Homegrown herbs are wonderful to have on hand for culinary purposes, natural beauty recipes, and for their natural healing properties.
Just because the cold season is beginning does not mean that you have to say goodbye to your herb garden. Many herbs can overwinter outdoors if cared for properly.
Some hardy herbs do well outdoors in all seasons. For these plants, you can leave them outdoors and trust that they will be back once the snow thaws if you take care of them.
Winter Hardy Herbs in our Hardiness Zone 5 Garden
- Anise hyssop
- Bee balm
- French tarragon
- Garlic chives
- Lemon balm
- Mint hybrids (apple mint, chocolate mint, etc.)
How to Prepare Outdoor Herbs to Survive the Winter
Start by removing any weeds growing up around the base of your herbs, so that they are not choked when they begin to grow again in the spring.
Oregano, rosemary, lemon verbena, thyme, and sage can all overwinter outdoors and will benefit from a good prune in the fall. Trim away the uppermost leaves and any dead flower heads, and prune back all dead wood on the plant.
All herbs will benefit from a two-to-four-inch layer of mulch to prevent the ground from freezing and to shield them from the harsh winter cold. Some herbs will need extra coverage in the form of a burlap wrap, cardboard box, or horticultural fleece over them to keep them insulated.
Herbs that Need to be Moved Inside for Winter
These herbs will likely not survive the harsh outdoor conditions.
- John’s Wort
Both annual and perennial herbs can be planted in containers and brought inside before the first hard frost of the season.
Parsley can be difficult to dig up, as it has long roots that are easily disturbed. Dig deep beneath the plant and pot it in a container with a lot of depth, about ten inches.
Mint, thyme, and Oregano are easy to dig out of the ground and take well to growing indoors.
Rosemary can thrive indoors, but it can also be difficult. Your best bet is to place it in a window where it will be cool and get a lot of natural light. For more on this herb, keep an eye out for our upcoming Guide to Rosemary which will be posted soon.
Before bringing any herbs indoors, be sure to check them carefully for pests and pest damage. If you see any, spray the plants with a bit of soap mixed with water to get rid of unwelcome creepy crawlies.