In some parts of California, the weather is beautiful year-round and the soil is always warm enough to grow a variety of culinary and medicinal herbs. So even in the fall and early winter, there’s good reason for you to be planting herbs in your garden. Below you will find some of the best winter herbs for California that thrive in cool weather in fall, winter, and springtime:
Winter Herbs for California
Cilantro (Buy Seeds Online) is a delicious herb that can be used in many different recipes. The best time to plant cilantro seeds is in the fall so you can harvest your own crop all winter long. Cilantro grows easily and quickly, and you can extend its growing season through succession planting. You can plant this herb in late summer or early fall for an extended harvest all winter long. And you can even start new plants indoors or grow them in an AeroGarden (Buy Online) so you never have to go without fresh cilantro ever again.
Red Celery (Buy Seeds Online) is a winter variety that can be grown year-round in most parts of California. It produces tender stalks with a strong celery flavor and it has a crimson red color that makes them great for garnishes, soups, and sauces. Best of all, the stalks retain their color when cooked making them perfect for prepared meals as well as eating fresh.
Dill (Buy Seeds Online) is a pretty herb with delicate fern-like leaves and tiny yellow flowers. It’s also one of the easiest herbs to grow in your garden. Dill grows well in containers, too. And you can plant it at the back of flowerbeds for a splash of color all year long. In addition to its ornamental value, dill makes an excellent companion plant for many vegetables because it deters pests from attacking them while attracting beneficial insects that help control other pests naturally.
Lemon Grass (Buy Seeds Online) is a perennial plant that has a strong lemon aroma and it is the source of Lemon Grass oil. It’s easy to grow, but it needs to be planted in a warm climate so you’ll need to move it inside when temperatures drop below 50 degrees F.
If you live in Southern California or in Florida then this herb will thrive for you all year long. Otherwise, you can grow lemongrass as an indoor plant that can be brought out into your garden when weather permits or you can start new plants from seed each spring and treat it as an annual.
Winter savory (Buy Seeds Online) is a perennial herb with delicate leaves and white flowers. It is a culinary herb with a strong, pungent, peppery flavor. Planting this aromatic culinary herb will attract bees to your garden so they can pollinate other plants nearby. It’s also deer resistant so if you have hungry deer wandering through your backyard it might help keep them away from more tender herbs like basil, oregano & sage.
Sweet marjoram (Buy Seeds Online) is a tender perennial herb that has many of the same culinary uses as oregano but also pairs well with other herbs and vegetables. Sweet marjoram is very easy to grow in a winter garden in California, so there’s no reason not to try this little-known herb out for yourself. If you’re looking for an alternative herb that can be used in your cooking without overpowering other flavors, sweet marjoram may be just what you need to spice a bland recipe up.
Lemon verbena (Buy Live Plants Online) is one of the most fragrant and easy-to-grow winter herbs in a Southern California garden. This perennial plant has sweet leaves with a lemon scent and flavor that make them great additions to teas and cocktails or used fresh in salads and desserts. Best of all, Lemon verbena will grow as a perennial in zones 8 to 11.
Oregano (Buy Seeds Online) grows well in Southern California and other Mediterranean climates like San Diego and Los Angeles. And oregano has dozens of culinary uses, and it’s easy to grow even if you don’t have a green thumb. Plus, it’s available in dozens of unique varieties that each have its own subtle flavor profile.
Tarragon (Buy Seeds Online) is a winter herb that grows well in California gardens, even when planted during late fall or early winter. The flowers attract bees so you’ll also be providing them with a great source of nectar for their honey production. You can harvest fresh tarragon at any time during its growing season but the best time is right before flowering when it has reached about 12 inches tall.
Thyme (Buy Seeds Online) is a delicious herb, but it’s also an important medicinal plant. The essential oils in thyme have been shown to have antibacterial properties and it can be used as an aromatic, to season meats and stews, or even to make salad dressings. Plus, it also has many other uses such as aromatherapy and making honey.
Chives (Buy Seeds Online) are one of the most popular winter herbs because they’re easy to grow and can be harvested through the cold winter months. Chives are also delicious in salads or as a garnish on potatoes, soups, or other dishes. Plus chive plants attract pollinators like bees which is good for your garden. And best of all they are extremely cold tolerant and they will grow as a perennial in zones 3-10.
In California, Rosemary (Buy Seeds Online) grows very well because of the warm climate. If you live in California or another warm area, you can easily grow rosemary year-round without any problems. However, if you want to grow rosemary outside in Northern California you might need to bring it indoors during the winter months.
