THE POTTED GARDEN:
Winter stews and soups taste so much better with fresh herbs, so having them to hand in the garden or on the patio throughout the season is a delight
You can easily grow a selection of evergreen perennial herbs outside in containers during the winter months – so long as they get a bit of sun.
Some herbs such as tarragon and mint die back in winter but the more hardy ones like rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender will look after themselves if placed where they cannot be frozen, saturated by rain or allowed to become too dry.
You can grow herbs in pots together but don’t put herbs that like plenty of water such as chives, mint and coriander with those that like well-drained soil such as rosemary, sage, thyme and bay. It’s also a good idea to choose herbs of a similar size for the same pot. A large rosemary will overshadow a small thyme plant. Both rosemary and bay can grow to a good height and become a feature planting in the garden.
Here are some tips from the Royal Horticultural Society on growing winter herbs:
• Remember that plants grow very little in winter so make sure you start with good-sized plants and use sufficient numbers of plants for the size of container to make an impact from the start.
• Position your container where it will get as much light as possible during the winter months to ensure plant foliage remains green and healthy.
• Water containers carefully in winter, making sure you check the compost regularly as it can soon dry out in mild spells. Smaller plants are more susceptible to over or under watering.
• It is not necessary to feed container plants during the winter.
• Raise containers off the ground on pot feet or bricks to aid drainage and help prevent the freezing conditions that cause pots to crack.
• Choose frost-proof terracotta or containers made of plastic, fibreglass or wood. Bubble wrap containers in severe weather to reduce damage to plant roots.
When it comes to picking your herbs, just remember that the plants won’t be doing much in the way of new growth over the winter months, so you should be careful how much you use – don’t take so much that the plant can’t keep itself alive!