Indoor Herbs

Indoor Herbs

Part of Ep. 203 Spring Planning

Discover how to take slips, or cuttings, from plants in your garden to grow herbs indoors during the winter.

Premiere date: Feb 28, 1994

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We've shown you how easy it is to start flowers and vegetables by seed. Now, we're going to look at some herbs that you may want to add to your spring shopping list. With me, is herb gardener, Anna, and we're in Mazomanie, in southcentral Wisconsin. We're looking at some herbs that can be grown year round. We've got some pineapple sage and rose geranium. Anna, are these herbs that I want to start from seed?

Anna:
Probably not. First of all, you can't find seeds for pineapple sage. It's very difficult. And secondly, if you buy seeds of scented geraniums, they're always mixed. You probably won't get what you want.

Shelley:
I know they come in a lot of scents. So, if you're really looking for rose or peppermint, you really need to smell it before you buy it.

Anna:
Right. And you can find them in garden centers, or use some from a friend. The scented geraniums are very interesting. There are over 400 varieties. They came to this country on a very interesting route. Sailors found them growing natively in South Africa and thought they were nice, so they took them to their homes in Europe. And from Europe, they made their way to this country.

Shelley:
They've been part of our culture for a very long time. How do I care for something like this?

Anna:
The plant can be grown and set out in the garden after the danger of frost is past. It will grow very nicely throughout the season and will obtain a large size, at least three feet across.

Shelley:
So, would I bring the entire plant back in in the fall? It winters indoors, I take it.

Anna:
It does winter indoors. I don't have the kind of room in my home to bring big plants in. So, I take slips-- and it's very easy to do-- Simply cut the plant off below the small leaves and then, put them in soil, fairly moist soil, and then what I do is put a plastic bag over the cuttings, which has a vent for venting off extra moisture. Just leave the plants in this plastic arrangement, which is like a greenhouse, and do not water it again. In three weeks, you'll have living cuttings. These have rooted and I made them three weeks ago.

Shelley:
So, then you take the bag off?

Anna:
Take the bag off and then divide the plants. I have three in here. Pot them in individual small pots and winter them in the small pots. In the spring, you can plant them out.

Shelley:
So, this is a way to get plants from friends or to increase the number of plants you've got.

Anna:
Or to make plants for friends.

Shelley:
This is pineapple sage. It has a beautiful, almost fresh pineapple flavor. How do I care for this?

Anna:
It grows in really hot weather in full sun and loves that. Of course, we don't have those conditions in our homes in the winter. So, they tend to get a little spindly. It's nice to go back about every six weeks and snip out the growing tip of the plant.

Shelley:
So, you just pinch them off. That's to keep the herb from getting too leggy.

Anna:
It keeps them nice and compact so that when it's time for it to go outside, it's really ready to grow rather than heading to be just spindly.

Shelley:
I've used the cuttings that you've done in fresh teas.

Anna:
They are great.

Shelley:
I happen to grow it because of the red flowers. I don't cook with it a lot, other than in fresh teas. But the flowers attract hummingbirds.

Anna:
The flowers are a beautiful red.

Shelley:
Now, this is one that I've had trouble growing indoors-- rosemary. It seems to dry out. It's fine outdoors, but it doesn't work indoors.

Anna:
Translated, rosemary means dew of the sea. You have to realize that natively, they grow in the mediterranean where it's continually wafted by warm sea breezes. We do not have this condition in our homes during the winter! In order to help the plant, I spritz it about three times a week at night. Pull the bag up over it, close down the top, leave the bag on over night and then remove it the next morning. This keeps the humidity tight around the plant. It really helps the rosemary to grow.

Shelley:
This really is a miniature greenhouse. You don't have to do anything like that when you set it outside?

Anna:
No. Our conditions in Wisconsin seem to be such that the plant grows very nicely outdoors.

Shelley:
This is one that you can't actually grow indoors year round. It's a hearty perennial-- chives. But it's obviously dormant during the winter. How did you get such healthy looking chives this time of the year?

Anna:
In September, I pot up a division from my plant, put it in the pot, put it somewhere outside to stay there until the first of the year, so that it freezes and is dormant. Then, I bring it in, put it in a warm, sunny window and in two weeks, I have fresh chives.

Shelley:
A great way to enjoy it year round. Speaking of uses, let's look at another one. This is the rose geranium-- this is a way to enjoy it.

Anna:
Yes, it was fun yesterday to accept the challenge of developing something special for this program. This is a rose geranium tea cake made as one would make an ordinary tea cake and then glazed with a rose geranium syrup.

Shelley:
So, rose geraniums have been used in culinary cooking for a while?

Anna:
Yes. In fact, in the south during the civil war, when the south was cut off from all of its sources of spices and flavorings, people turned to what was growing around them. And the rose geranium was one plant that they could use.

Shelley:
Thanks. Consider adding some of these to your spring herb garden.

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