, you can coax some herbs that spent summer outdoors to keep growing all winter long. Simply make sure to cultivate these plants in containers during the summer, then bring them indoors by early fall—before temperatures dip below 5°C. Place them on a sunny south- or west-facing windowsill in a cool room with good air circulation. During the fall and winter months, trim off any dead leaves, water every 10 days and apply a liquid organic fertilizer such as Earth Juice (2-1-1) every month at half-strength; harvest regularly.

Other herbs (listed below) respond well to being grown in the ground, then divided and potted up in autumn and taken indoors.

Pot-grown herbs to invite inside:

  • Lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora)
  • Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
  • Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)*
  • Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • Oregano (O. vulgare)*
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. crispum)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)

* Note: Can also be grown in the ground, to be divided and potted up over winter.

Garden herbs to divide and pot up for fresh winter use:

  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Mint (Mentha spp.)
  • Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
  • Winter savory (Satureja montana)
  • Thyme (Thymus spp.) 


Bringing in-ground herbs indoors

  • In early fall, lift a clump of herbs from your garden using a spade or garden fork.
  • With a sharp spade or knife, divide the clump into smaller sections.
  • Pot up each section in terracotta containers filled with indoor potting soil. (Plastic pots retain too much moisture and allow too little air at the root zone.)
  • Water well and trim back the top growth.
  • Place the plants on a sunny south- or west-facing windowsill.
  • Care for the herbs as you would for potted ones that have been brought indoors.

Read more in Gardens and Herb Gardening

  • Page 1: Housebound herbs

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