Will Herbs Survive Winter in Pots? How to Help Them Thrive Through the Colder Months

Herbs are easy to grow and provide a bounty of flavor to home cooking. Many popular culinary herbs like basil parsley cilantro, and dill are annuals that die off when cold weather arrives. But perennial herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, and chives can continue providing fresh flavor through winter when grown in pots and properly cared for.

Frequency of Entities

  • herbs: 18 times
  • survive: 8 times
  • winter: 16 times
  • pots: 12 times
  • grow: 7 times

With some simple techniques to protect your potted herbs and meet their care needs, you can harvest garden-fresh herbs even during the colder months.

Can Potted Herbs Survive Winter?

Many hardy perennial herbs can survive winter when left in the ground, especially in warmer climates. But potted herbs are more exposed and vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Their roots are confined to the pot with limited insulation.

So whether potted herbs survive winter depends on these factors

  • The herb variety and its cold hardiness
  • Your winter temperatures in the region
  • Providing protection and proper care

Herbs like thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, and chives are the best choices for overwintering in pots. More tender herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill will likely perish.

Tips to Help Potted Herbs Survive Winter

Here are some tips to improve the chances of your potted perennial herbs thriving through winter:

Choose the Right Plants

  • Select cold-hardy herbs with lower minimum temperatures like thyme, sage, oregano, chives.

  • Avoid frost-tender herbs like basil, cilantro, dill.

Use Larger Pots

  • Bigger pots have more soil to insulate roots from freezing.

  • At least 12-14 inches wide and 10-12 inches deep.

Remove Dead Growth

  • Prune dead stems and leaves through fall and winter.

  • Promotes new growth and removes disease risks.

Find a Protected Spot

  • Place pots in a covered porch, greenhouse, cold frame, or against the house foundation.

  • Gets sunlight while shielding from rain, wind, and hard freezes.

Add Mulch

  • Cover potting soil with 2-3 inches of shredded leaves, bark chips, or straw.

  • Acts as insulation to protect roots from frost.

Water Sparingly

  • Check soil moisture before watering and water only when dry.

  • Excess moisture damages roots in cold weather.

Monitor for Pests

  • Inspect regularly for pests like aphids, mites that can weaken plants.

  • Treat with horticultural oils or insecticidal soap sprays.

Overwintering Tips for Specific Herbs

Along with the general care tips, some herb varieties need extra protection or care through winter:


  • Wrap pots in burlap or foam insulation to guard against frost.

  • Provide high light near a sunny window if overwintering indoors.

  • Don’t overwater; allow soil to partially dry out between waterings.


  • Mulch around pots with straw or pine needles for insulation.

  • Water sparingly, just enough to keep roots from drying out.

  • Prune back to 6 inches before winter to prevent wind damage.


  • Move potted plants to a cool spot with temps between 40-500F.

  • Cut back leggy growth halfway to encourage new growth.

  • Keep soil slightly moist but not drenched.


  • Overwinter indoors near a bright window if temperatures drop below 150F.

  • Prune back by a third before moving pots indoors.

  • Allow soil to dry between waterings to prevent root rot.


  • Mulch around pots to insulate roots or overwinter indoors.

  • Cut back foliage by half in late fall to prevent disease.

  • Avoid wet soil that can lead to bulb rot in winter.

What to Do With Potted Herbs in Colder Climates

In regions with extreme winters, temperatures may dip too low for potted herbs to survive outdoors. Here are some options:

  • Overwinter herbs in an unheated garage or shed if temperatures remain above 20°F.

  • Grow herbs in containers small enough to move indoors to a sunny window.

  • Take cuttings in late summer or fall and propagate new plants for next year.

  • Treat tender herbs like annuals – take cuttings or dig up plants to replant in spring.

  • Plant cold-tolerant herbs in raised garden beds instead of pots for better winter survival.

Common Problems for Potted Herbs Overwintered Outdoors

Even with the best care, potted herbs kept outdoors through winter can encounter issues like:

Drying Out

Herbs in pots outdoors often dry out from wind and cold. Check soil frequently and water just enough to moisten when the top few inches become dry.

Insufficient Light

Less winter sunlight can hinder growth. Supplement with grow lights if possible or rotate pots to equalize light exposure.

Frost Damage

Hard freezes can damage above ground growth and unprotected roots. Cover plants or move to a sheltered area on extremely cold nights.

Pot Bound Roots

Roots filling up the pot limit water and nutrient absorption. Transplant root-bound herbs into larger containers in early spring.

Disease and Pests

Inspect regularly and treat issues like mold, mildew, root rot and overwintering pests. Disinfect pots before replanting.

FAQs About Overwintering Potted Herbs

Here are answers to some common questions about growing herbs in pots through winter:

What herbs can be left outside in pots over winter?

Rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, chives are hardy herbs that can remain in pots outdoors over winter in most regions with some added protection.

Should I bring my potted herbs indoors for winter?

If temperatures in your area drop below 15-20°F, it’s best to move tender potted herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro indoors for the winter.

Where should I keep my potted herbs indoors in winter?

Keep indoor overwintered herbs in the brightest spot possible, like a south-facing window. Rotate pots occasionally so all sides receive equal light exposure.

Do I still need to water potted herbs in winter?

Check soil moisture every 2-3 weeks and water sparingly when the top few inches become dry. Be careful not to overwater during winter months.

What temperature do most herbs prefer in winter?

Most overwintered herbs thrive best with cool to cold temperatures between 35-50°F. Avoid placing them near heat sources indoors.

Enjoy Fresh Herbs All Winter!

With the right herb varieties selected for your climate along with some overwintering care and protection, you can enjoy homegrown flavor from herbs grown in pots even during the colder months.

Step two to overwinter herbs indoors

Check your herbs carefully for pests so that you dont have any unwanted house guests for the winter. Prune damaged or discolored leaves. If you see bugs, remove them or spray the plant with a solution of soap and water. Shop Our Favorite Gardening Tools.

Step three to overwinter herbs indoors

Choose containers that are deep enough to accommodate the roots of your herbs (at least 6 inches deep). I like to use terra cotta pots for moisture control. A wide metal tub by Behrens is another great choice. It lets you plant several of your favorite herbs together. You can find these easily at hardware stores, but youll have to drill your own drainage holes. You need at least one good drainage hole in the bottom of your container or pot.

When you water your herbs, don’t let the soil spill out of the bottom of the pots or containers. Line the bottom with landscaping cloth or burlap.

Mix potting soil, coarse sand (like paver sand), and compost together and put it in the bottom of your containers or pots.

will herbs survive winter in pots

9 Herbs Surviving Well in Cold Winter Weather

Leave a Comment