Plant a Winter Herb Pot

by Kim Nichols Messer

                  Herbs can be grown easily in a container.  I like to start a couple of herb pots each season.  In the fall and winter, I prefer the savory herbs.  You may use almost any type of container.  A lightweight plastic container is good if you need to move the pot around as the light changes during the season.  A 15-gallon container will fit six herb plants easily.  Most herbs really only need about six inches of soil below to spread out their roots.  A large terra cotta pot is a beautiful addition to a porch or patio but will be a bit heavy to move.  A 16.5-inch pot will hold six herb plants.  You may also plant herbs in a window box.  A smallish version will easily hold four herb plants.  I have parsley in a large mason jar in the kitchen window.  A small Bay Laurel plant will do well in a small pot outside in the sunshine.
                   Use good organic potting soil in a pot with several holes for good drainage.  Then choose your favorite herb combinations.  As the weather cools, I will be roasting root vegetables and making soups.  Some of my favorite winter herbs are Sage, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme and of course Parsley.  Try roasting some beets with olive oil and rosemary.  Or butternut squash with sage.   Thyme is great with chicken and roasted vegetables.  Sage and Bay leaves are great in soups and stews.  Herbs are so easy to grow and so economical to have nearby for use in your cooking.  Fresh herbs will really enhance the flavor of your dish.  Give it a try, grow some herbs.

Give Mom the Gift of Herbs

 by Kim Nichols Messer


        It is important to celebrate our moms all year long, but on May 14th we want them to feel extra special.  Consider an herb pot.  You may select one already potted, we have many to choose from, or design your own.  A 19 inch pot will hold six herb plants easily depending on the growth pattern of the herb.  An Herb de Provence pot will provide an excellent source for seasoning many kitchen creations from baked chicken to roasted vegetables.  Using a 19 inch clay pot, put drainage material in the bottom and add a good organic soil.  The Provence herbs of your choice may be planted together.  I would put Basil in the middle as an anchor plant for some height. Oregano, Thyme and Sage on the outside ring, and Prostrate Rosemary can dangle down the side of the pot. The Basil will also repel mosquitoes as an added bonus.
       You may do a combination mint pot for cool and refreshing summer beverages.  Peppermint, Spearmint and Chocolate Mint are all fun and easy to grow.  You may do a pot with Fennel and Lemon Grass sharing the center of the pot as an anchor, then add Garlic Chives and Thai Basil, or Coriander and Cilantro for a stir fry or soup pot.  Lemon Grass will do double duty and also repel mosquitoes.
        A simple pot of Basil will provide almost endless pesto opportunities for al fresco dining.  And now that tomatoes are ready, my favorite combination, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, some olive oil and cracked pepper… Yum!
       Give the gift of herbs.  They are easy to grow and low maintenance. Sunshine and well drained soil will give you happy plants to cook with and share with others, Good gardening!



 Herbs are so easy to grow in the Houston area!

This category includes plants that at some time in history have been considered valuable for seasoning, medicine, fragrance, or general household use. As you look through this list of plants, you can recognize certain herbs because they bear the species name officinalis– meaning sold in shops , edible, medicinal, recognized in the pharmacopoeia. Today harvest is used almost entirely for seasoning foods.Herbs are versatile. Some creep along the ground, making fragrant carpet. Others are shrublike. Many make attractive pot plants. However, many herbs do have a weedy look, especially next to regular ornamental plants. Many herbs are hardy and adaptable. Although hot, dry, sunny conditions with poor but well-drained soil are usually considered best for most herbs, some thrive in shady, moist locations with light soil rich in humus.

Many of the commonly grown herbs are interesting enough that they make nice additions to any landscaped area, not just confined to the vegetable garden!

