The Q&A Archives: Growing Herbs Indoors

Question: I have brought all my favorite herbs, in pots, indoors and placed them in a southeast window. Namely: chives, parsley, dill, basil, oregano and thyme.

What are the chances of them surviving winter and producing leaves for cooking? Please suggest proper care and if you think any would do better by taking them back outdoors and planting in the ground.

Answer: If you wanted to keep them outdoors in the pots you would need to either sink the pots into the ground or find some method of protecting the roots from severe cold, possibly by piling mulch around them or keeping them in a cold frame. Terra cotta ppots, of course, will often shatter if exposed to freezing temperatures. The plants you have listed are all occasionally grown as window sill herbs but with varying success. They need as much sun as you can provide them and will appreciate an occasional dilute feeding with a water soluble fertilizer. You will probably find that they grow more slowly as the season progresses and that their flavor weakens as well. The basil and dill are both annuals in any case and may not live all that long as a result. Parsley is a biennial meaning it goes to seed the second year, so although it may survive it will probably not do terribly well in the long run either. Chives tolerate the cold weather very well and seem to grow very late and very early outdoors, but they are one of the best for indoors as well. The thyme and oregano are also favorites for indoors. Try it and see what you think!

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