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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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Grow favorite herbs indoors

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?

You can bring basil indoors to grow during winter.

You can bring basil indoors to grow during 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.

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One Response

  1. Variegated Flowering Maple overwintered last yearOkay, so you’ve decided to overwinter, and maybe even propagate some of your tender plants inside. You’ve found a good spot to keep your plants, and have a good source of natural or artificial light. You’ve decided which plants to bring in, and have the supplies you need on hand which may include a quality potting mix, water-tight saucers or trays, nursery pots in various sizes (or more decorative containers if you prefer,) safe insect controls, sharp pruners, Ziploc bags (or more economical generic zip-type bags,) maybe some rooting hormone, and a watering can or hose*. If you don’t have nursery pots, clean deli, yogurt, cottage cheese, or other plastic containers will work just fine as long as you make some drain holes in the bottoms. Save the lids and they can be used as saucers! Persian Shield, overwintered last yearIndividual specimens can be brought inside in the same container they were in while outside. With mixed containers, you’ll need to decide whether to bring in the whole thing, or just select individual plants. You could also opt to take only cuttings of certain plants rather than bringing the entire plant indoors. Coleus and Iresine are good candidates and examples. If you opt to break down the container and bring in only certain plants, and cuttings of others, this is where the extra nursery pots or other containers come in, and they can also be used for propagating later, after your plants are already inside. If you’re transferring a plant into a new pot, be sure to choose one that allows room for some root growth while not being too big. An extra inch or two larger than the root ball is probably about right. Too small and the plant will get rootbound, too large and it may rot.

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