Anise ! Basil Bay Bee Balm
Borage Burnet Chamomile Caraway
Catnip Cayenne Chervil Chinese Celery
Chives Comfrey Coriander Costmary
Dill Fennel Foxglove Garlic
Geranium Ginger Horehound Horseradish
Hyssop Lambs Ear Lavender Lemon Balm
Lemon Grass Lemon Verbena Marigold Mint
Oregano Parsley Pennyroyal Pyrethrum
Rosemary Rue Sage Santolina
Sassafras Savory Shallots Southwood
Tansy Tarragon Thyme Vanilla Grass
Watercress Yarrow


Let’s Talk About November

By: Pat Cordray


Painted Lady Sweet peas at The Nursery
Painted Lady sweet peas at The Nursery

Okay, this is the first time that I have to say this, but I will repeat it each month until spring has sprung.  You ready? Here you go:  What to do if there is a freeze warning for our area?  Water your plants; this protects the roots, so water thoroughly, not just for 60 seconds.   Cover your plants tenting the fabric to the ground then secure it with pegs.  Once the weather warms up remove the fabric.  For hanging baskets, take them in or set them on the ground, water and cover them.  For plants in containers, take them in or water and cover.  These instructions are for plants that are tender to the cold.  This doesn’t freeze proof your tender plants but it will help add just a little warmth and that may be all that is needed to save a plant.  It is better to be prepared than scrambling around at the last minute trying to find your cold weather gardening supplies.  So, place your N-Sulate cloth and pegs where you can find them.  No worries if you don’t have any, we have all you need in stock at the nursery now.    You’re ready!

November can be a great gardening month here, especially for certain flowering plants; like bulbs, annuals, herbs, and camellias.  I love all this beautiful color, let’s get the planting started!

Tulips and paper whites at The Nursery
Tulips and paper whites at The Nursery
Aphrodite amaryllis in my garden

Bulbs are here and are ready to be planted.  For forcing inside your home, ziva narcissus, amaryllis, and hyacinths will look beautiful and give your home a festive look for the holiday season. The ziva’s will bloom in 3-4 weeks, the amaryllis bulbs take 3-8 weeks to bloom (depending on variety), and the hyacinths will bloom in 6-8 weeks. You can stagger your plantings to keep fresh flowers blooming in your home all season. When the amaryllis are finished blooming indoors you can replant them in your garden for blooms the following spring. Fun, fun, fun! But don’t stop there, we have many different amaryllis bulbs, tulips, ranunculus, daffodils, Dutch iris, leucojum, lycoris, and other varieties of narcissus besides ziva’s that are just as fun!

When to plant your bulbs?  Tulips can be planted from mid-December through mid-January, they must be refrigerated for 4-6 weeks at about 45 degrees before planting.  We keep our tulips and hyacinths in the fridge so they will be ready to plant at the right time.  Daffodils, Dutch iris, leucojum, narcissus, hyacinths, and ranunculus can be planted this month.  To learn more about bulbs, come to our Bulb Class on Saturday, November 19th.  This class will be hands on, we are going to layer the bulbs in a pot and top it with annuals.  You won’t want to miss this one.

Nasturtiums in my garden
Nasturtiums in my garden
Julep with Amazon dianthus in my garden
Julep with Amazon dianthus in my garden

How about beautiful color now? Cool weather plants like pansies, lobelia, alyssum, violas, stock, calendulas, snapdragons, English daisies, cyclamen, phlox, petunias, nasturtiums and dianthus can add wonderful fall and winter color to your containers and landscapes. Did I mention how beautiful dianthus looks with my dog, Julep? What do you think? Don’t forget to add sweet peas, foxglove, holly hocks, and delphinium for early spring color, to your garden, there is no time like the present. Full sun, well-draining soil, water, and Microlife are all that is needed to keep these cool weather plants blooming for months.

This would also be a good time to plant herbs in your garden; the cold weather makes for strong roots.  Oregano, salad brunet, winter savory, chamomile, dill, rosemary, and fennel are just a few of a long list of herbs to consider planting now.  Most herb plants need full sun and well-draining soil. Give your plants plenty of room in the garden, when you buy herbs in a 4” container you may think, “Oh, good a small plant”, but no, no, no, herbs are bigger than you think. Herbs will add a whole new dimension to your garden with fragrant leaves that attract beneficial insects and many can be used to enhance the flavor of your meals. Fertilizer is only needed a couple of times of year. Oh, so easy and very fragrant.

