Keeping lavender and rosemary alive during winter

s10sleeper(5b)November 17, 2013

I live in zone 5b and for the last 3 years I had a lavender and a rosemary plant growing on the south side of my house which did fairly well though the lavender never blossomed. I had to move out of the house to another town 20 miles away and so potted them into large pots. Needless to say, they did not survive the winter as there is alot of shade here at the new house.

This year I bought some rosemary plants, and a couple of lavender, one was a hybrid which is supposed to be more hardy, but already seems to have died. I have them in large pots and experimented with the soil, using alot of sand in one, some with rocks, some with potting soil and all with perlite and brought the Ph level to about 7. My concern is that I don't want them to die, especially since one I started from seed was successful. I am wondering if I need to overwinter them all indoors, and if so, if using grow lamps in the light fixture will help and also if running the ceiling fan will help for ventilation. I have a few outdoors still but need to figure out if I should bring them in as in order to get adequate sun they are out in the middle of the yard with nothing to block the cold north winds.

It has been fairly warm so far, but I want to make sure they stay alive. I maintain the room at 70 degrees and it has an east and south facing window that I keep the blinds up and the lights on with a flood grow light and a 60 watt incandescent on for 12-14 hours a day.

I have also moved my lemon balm into the room and they are doing great and have propagated a rosemary cutting successfully so far in there.

Are there any tips anyone could give me on this?

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How are your plants doing?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 10:14PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Sleeper, here's my experience with lavender and rosemary in St Louis.

Indoors they do not do well, get spindly and mildewed. The worst part is they seem to make it thru the winter and then succumb to mildew in late winter when it's too cold to put them out, but your hopes were high. This happened several years in a row.

Outdoors lavender does well here (we get down to -3F for a few days most years). We may be a bit warmer than you-- this has been zone 6 winters most years recently.

Needs the hottest sun you have to make beautiful blooms and scent. Check out somewhere like High Country Gardens for some types hardy to zone 5. Make sure they are not wet in winter.

Rosemary I had luck with for 3 or four years planted under the eaves (shelter from rain in winter) and against the house wall for warmth. This was a cold hardy type and got very large. A re-landscaping project tore it out, and I haven't been able to replace it.

Two years ago I bought a cold-hardy type from High Country Gardens and planted it out in the open. It did all right the first winter, but I think it died this (very nasty cold) winter. HCG has two cold-hardy types (they're in Colorado). These should do okay in normal zone 5 winters, especially if you can replicate the up against the house trick that worked so well for me. You might have to replace each time there's a really nasty winter.

Rosemary have to be dry in winter.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Hi s10sleeper,

I've had good luck with a rosemary plant in a pot, trained to be a standard. I bring it in in the fall and park it on my sunny south kitchen window. It gets a little leggy in the winter, reaching for the light, but I just prune it in the spring when I set it out (and save the clippings for cooking). It's going on 3 years now and is a pretty potted plant, kind of bonsai-like.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 5:15PM
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