Winter-hardy herbs ideally supply the local kitchen all year round. Some are hardy but move in winter.
For many people, garden herbs are part of basic planting. The most popular use is of course as a spice plant to round off a wide variety of dishes. However, many of the well-known herbal plants also have a healing effect against various ailments. Often, however, the origin of the flavor and salvation charms lies in warm, distant, or Mediterranean regions. So it is not surprising that some herbs cannot cope with the cold winters that prevail here and are therefore wiped out prematurely. We will introduce you to various herbs that are bursting with aromas and, due to their winter hardiness, are also suitable for the garden all year round.
Hardy herbs: These herbs can be harvested in winter
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Some of the popular herbal plants are shrubs or subshrubs. Therefore, even in the winter months, these have partly aromatic leaves or fruit bunches, which you can use. For example, you can pluck individual leaves all winter long to use them in the kitchen. However, you should not cut back the herbs radically in winter, because the plants would not survive this after severe frosts. In the following, we have compiled for you particularly resistant and tasty herbs that can also be harvested in winter.
1. Thyme ( thymus )
The thyme originally comes from the warm Mediterranean region. Many varieties also thrive very well in our latitudes and even survive the cold winters outdoors. The ‘scented pillow’ variety ( Thymus x cheriloides ) is particularly nice to look at. The light pink flowers only appear from July to August, but the aromatic leaves can also be harvested during the cold season.
2. Sage ( Salvia officinalis )
The leaves of the real sage are not only used to refine dishes, but also make a wonderful cough tea when poured over hot water. If you want to be prepared for the cold season, you should definitely cultivate sage on the windowsill. Most varieties – such as ‘Aurea’ – can easily overwinter in the garden bed. Tropical sage species such as the honeydew melon sage ( Salvia elegans ), however, cannot tolerate frost.
3. Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis )
How rosemary survives the winter in our gardens depends primarily on the variety. For example, the ‘Veitshöchheimer Rosmarin’ or the ‘Blue Winter’ variety are hardy. Winter-proof rosemary, on the other hand, should only be planted outdoors in milder regions. If the Mediterranean plant is to be used increasingly as a culinary herb, a pot culture on the windowsill is best, because the rosemary feels most comfortable in the warm.
4. Lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia )
The fragrant real lavender is one of the most robust types of lavender. In its original home in the Mediterranean area, it can also be found at higher altitudes and can withstand temperatures as low as -15 ° C for a short time. Wintering in a protected location and additional care measures may, as with many other Mediterranean herbs, still be necessary so that the plant survives the winter unscathed. If you are looking for a special eye-catcher, you might find the white flowering lavender ‘Arctic Snow’ a delight.
You might be interested in Russian Sage versus Lavender
5.Mountain savory ( Satureja montana )
Compared to the annual summer savory ( Satureja hortensis ), the mountain savory can withstand cold temperatures without any problems. The slightly hot, peppery aroma goes perfectly with warming vegetable stews and is therefore particularly useful in the kitchen during the cold season.
6. Dost ( Origanum vulgare )
The dost, also known as oregano, grows as a perennial in contrast to the closely related marjoram (Origanum majorana). In rough areas, however, it may sometimes be necessary to spend the winter in the house to get him through the cold season. ‘Thumbles’ is one of the more robust varieties. The violet flowering thyme with yellow-green foliage looks particularly good in the garden in combination with red-leaved plants.
7. Curry herb ( Helichrysum italicum )
Compared to other Mediterranean herbs, the curry herb is also relatively robust and hardy. If you want to be on the safe side, you can still bring the herb inside over the winter. It is also known as Immortelle and, as the name suggests, is characterized by its curry aroma. Therefore it can be used wonderfully in the kitchen to refine rice and meat dishes.
Hardy herbs: herbs that move in without winter harvest
Some herbs move in winter and do not leave any above-ground parts of plants behind during the cold season that could still be used. Unfortunately, this means that these herbs cannot be harvested all year round. It is, therefore, best to stock up on sufficient supplies during the warmer months of the year. Below we introduce you to some of these hardy herbs that can only be harvested during the growing season.
1. Chives ( Allium schoenoprasum )
Chives also get along very well at low temperatures. Due to the high water requirement, you should make sure that the popular herb does not dry out in the winter months, especially in pots. You should therefore only water on frost-free days so that the plant is not damaged. After pruning in autumn, the chives sprout again in spring.
2. Wild garlic ( Allium ursinum )
Wild garlic is a typical early bloomer with a short growing season. The green leaves with the garlic-like aroma can be harvested from April to May. The perennial plant spends the winter as an onion in the ground.
3. Tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus )
Depending on the variety, tarragon has a certain degree of winter hardiness. The Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. Indora) can bristle with temperatures down to -10 ° C. In contrast, the French tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus var. Sativa ) is more sensitive to frost. It is best to use the young shoots and leaves for seasoning.
4.Lovage ( Levisticum officinale )
Lovage can even withstand low temperatures down to -20 ° C undamaged. Special winter protection measures are therefore usually not necessary. On frost-free days, however, it should also be watered regularly in the cold season. If the so-called Maggi herb has survived the winter well, the fresh leaves can be harvested again from May.
5. Mint ( Mentha )
It should be made clear from the outset that not all mints are frost-hardy. Still, some species can cope well with cold temperatures. This includes, for example, the popular peppermint ( Mentha x Piperita ). A specialty is the ‘Chocolate’ variety with its light taste of chocolate. The subterranean rhizomes of the mint remain in the ground over winter and sprout again in spring. Learn how to trim mint here.
6. Real woodruff ( Galium odoratum )
The real woodruff is basically perennial and hardy both in nature and in the garden. However, a cover made of leaves or fir green can still offer suitable protection over the cold months. In pot culture, it may also be necessary to move to the greenhouse or cellar so that the roots are not damaged. Harvest time is then again from mid-April to mid-May.
7. Lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis )
In the bed, even low temperatures of down to -20 ° C cannot harm the roots of lemon balm. In the pot, however, there is a risk of the roots freezing through, which is why you should take suitable protective measures. Older perennials can be cut back close to the ground in autumn to encourage new growth in spring.
8. Real arnica ( Arnica montana )
The real arnica is originally an alpine plant and therefore copes very well with rough conditions. It has always been used in folk medicine for skin diseases, for example. In Germany, however, the species is considered endangered in nature. This is why arnica is being grown more and more often in one’s own gardens for use as a medicinal plant.
9. Valerian ( Valeriana officinalis )
The valerian is a hardy perennial, which is also often found in nature on the banks of rivers and streams. It is one of the oldest medicinal plants and is best known for its calming and sleep-promoting effects. However, only the roots that are dug up, cleaned, and dried in autumn are used.
10. Nettle ( Urtica dioica )
Unfortunately, the nettle does not have a particularly good reputation due to its stinging hair. However, the supposed weeds are used as culinary herbs and medicinal plants. Whether as spinach, soup, or tea – the plant can be used in many ways in the kitchen. Due to its high frost tolerance, it does not require any special protective measures in winter.
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