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overwintering herbs indoors: care guide

by dig the dirt editor

As fall days wane into winter’s frosty prelude, saying farewell to summer’s garden pleasures is hardest in the herb patch. If the thought of months without garden-fresh flavors like basil, rosemary, and thyme is more than you can bear, take heart. Herbs take happily to the indoors and will reward you with leaves to snip and stew all winter long.




herbs | general care | drying herbs for cooking |

annual herbs | perennial herbs | tender perrenial herbs




The best way to overwinter herbs indoors is to plant them in the spring in 8"-10" pots and grow them all summer in those pots. The pots can be buried up to the rim in the garden or simply placed on the porch or patio. Natural porous clay pots are recommended.


If you decide that you want to bring a plant inside that has been growing in the garden all summer, the first step is to prune back much of the summer's growth. Well before the first frost, dig up the plant carefully, leaving plenty of earth on the roots. Place rootball in sufficiently large pot to easily accommodate the roots and back fill with good quality commercial potting soil. Water well and gradually acclimate to new light conditions. Move from full sun to part shade to almost full shade over several weeks. Appropriate winter care includes providing as much light as you can, even moisture, and reasonable temperatures.



Most herbs require 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, or 10-12 hours of closely positioned grow lights, each day to thrive. South, east or west windows without curtains should suffice for most. If your plants get leggy, they should be moved to stronger light and rotated a quarter turn every week to provide equal exposure for all the leaves. Regular pinching of growing tips encourages bushier growth. The 65-70° winter temperature of most North American homes will be fine in most cases, but beware of either hot or cold drafts, and of placing plants too near radiators or hot air outlets. Most plants that die indoors do so because they got too hot or too dry. To increase the humidity in the immediate vicinity of the plant, place the pot on a tray of pebbles which should be filled with water daily.


Herbs, overwintering, indoor plant, care guide