The Best Herbs to Grow in Fall

A long time ago, my garden mentor told me fall is a great time to plant. I initially thought this was crazy advice. But it's not. Fall doesn't have to mean the end of your garden! There are lots of plants to grow in the fall and there are definite advantages to growing in a cooler climate. Below are some of my favorites herbs to grow in the fall so my kitchen stays stocked with fresh seasonings through autumn. 

How to Grow Herbs in Fall

Perennial vs. Annual — Herbs, like most garden plants, are classified by their lifecycle. 

Perennial plants grow back year after year. Tender perennials, like rosemary, have the ability to grow year after year, but cannot withstand cold weather. They must have proper winter care to continue growing. 

Annuals are plants that grow for one season and die with the winter weather. Some tender perennials are treated as annuals.

Pot vs. Garden — Perennial herbs can be planted directly in your garden where they will come back in the spring. If you do, however, have herbs you'd like to keep growing later in the season to make things like herb butter, you may want to consider pots even for your perennials. Pots are a must for annuals and tender perennials. The advantage to pots is you can bring them inside for protection during the cold fall nights and then put the pots outside to make the most of fall's waning sunlight.  

Seed vs. Plant — During any season, some herbs are just naturally better to grow from seed and others are better if you start out with a young plant. For fall herb growing, however, always start with a young plant because there's just not enough time (eight to ten weeks or more) for the plant to grow enough to have a meaningful harvest if you start from seed. 

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Herbs to Grow in Fall 

Parsley — Parsley is the Herb of the Year for 2021 and is one of the most popular herbs to grow. Parsley is a biennial meaning it grows leaves in its first year and then flowers and goes to seed in its second year. In the garden, parsley seeds readily so many people have it growing in different generations at the same time. Parsley can be found in both curly and flat-leaf varieties. 

Homespun Lore - Country folk once said that only people who were wicked were able to grow parsley.

Cilantro — Cilantro is a popular name for the green leaves of the coriander plant. The leaves look a lot like flat-leaf parsley but it can never be confused by taste. People either love it or they hate it. Cilantro is a cool weather plant, so it excels in the fall. When planted in the heat, cilantro tends to bolt, so with proper care, fall cilantro will bring joy to your Mexican dishes. When your cilantro does bolt, let it go to seed and then collect the seeds. Coriander seeds can be used to season some of your favorite dishes.

Thyme — Thyme is a little like mint because there are so many varieties to choose from lime to lemon and even lavender. There are also variegated and non-variegated foliages. Thyme acts as most other herbs when grown in a pot. It likes a sunny spot. It should be watered but does not like wet feet and does not like to dry out too much. I keep my lemon thyme in a pot and harvest well into the fall. Once frosts become the norm, I store my thyme in its container in my unheated garage. In the spring, I put the pot back outside and my thyme comes back. 

Homespun Lore - A garden full of thyme will attract fairies. 

Sage — Sage is the perfect plant to grow in the fall garden as it's used in so many fall dishes and especially at Thanksgiving. Sage does not like wet feet so make sure to plant sage in a well-draining pot. Sage does well in full sun, so consider a grow light for the best fall growing. Note: While garden sage is winter hardy when planted in the garden, other types of sage, like pineapple sage, are not winter-hardy. Be sure to note your individual plant's hardiness when you make your purchase. I take cuttings of my pineapple sage in early fall, root them in water and then plant to keep indoors over the winter.  

Rosemary — Rosemary is a tender perennial that can be grown in a container year-round and brought inside for the cold months. My secret to successfully overwintering rosemary is to never let the soil dry out but also not to soak the plant because it is prone to root rot and putting it outdoors whenever the weather is over 40 degrees and bringing it back in at night or if the temperatures dip.
Fun Fact - Rosemary and juniper berries were burned in French hospitals during WWII to kill germs. 

Mint — This is one of the easiest herbs to grow and can be found in a wide range of varieties from lemon to strawberry to mojito. There's something to cover all tastes in the mint family. Because mint spreads rapidly int eh garden, growing it in a pot makes sense in any season. Be sure to keep your mint moist. They don't like dry soil. 

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