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5 Cold Hardy Herbs That Grow in Winter (Outside)

Winter doesn’t have to mean a barren herb garden. With the right variety, you can enjoy fresh herbs all season long, no matter how low the temperature dips. Read on to learn about 5 herbs that can withstand even the harshest of frost, and how to grow them in your own backyard.

Thyme growing under a heavy frost.

Herbs are a staple in any kitchen, adding flavor and fragrance to dishes and teas. But just because the temperature drops doesn’t mean your herb garden has to shut down for the winter.

There are several herbs that are frost hardy and can thrive even in harsh winter conditions. These herbs are perfect for outdoor gardeners who don’t want to stop harvesting fresh herbs just because of a little snow.

In this article, we’ll explore 5 of the most cold-hardy herbs that can grow and flourish in your outdoor garden all winter long.

Cold-Hardy Herbs

Cold-hardy herbs, also known as frost-tolerant herbs, are plants that are capable of surviving and thriving in cold temperatures, even in the presence of frost or snow.

These herbs are well adapted to growing in colder climates and can continue to grow and produce flavorful leaves and stems throughout the winter months.

This makes them ideal for gardeners who live in areas with cold winters, as they can add flavor and fragrance to the garden all year round, and they also provide visual interest in the garden when other plants are dormant.

Herbs that grow in winter outside

1. Oregano

Oregano is a herb that is known for its frost tolerance, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who live in areas with colder climates.

This herb is a hardy perennial that can withstand cold temperatures and even frost. In fact, oregano is known to thrive in cold weather and some say its flavor becomes stronger with exposure to frost.

Oregano is often used as a flavor enhancer in winter dishes, as its strong, pungent flavor complements the rich flavors of hearty stews, soups, and roasted meats.

Whether grown indoors or outdoors, oregano can be harvested fresh or dried for later use. Its frost-tolerance makes it a reliable source of fresh herbs even during the coldest months of the year.

Oregano is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4-10.

2. Thyme

Thyme is another herb that is known for its frost-tolerance. This hardy herb can withstand cold temperatures down to 20°F (-6C) and can even survive in areas with light snow.

Thyme is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of winter dishes, adding a warm and pungent flavor.

Thyme is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-9.

3. Sage

Sage is a well-known culinary herb that is also highly valued for its frost-hardiness.

This herb is able to withstand cold temperatures and will often continue to grow and produce leaves even when exposed to frost. This makes it an excellent choice for gardeners who live in regions with cool or even cold climates, as sage can provide fresh herbs even during the winter months.

Sage is another herb traditionally used to flavor winter dishes such as roasted meats and stuffings.

Sage is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-8.

4. Chives

Chives are a popular herb that is known for its cold tolerance and versatility in the kitchen.

The herb is a hardy perennial that can withstand temperatures as low as -30°F and grow well in most soil types, making it a great choice for gardens in areas with harsh winter climates.

Chives are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3-10.

5. Winter savory

Winter savory is a frost-tolerant herb that can withstand temperatures as low as 20°F (-6°C). This makes it a great option for gardeners looking to grow herbs in areas with harsh winter conditions.

It is a semi-evergreen plant that can continue to provide fresh leaves throughout the winter months.

Winter savory has a pungent, peppery flavor and is a popular ingredient in stuffing, stews, and roasted meats.

Winter savory is hardy in USDA Hardiness zones 6-9.

Tips for growing herbs in winter

These herbs are able to survive cold temperatures, but it is important to take certain precautions to ensure their health and survival. Here are some tips:

  1. A layer of mulch can protect the roots of the herbs from extreme cold temperatures.
  2. It is important to water the herbs consistently, even in the winter, to prevent them from drying out. However, it is also important to avoid over-watering, as the roots can become waterlogged and rot in the cold, wet soil.
  3. Pruning the herbs in the late fall or early winter can help to remove any dead or diseased growth and promote new, healthy growth in the spring.
  4. Wind can be especially damaging to herbs in the winter, so it is important to protect them from strong winds by positioning them near a windbreak or using a barrier such as a burlap or plastic screen.
  5. Cold-hardy herbs can still be susceptible to pests in the winter, so it is important to keep an eye out for any signs of infestation and treat them promptly.