QUESTION: We love fresh herbs and grew basil, rosemary, parsley and sage in the garden this summer. Can we dig them up and bring them inside to grow all winter?
With the right conditions and consistent care, it’s certainly possible to bring herbs inside and keep them through the winter. Some fare better indoors than others. Here are details for bringing your favorite herbs indoors:
Basil: An easy way to keep basil for growing indoors is to root cuttings now and plant them in pots later. The Herb Society of America suggests cutting 4-inch portions of stems before they flower, remove the bottom leaves, and place the stems in a small container of water. Place it on a windowsill and change the water every day. After roots form, plant the cuttings in a clean, well-drained pot in good potting mix. To grow successfully indoors, basil needs strong light (this usually means a south or west window, or grow it under artificial light). Keep the soil evenly moist and provide fertilizer about once a month.
Rosemary: This is a plant that may be happier outdoors all winter than in the dry air of a heated house. If you’ve planted one of the more hardy varieties, it should survive the winter outdoors, especially if it’s in a protected location in the garden. But rosemary can also be rooted in water or in moist potting soil, planted in potting mix and place in a sunny location indoors. Mist it frequently to keep the air moist, or set the pot on a layer of stones in a tray of water.
Parsley: This is an herb that may be easier to grow indoors from seed. Parsley is a biennial that grows a long tap root, which makes it more difficult to dig up and repot. Soak the seeds in warm water overnight, and sprinkle them onto good potting mix in pots that drain well. Cover the seeds with about ¼ inch of potting mix and keep the soil evenly moist. Place the pot in a bright (south-facing) window or under fluorescent lights. Parsley seeds are slow to germinate, so be patient. Plants grown indoors may be more spindly, due to lower light levels, but the flavor is just a good.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
Sept. 17 – Perennial Plant Society meets at Cheekwood in Botanic Hall, speaker is landscape designer Marty DeHart on “Problem Area Perennials.” Refreshments at 6:30, meeting at 7, open to the public.
Sept. 21 – Oct. 31: Cheekwood Harvest Fall Festival includes scarecrows along the garden paths, a pumpkin patch, guided garden tours and nearly 5,000 autumn-hued chrysanthemums in the Robertson Ellis Color Garden, planted specifically for Cheekwood Harvest. The full schedule is at www.cheekwood.org
Sept. 21 and 22: The Tennessee Gesneriad Society annual show and sale at Cheekwood in Botanic Hall. There will be many rare and unusual plants on display as well as for sale. Hours on Saturday September 21 are 9:30a.m.-4:30p.m., and on Sunday September 22 are 11:00a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more info, call Julie at 615-364-8459.
Sept. 26: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society meets at Cheekwood in the Potter Room; speaker is David Bates of Bates Nursery on shrubs that tolerate shade for use in hosta gardens. The meeting is at 6:30 and is open to the public.
Sept. 28: Welcoming Fall Wildflower Hike at Shelby Bottoms NatureCenter. A short naturalist-led hike for all ages, 10 – 11 a.m. Call (862-8539) or email (email@example.com) to register.
At Warner Park Nature Center, Deb Beazley leads adults on a stroll through a meadow to enjoy the fall wildflowers, 9 – 11 a.m. Call 352-6299 to register.