Herbs that can't handle our summer heat - or winter cold,

liz_h(7/8 DFW Texas)July 6, 2008

I'm finally planting some herbs on the deck, and would also like to grow some that can't take the heat. I plan to grow them indoors under lights.

My first thought for indoor herbs is parsley and cilantro.

How about dill? Would it immediately bolt if I put some outside now?

I remember that tarragon always died back in the summer. Could I keep it year round inside?

And there was one I can't remember whose leaves tasted like celery, but maybe it made it through the summer.

Can you suggest anything else that would do better inside than out in the heat?

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ltcollins1949(9a TX)


Please feel free to check out our website Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group.

We have warm-weather herbs and cool-weather herbs that we grow in Texas. Often, when an herb seed package says "full sun", it isn't referring to Texas. A couple of suggestions:

-Cilantro and dill are cool weather herbs;
-Parsely, a biennial, can take the summer heat if protected with partial shade; likes cool weather best;
-Forget about French tarragon Artemisia dracunculus Estragon was the good tasting one. Just putting the word tarragon leaves you with no way to really know which you have. Russian Tarragon A.redowskii sometimes classified A.Dracunculoides is a close relative, that looks the same, but has no flavor. I suggest that you substitute the Mexican Mint Marigold a/k/a Texas Tarragon. It's just as good and easy to grow, and unlike the French Tarragon, it gets a pretty yellow flower in the fall which looks nice and tastes good in salads.
-Regarding celery flavor there is EZ celery and Japanese parsely.

basil -- Warm weather herb but some can overwinter in deep south Texas if protected.

parsley -- Cool weather herbs, both curly and Italian.

lemon balm -- Mint Family which can be grown as either cool or warm, but does best in some shade during summer.

soapwort -- I don't grow it, so I'm not sure. However, it is native to Europe and does well in England and needs to be grown in a damp region, so I would try it as a cool weather herb just to see how it does.

chives -- Cool weather herbs, both onion and garlic.

borage -- I don't grow it either, but it is considered a cool weather herb.

oregano -- It is a perennial. I would wait and plant it in the spring, and then it should be able to get through the winter.

dill -- Cool weather herb that won't even make it through the summer here in south Texas.
Anyway, here is some more information that might be helpful.

Cool Weather Herbs

Fennel, dill, parsley and carrots are host plants for the swallowtail cats, so that is why I grow lots of them, but by summer they are suffering from the combined high heat and high humidity.

In Texas the heat is so much more intense than in other parts of the country, that we divide up growing herbs into the cool-weather herbs and the warm-weather herbs. When you get an herb and the little sticker says "full sun", don't do it.

Both fennel and rue are considered cool-weather herbs down here, but if you take the necessary precautions, you can grow them as perennials. Be sure to grow them in shade to dapple sunlight. Don't let them bolt, and you can keep them going. More than likely the fennel won't come back if the cats got it. Some other cool weather herbs are cilantro and dill. They just won't, most of the time, make it down here during the summer. Let it bolt and around November you should see lots of little babies coming back up that will make it through the winter only to die back in June or July.

The best books for herb growing in Texas are: Southern Herb Growing by Madalene Hill & Gwen Barclay and Herbs for Texas by Howard Garrett. Both of these are the best books that you can get for Texas herbs. I have lots of herb books that I enjoy, but for Texas get both of these or at least one of these. Garrett says that both of these can take full sun, but I have found that if you want to give them full sun, just make sure that it is the morning sun and not the afternoon sun.

I see that you are in zone 8. OK, down here in the hot, humid south, we divide herbs up into the "cool-weather herbs" and the "hot-weather herbs". Lots of herbs that say "plant in the spring" pertain to the northern part of the U.S.A. Here in the south, if you want to plant them in the spring, plant them very early and realize that most will die just as soon as it starts getting "hot". It actually is better if you plant them around mid to late October for a longer growing season. And then there are some herbs that can be over wintered or over summered providing they are growing in the right location of your gardens.

Also be sure that your herbs are in a well drained area. Most herbs don't like "wet feet". Also add lots of compost and lots of mulch. When our air temperatures are 95 the soil near the roots of the plant can register 120°. Thus the need for lots of mulch which protects the herbs both in the summer and in the winter.

Some of the "cool-weather herbs" for the south are:

Both the curly-leaf parsley a/k/a French parsley and the flat-leaf parsley a/k/a Italian parsley are easy to grow and attractive in the garden. These are "cool-weather herbs" that need to be planted in either early spring or late fall. Being a biennial, it flowers the second year and dies, but if you keep the flower stalk cut back, you might keep it for yet another year. It is best to plant a new plant each fall for a constant supply.

Some more "cool-weather herbs" are cilantro, dill, fennel, chervil, salad burnet, and sorrel to name just a few.

Some of the "warm-weather herbs" are basil, lemon grass, lemon verbena, culantro, ginger, Mexican mint marigold a/k/a Texas tarragon, and Mexican oregano. Rosemary is a perennial that will, should, grow year round in the south providing you are growing it in a well-drained bed.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 8:51PM
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