Starting a herb garden in winter may not sound enticing, but winter holds much potential for those with a green thumb. This article reviews what herbs to plant in winter to take full advantage of the cold weather.
When it comes to growing winter herbs, unless you’re fortunate enough to have access to a greenhouse that extends produce growing outside of regular seasons, gardening during colder months may require inventive solutions.
With the option of starting seeds indoors, reframing your garden, or creating cloches to protect your plants outside, forming a herb garden in winter may seem daunting.
Cold-Hardy Herbs to Grow in Winter
Although many cold-hardy herbs grow in winter and still produce excellent flavor, some plants thrive in specific growing zones. Based on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, our article addresses what can be planted in winter and which zones they are best suited to grow in (..).
Note: This article only covers growing zones in the USA.
It’s crucial to know what can be planted in the cold season to give your herbs the best chance during the winter months. Once you’ve decided which fresh herbs you’d like to grow, whether autumn herbs or winter ones, it’s essential to know where and how to grow them outside of a warmer growing season.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Chives make an excellent garnish for meals, and it’s one of the easiest herb plants to grow in winter. Chives have one of the widest ranges in the growth zone map, thriving in zones three to ten.
To start, you’ll need a pot with drainage holes at least six inches wide and just as deep. Follow package instructions for planting.
Once your chives reach four to six inches tall, to transplant them outside, begin hardening the seedlings at least six weeks before the last frost date in your area. To harden your seedlings, leave them outside in indirect sunshine for one hour each day and add one hour until they remain outside for seven hours.
If you have mosquito problems in your area, note that chives are one of the herbs that repel mosquitoes.
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
Easy garden herbs to grow, full of flavor, and winter-hardy up to zone 4, tarragon is one of the more versatile perennial herbs to grow year-round or annually, depending on your climate. To begin growing tarragon, purchase a young plant or obtain a cutting.
Replant them into a 4-inch pot with good drainage, but skip potting soil for a soilless mix. Leave this pot in the shade for two weeks to allow the root hairs to develop. Tarragon can be replanted outside during early spring for better growth and freshness for years to come.
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Not all leafy greens grow well in the window, but the lemony taste of sorrel is perfect for cultivating in a windowsill garden. Best in zones 3-7, sorrels are great seeds to plant in winter by a sunny window, grow well in a 6-inch pot, and do not require much care aside from even watering.
To transplant sorrel into your garden, wait a few weeks before the last frost in spring before planting a root division. Sorrel plants prefer to grow in full sun.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Cilantro belongs to a group of tender perennials, which come from the Mediterranean climate. Grown best in zone 8 and warmer, cilantro needs full sun or light shade in warmer zones to avoid wilting in hot weather.
When to plant herb seeds of the cilantro variety is easy. It can survive in colder climates in temperatures as low as 5–10°F and will overwinter when outside in a cold frame.
As cilantro grows, usually about 6 inches tall, prune stems to encourage new growth. Additionally, larger cilantro leaves tend to be more bitter in flavor, making the herb less flavorful if it grows further.
What Herbs to Plant in Winter
Many other outdoor herbs survive a cold winter through growth indoors or overwintering while planted outside.
Biennial flowers are also excellent seeds to plant in winter because they tolerate the cold weather better than annuals. Choose companion plants for herbs that you like and enjoy all the fruits of your labor when cooking.
Growing Winter Herbs Indoors
To begin your winter garden, start with seeds or seedlings in pots on your windowsill that drain well. If your seeds require sunlight to germinate, ensure your seeds are in a south-facing window with six hours of sunlight per day. Rotate the pots to make sure the stems grow straight.
Outdoor Tips for Herbs to Plant in Winter
Although many herbs are resistant to colder weather, to protect plants outside, create a cloche by cutting a plastic bottle or jug (2-liter bottle or 5-gallon jug) at the bottom and placing it over the plant like a bell.
To stabilize your soil temperature around the time of freezing, apply winter mulch to your garden after the first frost of the season.
Like a greenhouse, cold frames allow you to grow cool-season plants outdoors during winter. Purchase them online or construct your own from wood boards and a recycled window slanted toward the sun.
We hope our tips on what herbs to plant in winter and different methods for growing them help you grow your garden during the winter months.
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