By Mara Higdon
Fresh herbs are essential to any gardener’s kitchen. September is the best time to divide and pot up your herbs in the garden. This gives the plants a few months of warmth to become established before the cold and shorter daylight season arrives. Once potted, leave them in a protected outdoor location till they get a chance to get used to their new home. Make sure they don’t cook in the sun and water well. Once the days get cooler, relocate them to your brightest windowsill for fall and winter use. A few you can try are chives, lemon verbena, lemongrass, marjoram, thyme, bay laurel, and tender lavenders.
To transplant, use a potting soil that provides good drainage. Water them in well once you have transplanted the herb. Once you bring them into the house let them dry out slightly between waterings. Herbs tend to dislike wet roots so don’t use saucers under the pots. During the winter, potted herbs direct all their energy toward growing their root system. So, they may not look as lush as they did throughout the growing season. Some herbs such as lemon verbena may even lose their leaves, but new growth will appear late winter to early spring. Don’t give up on them!
The best indoor location for your potted herbs is a bright, somewhat warm room. Usually the kitchen or a south-facing bathroom works well since they receive some humidity. If your chosen location does not provide much humidity, mist the plants once a week or so.
If sufficient warmth and light are a problem, you can also place your indoor herbs under a fluorescent light for up to six hours a day.
Mara Higdon is the Program Director at Gateway Greening. They focus on community development throughout the St Louis area.