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 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.
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 (15 cm.) long and remove the leaves from the bottom 4 inches (10 cm.) 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.
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Read more about General Herb Care
Martha Stewart joined TODAY Tuesday morning to offer a few tips on how to plant your own herb garden — just in time for picnic season. We've compiled her best tips and tricks for keeping things green and, well, alive.
Just like most plants, herbs thrive in well-draining soil. But you can (and should!) help out the drainage process by layering the bottom of the box with gravel and adding a loose, well-composted soil to the top. Oh, and there’s no need to add fertilizer. Your herbs will be just fine without it.
I am interested in the herbs growing in water. I’ve read which ones, but not the instructions on how to do it. Please could you help with this. Most interested in the Rosemary.
How do you do this herbs I. Water….sounds. Fun but how to is missing.
Get some cuttings of Rosemary etc and put then in a glass or Jar with a little bit water and ke them on a sunny window sill. Roots will appear after few weeks. Change the water requlararly.
Look up hydroponic herbs on YouTube.com
Need some direction, do I just drop seeds in water? Or does it have to be cuttings?
It has to be cuttings of some sort! You can start sprouting seeds in water, you just have to wrap them in a damp paper towel and place in the sun!
That is fantastic news, I Will try Basil in water, I eat Basil every day.
Look on YouTube.com under hydroponic herbs. The site is filled with how to’s.
Anyone have “instructions” on growing these herbs in water?
I am intersting in growing herbs in water can you please explain how to do it
I, will like to learn hou to grow herbs in water but I don’t have the instructions van u please help me.
I will like to grow herbs in water but I don’t have any instructions can u help me please.
While many herbs will grow in water for a time, some will do better than others. Here is a list of some herbs that grow exceptionally well.
Tip: did you know consuming mint boosts your memory?
The consumption of fresh or powdered herbs from the mint family in culinary doses can help boost memory.
When you select herbs for growing in water, look for a young branch with new growth. You’ll want about 6-8 inches. Remove the lower leaves and place in the water. You can usually get 3-4 cuttings in one glass, but as they grow, they’ll need more space. If you plan to take soft cuttings frequently, you can keep more cuttings to a container. If you plan to let the plants get bigger, one per glass is good. Place the glasses on a windowsill.
Once you start your cuttings, you’ll want to change the water once a week or so. They’ll start to grow roots within a week. If they don’t, you can add a rooting hormone or a few twigs from a willow tree. Willows contain a natural hormone that promotes root growth. Once the roots start to grow, you won’t need to change the water, or not change it as much. The roots will filter out excess plant waste.
If the water starts to turn green, or the roots turn green, you may need to block some of the light. Plants need light to survive, so blocking the bottom may be all you need to do. You can tape a piece of paper around the glass, or you can paint the glass before you use it.
During the winter, the light from the sun isn’t strong enough to help the plants to grow. There are several ways to fix this. One is to place the plants outside on a sunny day, but not long enough to burn them. Like you, plants can get sunburn.
Another way to get light when growing herbs in water is to get a shop light and use daylight simulated bulbs. These are available at pet stores and hardware stores. The one thing you need to be aware of here is that the bulbs will lose about half their intensity over time. You may not be able to see it with the naked eye, but you’ll see it in the plants. They’ll start to get straggly. Change out your bulbs when you see the plants starting to fail.
Windows are another consideration. You would think that if you put a plant by a window, they’ll get the light they need to survive. Years ago, that may have been true. But now, with the advent of triple pane UV resistant windows, that no longer holds true. The newer windows filter out harmful UV rays, but these are the same rays that the plants need, so they end up not getting enough sunlight. My Dad had an interesting solution. He installed an old door, one with very old glass, as a window in his new home. As a result, his plants are thriving.
Once you have your herbs growing, you can use them as you would any fresh herb.
Have you tried growing herbs indoors? Now is the time to start!
Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon! Connect with Debra Maslowski on G+.
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The herbs provide many health benefits to your body due to their medicinal, culinary and relaxation properties. However, they are not always available in a raw state throughout the year. So, why don’t you grow some of them in your kitchen? In this way, you will not only keep them close at hand but they will provide a pleasant flavor in your kitchen.