Bonanza Camellia at The Nursery
Bonanza Camellia at The Nursery

Camellias have some of the most amazing blooms of any shrub.  Can you believe that the blooms are prettier than the pictures? They are, wow!  Camellias are slow growing evergreen shrubs that bloom from about October through March depending on the variety.  Sasanqua camellias bloom in the fall and have small leaves and flowers, usually the flower forms are single, double or semidouble. Sasanqua camellias grow to about 10-12 feet tall for upright varieties and 2-5 feet tall for spreading varieties. Japonica camellias have larger

Nuccio's Gem Camellia in my garden
Nuccio’s Gem Camellia in my garden

leaves and usually have bigger blooms. The forms of the Japonica Camellia blooms are usually single, semidouble, anemone, peony, rose, or formal double. Japonica camellias start off as shrubs, growing to about 6-12 feet tall and wide, but can slowly become a tree reaching 20 feet tall.

Camellias are easy to grow here and are just too beautiful to not be included in your garden.  For the healthiest plants, with the most blooms, give your camellias good organic soil that drains well, regular water, and a fertilizer for acid loving plants.  Protect them from our afternoon sun and strong winds and prune them at the right time, just after they finish blooming. Your camellias will be simply beautiful.

November is so alive with vibrant color to enjoy,



What is an Herb?

We always like to focus on a particular subject for each Newsletter that goes out every month. This month, we decided that April would be all about herbs. So, as I began digging into this subject at the nursery and researching each herb. I began to  realize how extremely fascinating they are. I also realized I didn’t fully understand what an herb is. I know I like to cook with them, I know how to pair them with yummy meats but that was about it.  I soon realized herbs were much bigger than what I ever imagined.  So I dared to ask the question “What makes a plant an herb”?

At first, I was incredibly intimidated because I thought the answer was going to be too complex. Luckily, to my surprise  it was rather simple. You see there is no number of how many plants are considered herbs.

That statement alone made me become extremely captivated and very curious as to what research we have on certain herbs. That is when I decided I needed to share and hopefully inspire you to research for yourself to get a better understanding of herbs for when you are cooking or when you have an ache or two.  I have put together a list of Herbs and what we know as to why they are herbs. Feel free to share away and feel free to start researching for yourself all the good that herbs can do for you. Also please note and this is very important always, rely on conventional medicine for emergency treatment. If this type of care is available, use it. When a health condition is an immediate threat, go to the hospital not your garden. 

Let’s start with one of my favorite culinary herbs. Cilantro! I use this herb a lot. In my pinto beans, in my guacamole, in my rice, on my chicken etc..etc. Can you tell I am Hispanic? I never thought Cilantro could be used for anything other than food. However, I discovered that many people use Cilantro medicinally and also use it in perfumes. Apparently,  it has a very calming effect and is used for aroma therapy.

The most amazing research that has been done on Cilantro is, it is very effective for toxic metal cleansing. This herb is a powerful, natural cleansing agent. How cool is that?  The chemical compounds in cilantro attache to toxic metals and loosen them from the tissue. Many people suffering from mercury exposure notice a reduction of feeling of disorientation after consuming large and regular amounts of cilantro over an extended period. Amazing!  Check out Omura Y, Beckman SL. Role of mercury (Hg) in resistant infections & effective treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis and Herpes family viral infections (and potential treatment for cancer) by removing localized Hg deposits with Chinese parsley and delivering effective antibiotics using various drug uptake enhancement methods.Acupunct Electrother Res. 1995 Aug-Dec;20(3-4):195-229. to learn more about this research.


Vick’s Plant

Next on my list is Vick’s plant. This plant can be boiled in water and when inhaled can open up the lungs and nasal passages. The leaves can also be crushed and put into oil or petroleum jelly and rub on areas of the body that are sore. However, never use this treatment on open sores or cuts. Vick’s plant is also a Mosquito repellent. So just rubbing the leaves on your skin could possibly prevent mosquitos from eating you alive.


