Five of the best herbs to grow in winter

best herbs to grow garden home in winter 2022 uk - Patricia Fenn
best herbs to grow garden home in winter 2022 uk - Patricia Fenn

My pots of tender salvias and succulents are tucked firmly away under cover and I've replaced them on the terrace table with a collection of my favourite culinary herbs. Perfect to grow in winter time - and a great addition to hearty home-cooked meals.

I've also bought a nice set of wirework shelves from antique shop Branching Out that I'll stock with potted herbs, so I don't spend the cold evenings playing hide and seek in the garden.

We all know and love trusty herbs such as bay, rosemary, thyme and sage - but there are others that will sit out the winter's cold and bring cheer and flavour. With myrtle, hyssop and winter savoury, there's a whole world of hearty flavours in the herb garden. We just need the time and confidence to try them.

If this sounds like something you'd like to get cracking on during these colder months, pay attention to below and grow your garden full of herbs that you can add to your cooking.

Best herbs to grow in winter


Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a dense hardy perennial and member of the mint family, native of the sunny Mediterranean. In tiny quantities it's delicious with fish, meat and vegetables.

A holy herb, traditionally it was hung in homes to protect from the evil eye, and was used to flavour absinthe. Tisanes made with the leaves and sweetened with honey will soothe a seasonal sore throat. With bright blue flower spikes, it looks good edging the beds of the herb garden.

Winter savory best herbs to grow garden home 2022 uk - Alamy
Winter savory best herbs to grow garden home 2022 uk - Alamy

Winter savory

Virgil recommended that winter savory (perennial cousin to annual summer savory) should be grown near beehives for year-round nectar. Another member of the mint family, it's used to flavour stuffings, and is worth considering with turkey as a change from sage. I love its strong flavour on grilled goat's cheese or to flavour cheese scones.

In the days before the spices of the East were commonplace in Europe, the Romans used it to flavour vinegar as a precursor to mint sauce. Grown in this country since 1562, winter savory (Satureja montana) is a small compact shrub with tiny white flowers that does well in a pot.


With warmer winters, myrtle (Myrtus communis) should be planted more frequently. Its small baylike leaves smell lovely, so pot it in well-drained gritty compost, and place by the front door to enjoy each time you pass. With small fragrant cream flowers full of furry golden stamens, pinkish stems and pretty blue/black berries, it's a plant for all seasons.

Herb expert Jekka McVicar tells me it's one of her favourite herbs: "I harvest myrtle berries in November to make myrtle, rather than sloe gin. It has a warm spicy flavour, ideal for Christmas. The leaves can be used in stews and soups, are especially good with pork and game, and would be excellent in pork sausages," she says.

Keep myrtle cosy under the eaves of your house, wrapped in fleece if the temperatures really plummet and away from bitter wind and wet. The variety 'Tarentina' is more compact, and 'Variegata' has silvery leaves that look good with the pink-tinged creamy flowers.


Most evergreens should be pruned in late summer, but I go out now to trim my bay hedge and bring the cuttings in to decorate the house. Some leaves go under a mat to dry and flatten, and I pile them up and tie with ribbon to slip into Christmas cards in December.

I will also bring small bunches of evergreen herbs into the house to dress the kitchen table and enjoy their lovely smells, and to have them close to hand for hearty dishes.

I take a cake dish, Bundt tray (from, or an Oasis wreath and add sprigs of tied bay, rosemary, silver and lemon thyme, twigs of myrtle, lavender, purple and bright green sage, to make a beautiful table centrepiece with a candle in the middle. Nordic House has a wide variety of candles in stock. I love its sparkly birch bark-covered ones, and also its set of grey birch bark planters.

I also use bay to make chocolate leaves to decorate wintery dishes: take several clean leaves and rub them with a little vegetable oil. Coat them with melted dark chocolate and leave to set on greaseproof paper or silver foil. Once set, peel them off carefully to decorate cakes and puddings, or just leave on a plate for guests to nibble.

Bay leaves coated in chocolate make excellent decorations for cakes and puddings.


Bulbous chervil best herbs to grow garden home in winter 2022 uk - Alamy
Bulbous chervil best herbs to grow garden home in winter 2022 uk - Alamy

There is one annual that will last most of the winter in warmer parts of the country: bright green chervil with frilly leaves that self-seeds on the vegetable plot and gives a surprisingly summery taste of parsley and tarragon. I blitz it with a dash of olive oil to make a lovely chervil oil to drizzle over steamed salmon with leeks and red peppers or beetroot salad.

Most herbs can be used to flavour oils and vinegars and make great presents in pretty bottles (from Woody herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage taste good in olive oil with a twist of lemon peel. Store in a fridge once opened.

This article has been updated with the latest information.