5 Tips to Keep Your Herbs Fresh in the Winter

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Real Men Sow

I sit writing this at 7:30 pm, and it’s dark outside. The weather is chillier and wetter. I think the proper term is ‘distinctly autumnal’. The time is coming when we tidy up and think about winter, and keeping herbs fresh for the cold season

One of my favourite pre-winter jobs is sorting out my herbs in my herb garden – or ‘winterizing’ them as I like to call it when I’m feeling particularly geeky. Here are some things that I do during September and October to protect and preserve my herbs, as well as extend the growing season.

5 Steps To Keep Herbs Fresh

  1. Dry and Freeze the Herb Leaves
  2. Get a Horticultural Fleece
  3. Cut the Herbs Correctly 
  4. Divide Herb Plants
  5. Plant in Containers

How To Keep Your Herbs Fresh

Dry and Freeze Herb Leaves and Sprigs

f you get a few warm days, hang individual sprigs out in the sun until the leaves are crinkly. I use my washing line, but anywhere warm and dry will do. Store the dried out herbs in airtight containers.

Leafy herbs such as mint can be frozen in some water as ice cubes. Perfect for winter cooking, or a Pimms in front of the fire…

Get a Horticultural Fleece

I’m lucky to live in a mild area of the UK, where many of my established herbs such as sage, marjoram, and thyme generally tend to survive the Winter. However, but I do cover plants in fleece during very cold weather, and depending on your average temperatures you might want to semi-permanently drop some fleece overexposed plants.

The fleece will raise the temperature a degree or so to not only protect the plant but keep the supply going for a little longer.

Cut Your Herbs to Prevent More Growth

This is one of my favourite herby jobs and reminds me of some excellent advice I picked up from an old book: ‘remember, during Winter you’re keeping the herbs alive, not encouraging them to grow.

A good weed never hurt any plant, and this is certainly the case with herbs. Whilst I’m weeding, I’ll also cut any dead wood branches and snip off dead flower heads to encourage bushy growth.

Once the plants have been tidied up, I like to mulch around the base too.

Sage, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme all benefit from some tender loving care like this.

Divide the Herb Plants

I like to divide large plants such as chives, mint, oregano, lemon balm, sage, and marjoram into smaller clumps in Autumn as this helps stop them from getting too big and bidding for herb bed domination.

I’ve found you can be pretty rough with this, and in fact, a good division invigorates a plant no end. You can replant a clump and sell the rest outside your house to help pay for next year’s seeds.

Now is also a useful time to take cuttings of rosemary, lavender, and thyme. Put the cuttings in a pot of multipurpose compost and cover with a clear plastic bag to keep in the warmth and moisture. Some people use rooting powder when planting cuttings, but I’ve not found this necessary if the compost is of good quality (mixing some of your own it is always advantageous). Transfer to the greenhouse until the weather gets really cold and then rehome the cuttings on a bright windowsill.

Consider Planting Your Herbs in Containers

Next Spring, when your cuttings and clumps have rooted, consider putting spare ones in pots rather than the ground. Many herbs, such as chives and mint will survive quite contently in a greenhouse, so once the weather turns you can shift them inside and extend the harvesting season well into winter.

Although parsley is only an annual, it is also fairly hardy, so try and pot sowing in summer with a view to moving undercover in Autumn.

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.

4 thoughts on “5 Tips to Keep Your Herbs Fresh in the Winter”

  1. Good sound advice – I am already getting out of gardening mode but realise there are still loads of jobs that need to be done – will have to chivvy myself up and get cracking.

  2. Completely forgot about the splitting of the herbs into more pots – thanks for the reminder. BTW, what do you think is better for taste: herbs in water or olive oil before freezing?

    I was going to go the oil way just so I can throw a herb cube into the pot when cooking.

  3. Me too Elaine. just been standing out there looking at everything that needs doing. There’s a lot of tidying up to be done for starters!

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