Many gardeners assume that winter is never a good time of year to plant herbs. However, despite the freezing temperatures, you can still get a supply of fresh herbs simply by planting winter-hardy plants.
Nick’s Garden Center explains what hardy herbs are and how they’re adapted for this season. We also introduce you to the best herbs that can withstand Denver’s cold winters.
Find the right variety for your garden.
Understanding Winter-hardy Herbs
Winter-hardy herbs are a variety of plants that can thrive in winter. The herbs have special adaptations that help them thrive in harsh conditions such as frost. In particular, the winter-hardy plants have the following characteristics:
- Small leaves
- Waxy coating
- Thick bark
- Deep roots
Planning Your Winter Herb Garden
Planning is an important first step in winter gardening. It helps you take steps to protect your herbs from frost damage, root rot and general stress. So how do you plan your herb garden in the winter? Here are three crucial steps to take into account:
- Assess your garden’s climate zone. Climate zone assessment provides information about typical winter weather conditions in your region. This knowledge will help you select appropriate herbs for your garden.
- Choose the right herbs for your specific region. Not every hardy herb can thrive in your area. Therefore, shop around for winter-hardy herbs that are adapted to Denver’s winter weather.
- Design a layout for your winter herb garden. Before planting, create a plan based on factors, such as sun exposure, growing habits, and garden size. Use this plan to determine the number of seedlings you will need.
Top Winter-Resistant Herbs
From perennial herbs and medicinal herbs to annuals, there is a wide range of hardy plants from which to choose. Below, the garden experts at Nick’s Garden Center present the best varieties of each category.
Perennial herbs have a lifespan of more than two years. These herb varieties provide you with fresh herbs year after year without the need for regular replanting.
Some of the best perennial herbs that are ideal for winter in Denver are:
- Rosemary. Rosemary is a versatile, aromatic herb used for culinary and ornamental purposes. With proper care, it can live 15 – 25 years.
- Thyme. Thyme is a low-growing shrub with a leafy, hollow stem. It is a popular spice for soups, stews and vegetables.
- Sage. Sage boasts velvety, gray-green leaves that beautify your garden. You can also use the herb as a spice for root vegetables.
- Lavender. The plant has slender stems with silvery green foliage. It is famous for its calming and soothing properties.
Biennial herbs usually have a life span of two years. They complete their vegetative growth in one year and flower and set seed the next. Like perennials, biennials save you the hassle of replanting each year.
Some of the best biennial herbs for winter in Denver are:
- Parsley. Parsley is characterized by light green, feathery leaves. Gardeners use it as a culinary herb to flavor salads and sauces.
- Chervil. Chervil has fern-like leaves with a bright green hue. It has an anise-like flavor that goes well with omelets and seafood.
- Angelica. Angelica has a tall stem with lobed leaves and clusters of greenish-white flowers. The herb is prized for its medicinal properties.
Cold-tolerant Annual Herbs
These herbs germinate, flower, and seed within one year. Unlike perennial and biennial herbs, annual herbs allow you to switch up your herbs each season and enjoy a variety of aromas, flavors, or therapeutic benefits.
The annual herbs that do well in Denver winters are:
- Cilantro/Coriander. Cilantro has bright green, parsley-like leaves that add beautiful character to your garden. Aside from its beauty, you can use the plant to flavor a variety of dishes.
- Dill. Dill has pinnate leaves and clusters of small yellow flowers. It is famous as a culinary herb used for pickling and seasoning seafood.
- Winter Savory. Winter savory is characterized by small, glossy green leaves and a compact growth habit. It has an aromatic, peppery flavor that is excellent for stuffings and meat dishes.
Medicinal Winter Herbs
Medicinal herbs are rich in bioactive compounds like alkaloids, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds. These compounds are often anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, or immune-boosting.
Winter-hardy plants with potent medicinal value include:
- Echinacea. Echinacea has bright, daisy-like flowers with striking dark green leaves. It is a powerful immune booster.
- Lemon Balm. Lemon balm has heart-shaped leaves with a fresh, lemony scent. Its aroma helps you calm down.
- Peppermint. Peppermint has dark green, serrated leaves and small purple flowers. It relieves stomach ailments.
Get Your Winter-Hardy Herbs at Nick’s Garden Center
Nick’s Garden Center has been supporting Denver gardeners since 1987. We supply a wide selection of plants, including annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs. Besides selling plants, we offer expert advice to help you make the right gardening choices.
Contact us to learn more about winter-hardy herbs.