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Preparing Herbs For Winter

Posted by veggieholic 5 (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 18, 11 at 10:18

I have a lot of different herbs planted directly in the ground, here in zone 5 Indiana. I know my oreganos and mints and thymes will overwinter in this climate, they are each three years old. I wonder though, is it wise to harvest them now before it freezes, or will they fare better through winter if I leave them alone? I also have some new herbs this year: rosemary, tarragon, savory, sage, lemon verbena, lemon balm, and lavender. I have tried growing rosemary, tarragon, and savory before and they did not survive winter. Last year I tried to pot up my rosemary and tarragon to bring them inside, but they did not survive being transplanted into pots. What's the best course of action? Thanks in advance for your help!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

I too have a lot of herbs planted in the ground, my all-time favorite being the French Tarragon. I use it a lot and and I moved it with me when I moved from the south (zone 7) to the west (zone 5b-6a). It was in the ground but was only a year old, so it wasn't very big yet. I potted it up into a large pot, making sure to get all of the roots I possibly could, and brought it cross-country.
I planted it into the ground as soon as the soil was warm enough, but I was so worried about it surviving the winter here. It grew really well all summer and when it began to get cold, I piled mulch on it pretty heavily.
By the end of the winter (a very long, cold, snowy winter) most of the mulch had settled or blown off and so I was sure that I'd lost my beautiful Tarragon.
In the spring, the sage and chives were up and blooming, but no Tarragon. So I finally gave up on it.
One day in July I noticed tiny little sprouts coming up and I couldn't believe that plant had been asleep for so long.
It began to grow faster and faster and now it is such a pretty plant. I've pinched on it all summer for tea and for cooking. Still, cold weather is coming soon, and I worry again about losing it.
So my advice would be to mulch, mulch, mulch, and remove the mulch as soon as the weather is warm enough.
Oh, and cross your fingers.

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

Thank you!

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

I'm in zone 6 NE Oklahoma & lemon verbena dies over winter if left outside. I was successful in potting it up & bringing it in over winter last year, although it looks like dead twigs until spring.

Lemon balm is next to impossible to kill once it gets established. I bought one little plant a few years ago & now have 7 or 8 huge bushes, with more little ones I dig up whenever I see them.

Sage is another that's almost un kill able. My mom dumped a pot one fall in the corner of one of her beds, it now takes up about 4 sqft.

I'm not successful at keeping rosemary or lavender more than one year, although I've known others that can.

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

Lemon verbena is only hardy to about zone 7 (it still drops its leaves here but they come back in mid Spring). Rosemary is also hardy to about Zone 7 (6B for the Rosemary 'Arps'). Outside, I have hedges of them, but have never had success with Rosemary indoors--sorry (it happens to be my favorite herb by the way). Lemon balm is very cold hardy, tarragon I don't grow (don't like the taste). Not sure about the lavender but think it's too cold for them (Zone 6 might be their limit)--another one of my favorites. Good luck!

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

I bring lemon verbena indoors putting it in the north window of a semi-heated garage (50-60). Then I neglect it but it should be watered about once a month. The leaves will drop but have faith. When it's warm enough in the spring, put it outside and water it. I live in NH, zone 5.

A long time ago, a great herb gardener told me that some plants have to have a winter's rest. Tarragon is one of them. I, too, have found that it's one of the last herbs to start growing in the spring. This year mine was a small shrub. It does a lot better in a very sunny location.

I think the lavender variety I have is munstead. It doesn't get too big. I grew it from a 6-pack of starters I got at the farm store.

I have a friend who does well with rosemary indoors. The tender perennials don't need to hibernate for the winter. She puts a humidifer next to her plant so it never dries out. I had good luck putting mine in the bathroom. It didn't get a lot of light (north window) but I think the humidity helped.

I assume you have winter savory and not summer savory. It's hardy here. I did well with Greek oregano for a couple of years and then lost it. Hope my new plant survives the winter ... it's not in a sunny location.

I had a small hedge of lemon balm that I grew from seed but one winter it died out. Again, it wasn't in a sunny location and the soil was poor. You might find seedlings growing next year if you let the plant flower.

Happy gardening!

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

I haven't had a lot of luck with lavenders here but I think it is because they don't like to have wet feet in winter...need good drainage so I elevated them in my beds with better soil. I have also had trouble keeping rosemary over winter here for the same reason I think!
I am planning to dig up & bring in one of the 3 rosemaries that I have to see if it will make it. I plan on filling the pot with a cactus type soil for better drainage. My MIL just killed a beautiful potted rosemary by overwatering!

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

You did not mention if your savory was summer or winter savory. Summer will die at the end of the season but winter will live over and can form a small woody bush.

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

Zone 5 might be too cold to overwinter rosemary; however, it's very easy to propagate. If you take some cuttings from a healthy plant in the spring and pot them up outdoors for summer and fall, in the late autumn you could bring your potted cuttings indoors for the winter(which will be a nice size by now)and then put outdoors in the spring. Your plants will never get really large this way, but you will have a steady supply of rosemary year round. Indoors for the winter, my rosemary seems to like a pseudo 'winter' setting where it can rest a bit - medium light, cooler temp, and don't over water.

Winter savory should be okay in your zone... if you have it in a pot, try tucking it up against the house or in a sheltered spot with a thick, dry mulch to prolong kitchen use through the winter.

For the late tarragon, if you give it a top dressing of compost or well rotted manure in spring it will love you for it by sprouting earlier and producing a bushier plant. Tarragon will do best in a sheltered spot over winter as well...

RE: Preparing Herbs For Winter

I love the smell of lemon balm when I am working in the garden, but I wish I had never planted it. I have a huge bed,about 5x60 that it is threatening to overtake. I have pulled it out by the arm loads, and in a short time, I see a bunch of new babies coming back.

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