Lavender, oregano, mint and thyme come back strong spring after spring if you prepare them for the cold weather to come. These and other Mediterranean herbs are hardy and tolerate low temperatures. They like dry conditions, so soggy ground or repeated freezing and thawing can damage them.
Keep your herbs happy so they come back in the spring, bigger and better than ever.
How to care for hardy herbs:
- Trim now, prune later. Give plants a light trim to tidy them up. Leave an umbrella of branches intact until early spring to help shelter the plant from ice and drying wind. Even if the plant dies back to the ground, new shoots will grow from the roots.
- Mulch the root area. Spread a 2”-3” layer of light-textured mulch around your plants. Winter mulches keep the soil from freezing and thawing over and over again, which is destructive on shallow roots.
- Tame the wind. Herbs that hold some leaves through winter — for example, sage and winter savory — will endure the cold better if you give them seasonal shelter from frigid winds. Make a shelter with cloth, burlap or even bubble wrap stapled to wood stakes in a box or teepee shape.
- Keep them sleeping. Spells of mild winter weather trick plants into thinking it’s spring – which can kill them. Insulate plants from misleading weather by loosely mounding branches of pines, junipers and other evergreens over dormant herbs.
- Spend the winter indoors. Repot herbs and bring them inside to use for cooking. Move them outdoors and plant them in the garden in spring.