Overwintering Herbs – Growing Herbs Indoors in Winter

Last Updated on March 15, 2022 by Admin

When winter comes around, it is important to protect your herb garden from the cold, freezing conditions. Here’s how to overwinter herbs and grow them indoors so that they survive the season.


Winterizing – How Do You Protect Your Herbs in the Winter?

Like most plants, herbs don’t like the winter. This means that if you experience cold winters and your herb garden is outdoors, you’ll need to either:

  • Protect them from the cold
  • Grow them in pots so they’re easy to bring indoors
  • Bring them somewhere warmer

Of course, the latter is easier if your herbs are grown in containers. Otherwise, you’ll need to dig them up and move them into containers before bringing them inside.

As always make sure the debug before doing so.

Come springtime, you can bring them back out into the yard to be replanted.

If you have a lot of them, it might be prudent to plan ahead of time. Doing this year in and year out for a bunch of plants takes a lot of time and effort.


Herbs That Survive the Winter (& Those That Don’t)

Like most plants, some herbs are better at adapting to severe temperature drops. Most don’t like it. And some are very sensitive to it.


Herbs Sensitive to Cold Temperatures

These aren’t too winter hardy.

  • Ginger
  • Aloe
  • Bay
  • Rosemary
  • lemon verbana
  • scented geraniums
  • Sweet majorjams
  • French lavender

As such, your best bet is to bring them indoors.

That said, you can likewise take more extreme measures to protect them through the cold months.

However, a better way is to choose the right, herbs beforehand.

This way, you don’t have to worry about bringing them indoors when the temperature drops. All you need it to provide them with enough protection to get them through the winter.


Herbs That Survive Winter (Winter Hardy Herbs)

Here’s a list of herbs that can withstand cold weather. During the winter months, they’ll go dormant before coming back to life when spring arrives.

While they’re fairly winter hardy, you’ll still need to protect them from the freezing temperature. You can do so by following the steps below.

  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Thyme
  • Fennel
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Lavender
  • Catnip
  • Sorrel
  • Caraway
  • Parsley
  • Lemon balm
  • Tarragon
  • Horseradish
  • Herbs
  • Valerian
  • Thyme




Protecting Your Herbs from Freezing Temperatures

The more severe the drop in temperature, the worse off your herbs are. That’s because in general, herbs have shallow root systems. Thus, they’re easily damaged by frost.

For this reason, it’s important to protect their roots from the cold.

Here’s how.


Using Mulch for Insulation

The simplest and most common way to protect your herbs from the cold temperatures is to cover them with mulch.

Mulch does a few things.

  • It keeps temperatures uniform around the roots of the herbs
  • Reduces or prevents heaving. Heaving or frost heaving occurs temperature fluctuations cause the surface to cycle between freezing and thawing. This causes the soil to expand and contract slowly pushing plants out of the ground.
  • It helps retain moisture
  • Protection against dry winds

Depending on how winter hardy each herb is, it may need more or less coverage.

In general, 3-6 inches of mulch works well. For most, 4 inches is enough.

But, timing is key as well.

Adding that much mulch before the frost comes makes plants adapt to warmer conditions. As such, when the actual cold comes, they’re more susceptible to it.

So, it’s a good idea to wait until the ground freezes before getting to work. You’ll then leave the mulch on all through winter, removing it only when spring arrives.


Don’t Fertilize

Another important thing to remember is not to fertilize your herbs when winter is just around the corner.

Adding fertilizer puts your plants in an active growth stage. In contrast, you want them to slow down during the colder months.


Light Pruning Only

Pruning also encourages growth. Thus, avoid doing so as the winter months arrive.

Similarly, pruning is technically wounding the plants. As such, it’s not a good idea to make them vulnerable when the freezing temperatures are coming (4-6 weeks before).


Water Beforehand

Water your plants during the fall so they get enough moisture. Sufficient watering helps your herbs be more winter hardy.


Ensure Good Soil Drainage

Too much water or moisture in the soil depletes a plant’s winter hardiness. Considering that herbs already don’t like wet environments this makes it more difficult for them to survive through the winter.

Thus, it’s important to provide ample drainage.