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Overwintering Perennial Herbs

Posted by gardenathome 9B/10 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 21, 10 at 8:48

Hi, everyone! We know it may be too soon to ask but we wanted to be prepared. How can we overwinter perennial herbs within zone 9/10 where the winters are quite mild? Specifically, sage/rosemary/lemon balm/tarragon. All grown outside in the garden as of spring this year.

Do we have to cut the plant down to a stalk or leave it as is? Do we water it once a week in the winter? Cover it with mulch? Any advice would be appreciated. Many thanks, guys! :-)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

Garden sage and lemon balm overwinter in my gardens which are in the frozen cold of Western NY State with no special winter prep. Good winter drainage is key.

Do NOT cut your woody plants to the ground.

Rosemary *almost* survives here with no winter protection so I expect that to be a non-issue for you as well.

Someone with tarragon experience will have to comment on that for you.

FataMorgana


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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

  • Posted by chudak 10 San Diego (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 21, 10 at 12:39

I'm in zone 10. My tarragon never needed any attention. I just left it outside and it did just fine. I'd imagine lemon balm is the same.

Like fata said, don't cut down your woody plants (e.g. rosemary). They should do just fine.

It depends on what kind of sage you have. Some sages drop all their leaves and flowers in the winter and you are left with just bare semi-woody branches. You can safely cut these down to the ground as they won't put out any new growth the following year. The plant will re-sprout from the crown with fresh growth.

If the variety of sage you have doesn't drop it's foliage it will do just fine left alone (though you may want to do some pruning in the fall or spring).

I grow many perennial herbs here (thyme, oregano, chives, lavender, rosemary, sage, marjoram) and I don't do anything special to them over the winter to help them survive--they just do.


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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

Hi, Fanta and Chudak! Thank you so much for both of your help! That is good to know. For the sage, it is just common sage. So would that drop its foliage? I guess we'll see! :-)

Also, Chudak, we had planted the sage from seed just spring of this year, is that long enough for it to have produced a crown that it can re-sprout from next spring? The perennial herbs in our garden were all started from seed actually. :-)

Is there any way to overwinter annual herbs in zone 10? :-) I love the basil plants! But they have bolted already...


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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

Sage does not drop it leaves. See following picture from a snowy January day. I got some great shots somewhere of sage covered in ice from an ice storm too. Note this is *not* a purple variety. This is the regular-old garden sage. Purple is its "I'm cold" winter color.

If direct-sown grown sage will come back for me, I don't think you'll have an issue.

FataMorgana


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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

  • Posted by chudak 10 San Diego (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 22, 10 at 14:13

@Fata

http://www.plantdelights.com/Tony/Articles/Salvia-Perennial-Sage/

See Deciduous Herbaceous Salvias at the above link. Some sage (salvia) varieties do drop all their foliage in the winter. The one I had was obviously a deciduous variety. They suggest not cutting back the dead foliage until the spring--however where I am it never freezes so the problem this prevents does not occur here (water in stems freezing).


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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

A great photo, Fanta! It must have been so cold for the plant. Amazing all that snow and it still retained its foliage. I guess the herbs should be safe here in the winter then. :-)

Oh by the way, one of our sage plants have this weird smell to it. It was fine last week... Is that normal?

You guys are awesome. Thanks for all of the help!!! :-)


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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

chudak, I suppose I should have also included the botanical name Salvia officinalis in my posts - though I did make sure to say the common name "garden sage" in each of my posts because I know there are many salvias and not are cold-hardy or even perennials.

gardenathome, I live in western NY state and actually the snow can be a blessing to the plants. If there is snow cover, it can offer some protection from really bitter cold temperatures that we can get. Good water drainage no matter where you live is going to be key in winter and wet seasons for garden sage.

Fatamorgana


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RE: Overwintering Perennial Herbs

Hi, Chudak and Fanta! Thank you again for both of your help! We understand more about perennial herbs now. :-)


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