By Anne Baley
The autumn frost signals the end to the garden for the year, as well as the end of fresh-grown herbs picked from outdoors and brought in for food and teas. Creative gardeners are asking, “Can you grow herbs in water?”
Instead of dealing with potting soil and planters, why not find some herbs that can grow in water and set up a row of attractive vases on your windowsill? Stems of perennial herbs will grow roots in glasses or jars of plain water, adding to your kitchen décor as well as producing new leaves and buds for use in fresh dishes through the cold winter months.
Herbs That Root in Water
Herbs that root in water and grow through the winter months are perennial herbs. Annual herbs are designed by nature to grow one season, produce seeds, and then die. Perennials will keep coming back and producing more leaves as long as you keep pinching off the older leaves as they grow to full size.
Some of the easiest and most popular herbs grown in water are:
The basic rule is if you like to use it and it’s a perennial, it will likely grow in water over the winter.
How to Grow Herb Plants in Water
This project is simple enough that you can teach your children how to grow herb plants in water and use this as an educational bit of entertainment. Begin with stems of herb plants from your garden, or even some perennial herbs from the grocery store. Clip stems about 6 inches long and remove the leaves from the bottom 4 inches of the stems. If you’re using grocery store herbs, cut off the bottom of each stem to allow it to absorb the most water.
Fill a large-mouthed jar or glass with clear water from the tap or bottle, but avoid distilled water. Distilling removes some essential minerals that allow the herbs to grow. If you use a clear glass container, you’ll have to change the water more frequently, as algae will form more rapidly in a clear glass. Opaque glass is best. If you are determined to use that great-looking clear jar, tape construction paper to one side of the jar to keep sunlight from the water.
Herbs that root in water do so partly by absorbing moisture through the bottom of the stem, so clip each stem end at an angle to increase the area for the stem to use. Place the herb stems in the jars filled with water and place them in a spot where they get at least six hours of sunlight each day.
Growing herbs in water will give you a small but steady supply through the winter. Clip each leaf as it grows to full size. This will encourage the stem to produce more leaves at the top. The stem will grow for months in this way, long enough to keep your kitchen in fresh herbs until the next generation of plants grows in the spring.