On to the next one,


Hyssop herb is considered to be a sacred herb. It is an herb that is mentioned in the bible several times. This herb name is of the greek origin. It was used in cleaning sacred places such as when Christ was crucified. There are three types of Hyssop known by their red, blue and white flowers. Hyssop makes an aromatic tea from the fresh or dried leaves and flowers that eases with digestion. The fresh leaves are also a yummy and color booster to   salads.  A tea or tincture blend  (liquid extracts made from herbs that you take orally) of anise hyssop and hyssop combined soothes and helps to heal irritated lung tissue during a respiratory infection. I included a recipe to try out.


‘Infuse a quarter of an ounce of dried hyssop flowers in a pint of boiling water for ten minutes; sweeten with honey, and take a wine glassful three times a day, for debility of the chest. It is also considered a powerful vermifuge.’ (Old Cookery Book.)


We are just getting started:


Sweet marjoram, also known as knotted marjoram, is one of the most popular Mediterranean herbs grown for its culinary and medicinal values.  It has delicate sweet-flavor, and subtle yet(spicy) taste.. The herb contains many notable phyto-nutrients ( a substance found in certain plants which is believed to be beneficial to human health and help prevent various diseases.) In case you were wondering what that word meant and also includes minerals, and vitamins that are essential for health and wellness. Sweet marjoram is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K.  Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotropic (Describing any drug etc. that is attracted to, and targets bone) Another word you might have wanted to completely understand so I added the definition. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. What an amazing find and holistic approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease.

The More I research and begin to discover all of the uses for herbs makes me appreciate what I do and where I work. Let me continue,


Lavender, is very well known. I am pretty sure you have come across its scent in various soaps and candles and perfumes. It is known for it’s aroma therapy. But that is just hitting the surface. Internally, Lavender is believed to be of benefit for so many  problems, including stress, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, headaches, migraines, insomnia, depression, colds, digestion, flatulence, upset stomach, liver and gallbladder problems, nervousness, loss of appetite, and as a breath freshener and mouthwash. Wow, talk about a herb for lots of aliments.  For inhalation purposes, boil 2 cups of water, add 2 drops of essential oil, and inhale the steam and exhale the stress. Externally, Lavender oil is the safest essential oil and can be used full-strength on the skin. According to research it works so well and can be applied directly to your cuts, scrapes, wounds, burns, bee, wasp, and insect stings, rashes, muscle aches, rheumatism, arthritis, cold sores, canker sores, blisters, bruises, athlete’s foot, and massaged directly into the temples during headache or migraine issues. You will need to do more research because this herb is the herb to really know and fully utilize.


ChamomilleThe Chamomile plant’s healing properties come from its daisy-like flowers, which contain Essential oils. Chamomile has been used forever in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as an anti-inflamatory, to name only a few therapeutic uses. Chamomile may be used internally or externally. Extensive scientific research over the past 20 years has confirmed many of the traditional uses for the plant, including antipeptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergenic activity. I have included all of the definitions to all of those A words. Because if you are like me, i had to look up at least 3 of those words.

antipeptic: Inhibiting Pepsin which is the chief digestive enzyme in the stomach, which breaks down proteins into polypeptides which are a linear organic polymer consisting of a large number of amino-acid residues bonded together in a chain, forming part of (or the whole of) a protein molecule.

antispasmodic: used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.

antipyretic: used to prevent or reduce fever.

Now that we know what those words mean, you can see now how amazing chamomile is for so many reasons.


mint (1)Ok last on my list for today is Mint. Mint has incredible culinary uses. I could post a million recipes but you can easily Google that. I specifically, want to address spearmint and peppermint. Both of which are very yummy and added to so many products.  Peppermint leaf tea is used to treat indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, colds, headache and cramps.  Peppermint and spearmint are known to restore the functions of the stomach, promotes digestion, stops vomiting, cures the hiccups, flatulent colic, hysterical depressions, and other such complaints. The fresh herb was thought to be especially useful in treating Cholera in children. Packaged herbal teas are available in any supermarket. However you are a gardener who should be growing tons of herbs so it is simple to prepare teas from dried or fresh mint leaves that you’ve grown yourself or purchased in bulk. To make two cups of tea, place 2 teaspoons of dried mint leaf (or 2 tablespoons of fresh) in a tea ball, place the ball in a heated teapot, pour in 2 cups of boiling water, and steep, covered, for 10 minutes.


