Bringing Herb Plants Indoors
Answered by: Yvonne Tremblay
Question from: Rose Fieldings
Posted on: November 18, 2005

I grow (during the summer), sage, rosemary, lavender and lemon thyme. What has been occurring, I will bring the plants inside when the weather changes, and they slowly die. Although, last year, I brought my rosemary in, soon after, it bloomed! When I put it back outside in the nice weather, it dried up and died. The only two I sought to grow this past summer was sage and rosemary. They add such beauty to my balcony, and the fragrance is released when I water. I water nicely, they are in the window where they get sun all day, I also have a plant light I have tried, but to no avail. What am I doing wrong? How do I continue growing them in the winter? Thank you much.

For success when bringing herbs indoors, try to follow this plan:

Herbs that do well indoors include: basil, bay leaf, chives, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and sage.

Re-pot the plants in late summer. Be sure to allow for a transition period. Dig up the plant and place it in a pot with plenty of its own soil and good drainage. Then leave it outside for 2 weeks until it has adjusted to the potting. Gradually bring indoors for increasing lengths of time each day so they can get accustomed to lower levels of light.

Terra cotta pots are the best for drainage and for the roots to get air, however the soil will also dry out more easily, so check to make sure that it isn’t too dry. Water when top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry. Some herbs prefer to be damp and some prefer dryer conditions (see list below). Remember though that herbs do not like wet feet! Make sure there is good drainage (if no drainage hole, provide a pebble bed) and ensure that the soil is not heavy. It can have some sandy loam or lighten with potting soil. Discard excess drained water.

The size of pot you use will limit the size of the herb plant you end up with. Also don’t put a large plant into a small pot. Cut leaves back so the amount of leaves is the same as the amount of roots. Larger pots will result in larger plants with more leaves for harvesting. A 10-inch (25 cm) pot is a good size.

Plant one variety of plant per pot, unless they like the same sun and moisture conditions.

Keep plants away from drafts, such as near a window at night. Move away from window or pull curtain between windows and plant. Give as much full sun as possible during the day. Choose a south or west-facing window that will give at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. It will be difficult for plants to get sufficient light when days are short or overcast. If plants began to look lanky, use grow lights (found in your local nursery).

The temperature should be 72 to 78 F (22 to 25 C) during the day; 65 to 68 F (18 to 20 C) at night.

Mist plants regularly. Relative humidity should be a minimum of 30% (measure with hydrometer near plants). In winter use a room humidifier; kitchen steam from cooking and dishes is sometimes enough. Misting regularly and rinsing weekly under the tap helps to control bugs. Also good are Safer’s Soap and Trounce (contains soap and pyrethrum--made from a plant of the daisy family). Spray plants right after bringing indoors and keep away from other plants for the first few weeks.

Harvest some of the leaves on an on-going basis to promote new growth.

Best of luck!

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