Cutting back herb plants or not???

kentgaOctober 27, 2008

I live in metro Atlanta and my herb garden is 3 years old and is planted in the ground. Some of the herbs have gotten "stringy" and only the ends of the stems produce herbs as would be expected. The bottom half (or more) of the plants are dead-looking and some have outgrown their space. The herbs have lived without requiring replanting and come back every year and I'd like to keep it that way. My question is can I cut back (without damaging them) any or all of the following and, if so, what time of year and do I cut back at the ground level?

Thyme- mostly non-producing stems. Few thyme leaves





Rosemary- It lives year round-- may just trim & cut back

Also, for what its worth, I bought some Mexican tarragon plants and they die with freezing weather and come back every year. I've never had any luck with French tarragon.

Thanks to all,


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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

After oregano dies back to the ground with the freezing temperatures, the dead stalks can be trimmed back to just above the ground. Regularly clip oregano throughout the growing season for best appearance and production.

Sage, thyme, rosemary, and lavender are all woody plants. Cut back no more than 1/3 at a time. Read up on pruning. The same techniques used for larger trees and shrubs can be applied to these smaller plants if you are trying to reshape. Search back through old posts of this forum for lots of specific pruning and clipping information.

I believe you can treat marjoram the same as oregano. I've never grown it so others will have to comment more.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 3:23PM
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laxfan(z7 GA)

I also live in metro Atlanta, and I think that FataMorgana sums it up very well. Yes, you can treat the marjoram like the oregano. I wonder if your thyme is sitting in waterlogged soil, or is being shaded out by something larger.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:49PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Just a word on rosemary. If it is growing in the ground it can be treated much more brutally than lavender. You can cut back into old wood and it will grow away again. My rosemary bush has been cut way back many times otherwise it gets leggy and spreads itself over other plants.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Salvia I cut back to just above the newest leaves as low on the plants as they are seen (usually about 6-8" above the ground every spring. Lavender I do the same with (in a rounded fashion) to keep them from becoming woody in the for me. Some are done every spring and some ever other depending on how bad the winter affects them or just too keep them manicured and neat based on where they are located.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 5:09PM
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