Herbs For A Winter Lift
Does the cilantro go limp before you use it? Is the basil brown when you remember to reach for it? Does your store tend to not have chives when you need them? Remedy these issues AND cheer up your indoor space by growing a few pots of herbs in a sunny window. Read this article to learn more about which herbs will grow best inside your house this winter.
Sally McNamara, Dakota County Master Gardener
Does the cilantro go limp before you use it? Is the basil brown when you remember to reach for it? Does your store tend to not have chives when you need them? Remedy these issues AND cheer up your indoor space by growing a few pots of herbs in a sunny window. West or east facing are best. One can use grow lights but herbs can be happy with good light from windows.
Which herbs could you grow?
Aloe does not usually show up on an indoor herb list but it is super easy to grow, and share, and is really handy in the case of a kitchen burn. Slice a spear and spread the goo on the burn. Aloe reproduces readily and either needs to be shared or thinned or your kitchen will be full of aloe plants. Aloe can be planted in cactus mix soil.
Basil is easy to find as a potted plant but is not long lasting. It is nice to have fresh basil leaves exactly when you need them but it might be challenging to grow enough for a good pesto in a window pot. Be generous in using it and replace it when it gets spindly.
Chives take a while to fill a pot if planted from seed but are handy to have on hand. Cut them and they will regrow from the roots. One option is to pot up a piece of an outdoor bunch in fall to have on hand over the winter.
Cilantro is a good choice if enough is grown to really be useful. A few sprigs usually is not what the recipe wants. Cilantro, like basil has a short life span so starting pots in a sequence will give a more continuous supply. Good draining and adequate water are important for success with cilantro.
Sage, thyme and oregano all do well indoors. Drainage is important. Cutting the plants to use them encourages more growth.
Lemon balm is not as useful in meal cooking as the herbs above but it is an easy to grow, very fragrant and attractive plant which goes into desserts and drinks and is a stress reliever. Snip and bruise some leaves for a quick lift of the spirits. It might want a little more space than some others.
Rosemary might be one of the most useful and attractive herbs to grow because it doesn’t take many leaves to enhance a recipe but it can be fussy indoors. Good drainage, good light and letting the soil dry between waterings are important. This is a prime candidate for overwintering as it grows bigger each season; it is a shrub not an annual plant. Often an overwintered rosemary blooms with blue flowers inside in winter. Check for insects when bringing it in the fall. Warning: overwintering rosemary is a competitive sport to some of us.
Indoor plants are mood enhancing generally but even more so when they are useful and decorative. The worst that can happen is learning how NOT to care for your herbs. We all grow by trying with some success and some failure.
Photo Credit: www.pickpik.com (All Creative Commons) (1), en.wikipedia.org (All Creative Commons) (2), Whitwam Organics (3), The Growers Exchange (4), www.publicdomainpictures.net (5), kathleenkirkpoetry.blogspot.com (6), commons.wikimedia.org (7)