Cool Season Herbs to Grow and Care

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Winter is quickly approaching, so it’s time for you to get out your scarves, boots, socks, and chunky sweaters. Even if we are happy sipping hot cocoa and drinking our morning coffee, we will eventually get cabin fever. We miss our garden. We miss fresh herbs. Fortunately, there are some cool season herbs that will grow without any special care—but they need to be planted early! Before you start your winter gardening adventures, check out my top 10 picks for winter-friendly herbs:

What to Expect with Cool Season Herbs

All of your leafy friends, no matter how hardy, will be resting during the winter months. Do not expect huge returns from a winter herb-growing venture. 

You will need to protect your plants from the winter elements in order to maximize their growth potential. Rosemary, Sage, Sage and Thyme, for example, can survive in very cold temperatures (up to zone 5) by themselves. If you want them to grow, however, you need to protect their roots and leaves from nighttime lows and frost.

Don’t cut into mature perennials. Why? It is here that it stores its energy! It is best to not cut off too much of your plant as it will eventually die. 

How to Protect Your Plants

Frost covers are a must if you plan to overwinter your herbs outside. These are useful even if you live somewhere with a mild climate.

Container gardens are much easier: Simply drag your potted plants to the garage for protection in severe weather. You should protect the roots and foliage of potted plants from the cold by wrapping them in blankets.

Bringing The Cool Season Herbs Indoors

An indoor windowsill garden may be the best way to keep fresh herbs in your kitchen during winter. Most popular herbs come from the Mediterranean and need at least 6 hours of sun each day. Get your sunniest spot ready and keep them away from heat. Don’t overwater.

Cool Season Herbs Harvest

You want your plant to last another day. Do not harvest more than 10% of its leaves or stems in winter. Wait until you see new shoots before you re-harvest. You don’t have to buy plants just to make it through winter. Just take what you need. Your Basil or Cilantro may be gone by spring, but that’s why we’re here!

10 Cool Season Herbs for Winter Harvests

Winter Savory

Winter Savory is easy to grow if you treat it well. It is an evergreen perennial herb, and is part of the Lamiaceae mint family. Winter Savory is also known as creeping, mountain or Spanish savory. It forms mounds with low growth and multi-branched that can reach 8 to 15 inches in height, and a spread of 12 to 24 inches.

The 1-inch glossy leaves are thick, dense, slender and slightly leathery. They also have a high aroma, which appears opposite to the stems. In summer, tiny, delicate flowers are found on terminal spikes in shades of pink, white, and mauve.


Chives can be grown indoors or outdoors and are very easy to care for. They are cold-tolerant perennials, cool-season plants that can be planted early to mid-spring for a summer harvest.

This herb can take over your garden if it is allowed to fully develop (the seeds will be scattered by the flowers). If it invades other areas of your garden, you can easily dig it up and move it.

Chives can also be used as a companion plant to deter pests. You can plant them with tomatoes, carrots, celery and lettuce.


Mint is a perennial herb that has very fragrant, toothed, and small purple, pink, and white flowers. There are many types of mint, all fragrant. You can identify a member from the mint family by its square stem. You’ll smell a pungent aroma when you roll it between your fingers. This can be thought of as candy, sweet teas or mint juleps.

Mints can be used in many ways, including as kitchen companions and ground covers. They are as beautiful and functional as they look. They can thrive in both sun and shade throughout North America. Mint can spread quickly so be careful where it is planted.


You won’t put your Basil outside in a snowstorm, but you can. You need to show your Basil some tender care. These annuals are a great addition to any sunny windowsill garden. Sweet basil is the most popular type of basil. Other types include lemon basil (lemon flavor), purple basil (less sweet than regular basil), and Thai basil.

Basil is very easy to grow. However, it can only be grown outdoors during the summer and only after the soil has warmed up well. You should grow multiple plants if you plan to make pesto. One or two basil plants are sufficient for other purposes.


Tarragon is a perennial that can withstand temperatures up to zone 4. It’s a well-known companion plant so it’s great to have on hand in Spring and Summer. 

Tarragon, a culinary herb, is well-known for its thin leaves and fragrant flavor. The French variety is the most commonly used in cooking. Tarragon is a key ingredient in many French dishes including Bearnaise Sauce. Its delicate flavor matches well with eggs, chicken and fish. It is known as the “king of herbs” in France because it elevates a dish.

Tarragon is a perennial. This means that once it has been planted, it will continue to grow every year. It’s part of the Artemesia family, which also includes other licorice-tasting herbs like the one used to make the French aperitif . The stems are strong and woody and the leaves are long, thin and have pointed ends.


This perennial can be grown outdoors in zone 5. The perennial’s beautiful appearance and delicious recipes make it a great choice for your garden.

Sage is a hardy perennial that produces beautiful, grayish-green leaves. They look equally good in a perennial garden as in a vegetable bed. It produces spikes of spring flowers that come in a variety of colors including pink, blue, and white.


The tart, sweet, and exuberant Sorrel is the best. It can be grown in zones 5 through 6. It can be kept indoors in a sunny location or supplemented by a grow light. Harvesting is possible once the leaves reach 4 inches in length. 

Although sorrel is one of the common cool season herbs, it has not been popular in the United States. Sorrel herb plants can be used to enhance a dish and lift it to new heights. There are many uses for sorrel plants in the kitchen. The herb can be used fresh or cooked, and it has a bright, lemony taste.


Rosemary can be grown as a perennial in zones 5 and 6. You can reward your mature outdoor rosemary with cool weather growth if you give it the proper protection. It’s best that you get a Rosemary plant for your kitchen windowsill, to satisfy your wintertime cravings.

Rosemary is a Mediterranean Sea native, and thrives in areas that have fair humidity. It can even grow to several feet tall in these warm regions. If not properly managed, rosemary can grow so vigorously in ideal circumstances that it can become quite a nuisance.


Parsley can thrive on any windowsill that gets enough light. You can harvest your Parsley inside until it is bald, and then replace it in Spring. It is a popular herb that can be used in soups, sauces, and salads. Parsley is not only a great garnish, but it’s also good to eat because it’s high in iron and vitamins C.

However, it is most commonly grown annually in home gardens. The leaves can become bitter and hard after the first year. However, they will happily reseed themselves in warmer zones.


Cilantro, an annual herb that is fast-growing and aromatic, thrives in cooler temperatures, such as spring and autumn. This is how to grow cilantro and coriander in your garden. You can harvest sparingly to allow your plant to recover, or you can go big and make guacamole! Cilantro doesn’t last very long, so get to work!

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.