Well it is a start- just a beginning but I feel more informed and have a better understanding as to how incredible herbs really are. I will be trying a few of these remedies and maybe write an article based on my own personal findings as to if it works. Feel free to come by the nursery and visit our Herb area. We have just about everything you could think of. I feel inspired to pick out several different herbs and have a container garden on my back porch. I hope you are feeling inspired too.



Please note: The information provided is for educational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified health-care practitioner.


Scientific Name:  (Hyssopus officinalis)

Perennial Herb

Full to Part Sun

Gets Big 2-4 ‘ tall

Drought Tolerant

Loved by Bees and Butterflies

Growing hyssop as a garden plant is not only easy but can also attract wildlife like butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. In addition, hyssop leaves can be harvested for use in salads, soups and other dishes.



Cuban Oregano

Scientific Name: Plectranthus amboinicus

LIGHT: Part Sun, Sun

TYPE: Herb

HEIGHT: 1 to 3 feet

WIDTH: To 18 inches wide

FLOWER COLOR: Blue, Purple, White


PROBLEM SOLVERS: Drought Tolerant

ZONES: 9-11

Cuban oregano could be called an herbal smorgasbord. Other common names for it include Mexican mint, Spanish thyme, and Indian mint — an indication of its complex flavor. Cuban oregano has fuzzy succulent leaves on a plant that grows 12-18 inches tall and wide

Sweet Marjoram

Growing Cultures

Outdoors, in containers, and hydroponic cultures.

Plant Height

Marjoram usually grows to a height of 24 to 36 inches (60 – 90cm).

Plant Spacing

Marjoram plants should be spaced between 15 and 18 inches (38 – 45 cm) apart.

Preferred pH Range

Marjoram will grow in a relatively wide pH range between 6.1 (mildly acidic) and 8.5 (alkaline) with a preferred range between 6.5 and 7.5.

Soil Requirements

Marjoram prefers a rich, loamy, well-drained soil.

Sun & Lighting Requirements

Marjoram grown outdoors prefers full sun.

Water Requirements

Water regularly, being careful not to overwater. Allow soil to go almost dry between watering, then soak thoroughly.


Vicks Plant

A perennial plant with fuzzy camphor/eucalyptus scented leaves that smell like Vick’s Vap-o-Rub or mentholatum when crushed. A relative of “Swedish Ivy” and “Creeping Charlie”. The name comes from Greek plectron-spur, and anthos-ßower, alluding to the spurred ßowers of the type of species.

A light green succulent, with opposite leaves up to 3 1/2 inches long, that are densely covered with short hairs. The plants will reach up to 30 inches tall and the lower stems can become very woody. They are easy to grow and are hardy in USDA zones 9-12. Blooms in early spring and again in the fall, with purple ßowers, individual ßowers may reach 1/2 inch in length. Happy in full sun to partial shade or high interior lighting with a well-drained soil mix.

Vicks plant is propagated from herbaceous stem cuttings at any time during the growing season.


Type: Herb

Garden habitat: Garden, container.

Exposure: Full to Partial shade.

Care: Needs good drainage.




Scientific Name: Lavandula

Growing Cultures : Outdoors, in containers, and hydroponics.

Plant Height: Lavender usually grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches (30 -45cm).

Plant Spacing: Lavender plants should be spaced between 18 and 24 inches (45 and 60 cm) apart.

Preferred pH Range: Lavender will grow in a relatively wide pH range between 6.1 (mildly acidic) and 8.5 (alkaline) with a preferred range between 6.5 and 7.5

Soil Requirements: Lavender prefers a light, well-drained, deep and not overly rich soil.

Sun & Lighting Requirements: Lavender grown outdoors prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade.


Lavender is known for it’s scent but also for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, expectorant, stree-relieving, antiseptic and analgesic properties.

It’s calming scent makes it soothing to the respiratory system and it is often suggested to be diffused to calm coughs and colds.