The following method of growth doesn’t include regular watering, soil or changing seasons. What you only have to do is place a certain herb in a water and let it grow. Don’t worry, these herbs are as flavorsome as those you grow in the garden.
However, you need to sow dill, mustard and cilantro seeds in a soil and then transfer them to water. You can’t transfer a soil herb to water one because the soil roots are different than the water roots.
You can place some herb cuttings in glass bottles full with plain water in order to keep them at hand. Avoid chlorinated water, because the bleaching chemical can damage the plant tissues. Instead, leave some tap water to air overnight or store some rainwater. The best solution is spring water because of the amount of minerals it contains.
As a container choose some mason jar, glass bottle or even plastic bottle. Roots doesn’t like to be exposed to light so use some colored bottles especially those with amber color or you can eve wrap a piece of paper around the bottle in order to create a dark space. The dark zone will prevent algal growth on the bottle and on the root. This will not affect the plant growth but will make the bottles look untidy.
The narrow-mouthed containers can support the cuttings and keep them upright but it should not be narrow or tight-fitting because the mouth of the container should allow free transition of air in order the roots to breathe.
Soft cuttings root quickly in water without using any rooting hormones. So, cut some 6-inch sections from the growing herbs and place them in the water-containers. Remove the lower leaves from the cuttings because there shouldn’t be any leaves in the water. They can rot very easily thus spoiling the water as in the flower vases.
Some herbs as the rosemary cuttings may take longer to root. In that case, change the water once a week but be careful not to disturb the cuttings. When the roots start growing, often between 2-6 weeks, the water changes may not be necessary.
If you want to encourage rooting, take some willow branches and place them in warm water overnight. They will provide a rooting hormone mix. Also, you can use some rooting hormone powder.
1. Peppermint – This popular mint is well-known for its medicinal properties as well as the high amount of the volatile substance menthol. Menthol gives a cooling sensation on the skin or tongue without causing any variation in the temperature. This is one of the easiest herbs to be grown in water, just place some fresh peppermint cuttings in water.
2. Spearmint – Another type of mint that is closely connected to peppermint. In fact, peppermint is a natural hybrid of spearmint.
3. Basil – is the ideal herb that would grow in a water-filled container and in a warm indoor place. You only have to provide the basil a good light. Place the basil cuttings in water before they start flowering. This water growing method is a perfect if you want to preserve some varieties of basil during winter.
4. Oregano – The leaves of this herbs are used almost with any vegetable. So, take fresh cuttings of oregano and place them in water. Pinch the growing tips as the plant grows well.
5. Stevia – It is good to have this type of herb in your home in order to add it to some beverages and teas. Take some stevia cuttings from actively growing branches and put them in water. Place the container in a warm place with as much light as possible.
6. Sage – Take some cuttings of this herb in the spring and put them in water. You don’t need more than 2 plants because you will need very tiny amounts for flavor. The herb need a bright light and a well-aerated place because it is prone to mildew.
7. Tarragon – Take some cuttings in the spring after new growth appears. The fall ones are good also but it will take time until the roots grow. It also needs warm place and bright light. There are certain varieties of tarragon, the French one is best for culinary purposes while the Russian one is bland so it is more appropriate for salads.
8. Lemon balm – The lemon flavor is a pleasant scent in every home, especially during the winter. Take some cuttings in spring or fall. You need to provide a warm place with bright but indirect light for the lemon balm. It may take 3-4 weeks until the cuttings develop roots. Regularly change the water if the plant is inside or you can keep it outside while the weather is still warm. While outside you can avoid the mildew that the lemon balm experiences. Bring the cuttings indoor when they are well established. You can use the leaves for making tea.
9. Rosemary – It takes longer to root the semi-woody cuttings of rosemary but if you take some new shoots in the spring, they may grow faster. This is an excellent indoor plant that should be kept on a sunny spot.
10. Thyme – You need new grown cuttings that are green in color. The old one is brown and stiff so that it can take a longer time to root. So, choose some in the mid-spring or early summer before it starts flowering. Put the cuttings in water immediately because they can dry out very fast. Even spray the part which is above the water. When it grows, cut the stems to improve branching.