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Herbs indoors losing vigor

CrankyYankeeCrankyYankee New England, USAPosts: 131
I moved my favorite herbs indoors for the winter about a month ago and already they are looking awful.  They were in pots outdoors and I didn't transplant before bringing them in.  I have oregano in one pot,  basil/parsley in another pot, lavender/sage/oregano in another pot, and sage/rosemary in the last pot.  My house is already dry from running the heat, so they seem constantly bone dry.  I water every other day and feed rarely. They're under a grow light that runs from 6am to 8pm.  Would they benefit from being tented to add humidity to their environment?  I have a small indoor greenhouse I could set up but I'm not sure if that's the answer.



  • didywdidyw East SuffolkPosts: 2,558
    I'm no help - I just can't grow herbs indoors.  I try every year with basil but it soon succumbs to whitefly and other sticky horridness.  The dryer herbs (oregano, rosemary etc) shouldn't need any more humidity.  I keep mine in troughs outside the back door and can still pick from them all year round. Because that is south facing it doesn't get toooo cold, but even with a bit of frost they are OK.  But obviously they are more abundant in the summer months.  Maybe yours just need a bit of a rest, rather than being forced to keep going?
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,023
    edited December 2022
    I don't know what your climate is like but all of the ones you mention but basil survive outside in the winter here.   I had a prostratus rosemary die on me but the ordinary one is hardy  
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,303
    The problem will be mainly lack of light.  The grow-light might not be enough.

    Each plant will have its own individual requirements.  My recommendation, possibly not welcome, is: don't even try.  My advice, probably not welcome, is: don't even try.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • CrankyYankeeCrankyYankee New England, USAPosts: 131
    I'm in zone 5, and when I look at a zone map for the UK, most of it is 8 or 9.  My zone is -20 to -10 F (-29 to -23 C), so most herbs don't survive outside here.  Creeping thyme and most of the mint family will, so I leave them in the gardens.
    Maybe if I cut back the sad looking herbs it will rejuvenate them? 
  • CrankyYankeeCrankyYankee New England, USAPosts: 131
    Lack of light would make sense, too. :(  Even though they're in front of a window and have the grow light, it doesn't replicate the long, sunny days of summer when they look their best.
  •  Lavender, sage, Rosemary and Parsley are hardy enough outside in most of the UK.  Basil is rarely worth trying to keep going all year - harvesting and preserving in several ways before the cold weather starts is best and then start again next year.
    New England is a different matter so much depends on  how you have dealt with these plants in previous years ?  Perhaps a local based site may be helpful ?
    I would certainly agree that adding humidity isn't a good idea :)
  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 666
    For what it's worth, I've always thought of/treated culinary basil as an annual - never lasts more than a few months for me (indoors or out). 
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • CrankyYankeeCrankyYankee New England, USAPosts: 131
    Well, shoot.  I can grow all this stuff outdoors, but have to treat them as annuals.  One of the sage plants, the lavender, basil, and both oregano plants are all 2-3 years old.  I've been overwintering them, but they hang on by the slightest thread indoors and I was hoping to help them out a little better this year.  I'll keep doing what I've been doing, I guess. :)
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,321
    I grow a lot of herbs outdoors. The ones that keep growing through the winter, like rosemary and sage, all lose potency even though they don't lose their leaves. I assume the essential oils are not produced when the plants are cold and/or in low light - they are all much more aromatic when the sun is on them. I'd do as you are, keep them alive over winter but don't ask too much of them - let them rest in their different ways and don't try to 'force' them.

    I usually harvest a good crop in summer shortly before they start to flower, on a warm, dry morning and preserve them (generally by drying, apart from mint which I turn into mint sauce and/or jelly) to get me through the winter months. They regrow fast at that time of year and I have more than one of most types so giving one plant a really hard cut back is not a problem.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,965
    I only have basil outside in summer. I don't try and keep it going over winter. I don't think my house is warm enough for it  ;)
    I do grow extra whenever possible, and I freeze it for bolognese/pasta dishes etc.
    I don't grow many other herbs now as most of them need overwintering undercover here, but I'd agree with @raisingirl - let them have a rest over winter, and dry or freeze some if you have the means to do that  :)
    I'd also agree with @philippasmith2, and certainly humidity could be a real problem. As she says, perhaps there are sites/forums in your area which may give some good indicators as to what will work  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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