Thyme, Sage, Mint: Why Don't They Come Back In The Spring?

FlyingPenguinMay 4, 2011


Has anyone had any success with getting either thyme, sage, or mint to survive a MN winter and come back in the spring? According to what I've read, these herbs are supposed to be winter-hardy (in fact, everyone says that once you plant mint, you'll never be rid of it...!). But I've tried twice now and each time nothing comes back in the spring. Is there a trick to getting them to come back? Could I be doing something wrong? (I have all three in a self-contained permanent planter in my back yard.)

My oregano and chives come back just fine each spring, but these others don't seem to want to. Anyone have any advice?


Dave J

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Thyme and mint come back just fine for me. Sage....not so much.

Maybe it's the variety. Maybe it's the location in your garden. Maybe it's how much you mulch. Heck....I dunno.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:06PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Can you describe what you mean by a self-contained permanent planter? Is it a raised planter or bed. If the plants are near the edge of a raised bed they may not be getting enough winter protection.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 10:49PM
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It's a raised barrel planter. Thanks for responding. Can you recommend anything in particular that might help?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 9:26PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Is it possible to move the barrel into a garage over winter? That might help you gain some extra hardiness. Plants in containers don't have the protection that plants in the ground do.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 12:34PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

If you can't move your barrel you could try placing bags of leaves around and over it for extra winter protection. Another option would be potting up small pots of your herbs and keeping them in the garage over the winter. I have not had much success trying to overwinter herbs indoors. Rosemary survives but the others die.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 1:18PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I guess I hadn't considered that they might be less protected in the planter than they'd be in the ground. I might have to re-think what gets planted where this year. :)

(For what it's worth, I had great success with overwintering some of my herbs indoors this year in my hydroponic Aerogarden. I'm really pleased with how this worked out, as I too have had trouble keeping herbs alive indoors in the winter in past years. However, I didn't do this with the thyme, sage, or mint, as I had hopes of them surviving the winter outside...)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 5:05PM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

The rule of thumb over on the bonsai forum is that you plant something two zones hardier that you otherwise would when overwintering outdoors in pots. Therefore, in a zone 4 area, you'd need plants rated down to zone 2 to survive in your set-up.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 12:47PM
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