Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you have to do without the flavor of fresh, homegrown herbs. Most common cooking herbs can be easily and effectively kept indoors, where they can be harvested and enjoyed all winter long. Chives, garlic chives, thyme, mint, winter savory, and lavender are among those that are especially suited to indoor conditions.
Plan to transplant your outdoor herbs a few weeks before the first frost. Begin by gently digging your herbs out of the soil, taking care to cause as little root damage as possible. Selecting only the healthiest looking plants; stems that are sickly, stunted, or nearing the end of their life cycle will not transplant well.
Repot the herbs up in a mixture of equal parts fresh, high quality commercial potting soil, sand, and peat moss. Herbs need a soil mix that drains well and is rich in nutrients. Immediately water them, fully saturating the soil.
Before moving your plants inside, be sure to carefully inspect the stems and leaves, especially the undersides, for insects and other pests. Isolate your herbs in a separate room from other houseplants for at least couple of weeks, to prevent cross-infestation from overlooked bugs.
Because abrupt changes in environment can shock plants, it’s important to make their transition indoors a gradual one. Begin by leaving the potted herbs outdoors, but moving them out of direct sunlight for about a week. After that, bring the plants inside for only a few hours each day for another week or so, before bringing them indoors for good.
Remember that most herbs need a total of 14 to 16 hours of light each day, including at least six hours of direct sunlight. It may be necessary to supplement daylight with flourescent lighting during the short days of winter and late fall.
Watering and feeding needs vary from plant to plant. Read the instructions on your seed packet or check with your local nursery.