Mint (Buy Seeds Online) grows very well in containers and can be grown indoors or outdoors. It also spreads quickly so it needs to be contained or kept under control to keep it from becoming invasive. Mint does best when you plant it in a sunny spot with good air circulation and keep the soil moist at all times. Plus, it is very cold tolerant and it will perennialize in USDA zones 3 – 10.
Fennel (Buy Seeds Online) is a cool-season crop grown in California. In the fall, fennel seeds should be planted directly into the ground. The plant grows well in rich soil that has been amended with compost or other organic matter.
Yarrow (Buy Seeds Online) is an easy-to-grow perennial herb that can be used as an ornamental plant or medicinal herb. It grows well in full sun and part shade with little water once established. Yarrow is cold hardy down to zone 4, but it grows best in USDA zones 5 to 9
German Chamomile (Buy Seeds Online) is a fragrant herb with dainty white flowers that grow well in temperate climates. It has been cultivated since ancient times and used as an herbal remedy for various ailments, including skin rashes, digestive problems, nervous disorders, and even insomnia.
This hardy perennial can tolerate drought conditions once established, but it prefers moist soil with good drainage. It’s a good idea to water chamomile regularly during dry periods to keep the ground moist until rain returns so it keeps setting new blooms all growing season.
Sage (Buy Seeds Online) is a hardy perennial shrub that can be grown in Southern California. It has a long history of medicinal use, and can also be used for culinary purposes. This herb is easy to grow outdoors, but it requires ample sunlight and well-drained soil. You’ll need to water it regularly during the summer months, but only sparingly during the winter when its dormant period begins.
Santolina (Buy Seeds Online) is the perfect plant for those that want the benefits of herb gardening without all the hassle. This compact aromatic clump of silver foliage looks terrific as an edging or border plant but also works well as a groundcover for areas with limited space. In addition, this perennial plant has yellow blooms during the spring and summer months that attract butterflies and bees while adding color contrast to your landscape design.
Santolina’s easy care requirements make it ideal for novice gardeners. And the best part about Santolina is its ability to thrive even under conditions where most plants would struggle – making it one of our favorite evergreen shrubs
Wormwood (Buy Seeds Online) is an aromatic herb that has a long history of medicinal uses, including being used as a dewormer and an insect repellant. It’s also useful as a digestive aid, due to its carminative properties. And wormwood plants are the perfect addition to a California garden because they will thrive even during hot summers and cold winters.
You might also be interested in Herbs That Grow in Shade Indoors (Read More)
Annual Versus Perennial Herbs
Herbs are a great way to add flavor and nutrients to your dishes. But what is the difference between an annual and perennial herb? An annual herb dies at the end of each growing season, while a perennial herb will last for years.
Read on for more information about these two types of herbs.
Benefits of Annual Herbs
There are a variety of annual herbs, and Some of these plants include basil, thyme, and oregano. Annual herbs provide a lot of benefits including pest control for your vegetables and flowers. And the best thing about annual herbs is that you don’t have to worry about them monopolizing space in your garden because they die off at the end of every year.
Benefits of Perennial Herbs
Perennial herbs are a gardener’s best friend. They are easy to grow, provide fresh herb flavor year-round, and require less maintenance than annuals.
Perennial herbs are a great addition to any garden. They can be grown from seed, given as cuttings, or transplanted from old gardens and they will continue to grow year after year.
Perennial herbs include sage, rosemary, and mint.
Selecting a Site To Plant Herbs in the Winter
When it comes to planting herbs in the winter, there are a few things you will need to take into consideration. There is not much sunlight for herbs during this time of year so they need to be planted in a bright sunny location.
The best place for them is usually somewhere where they can get at least six hours of sun exposure each day and where the soil stays above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s also important that you don’t over-water your plants because the soil won’t need to be watered as much. You also want to be prepared to cover your plants with a frost cover if cold snaps are a common occurrence in your area.
Growing Parsley (Buy Seeds Online) is really easy because it tolerates most soils and weather conditions, including cold temperatures which makes it an ideal option for growing during the winter months in California. Parsley grows best when planted directly into the soil from seed. And you can start harvesting parsley in about 6-8 weeks depending on how warm the weather is where you live.
Herbs That Thrive in Cold Weather
- Lemon grass
- Winter savory
- Sweet marjoram
- Lemon verbena
- French tarragon