Munstead Lavender Trimming and Indoor Overwintering Advice for Herbs
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Carol A. Labuda
Posted on: April 4, 2001

I have two clumps of lavender and the stalks are still standing and stayed that way over the Winter. I am in Zone 5, Cleveland, Ohio. I have never grown lavender before and wondered if you could tell me if I should wait until I see new growth near the ground in Spring or what should I do about the stalks still standing? None of them are brown. Do I trim them down or leave them just the way they are? From where does new growth begin with lavender?

I was into the Q & A section and one answer said to wait until you see new growth near the ground and then cut the stalks down 1/3. Is this correct. I adore the scent of lavender so much and want to make sure my two clumps continue to grow well for me. I would so much appreciate your expert advise on what to do with my two clumps.

If your clumps of lavender are still green, all the snow we had this winter may have protected the clumps from winter damage and since they are young plants, they would then start to grow from the top. It now becomes a question of how tall you would like your lavenders to become. They might also sprawl sideways and crowd plants beside them. The winter damage might also take some time to show up, again because the snow kept the plants at a steady low temperature, so caution is advised. Do wait until you see new growth starting before doing any cutting. If most of the base part of the plants seems to be alive, you decide how low to cut it down, just don’t cut more than one third of last year’s growth.

Also, is there a good book available that would give me all this information about growing herbs indoors and out?

"Growing Herbs from Seed, Cuttings and Root" by Thomas DeBaggio (Richters catalogue #B4280) is excellent since if you know how to grow the babies, the adults are a piece of cake. My favorite is "Encyclopedia of Herbs and their Uses" by Deni Bown – wonderful on culture, harvest and use (Richters catalogue #B2730). There is also "Herbs in Pots" by Rob Proctor and David Macke (#B5559) which discusses wintering plants indoors.

Also, I had a number of herbs growing in containers outside over the summer. I brought them indoors and kept them watered, but they all turned brown and seemed to die over the Winter. I had sage, thyme, lemon verbena, and mint. What did I do wrong? Are any of these herbs perennials and should I have planted them in the ground and left them over the winter?

Except for lemon verbena, the herbs you kept indoors would have overwintered planted out of doors – that is if you mean the garden sage by your sage. The catalogue lists the zones in which a perennial plant can survive out of doors. Opposite the latin name is a series of codes where "A" refers to annual, "B" to biennial and "P" to perennial. Beside that is a "Z" for zones and it gives the zones in which the plant will overwinter or survive the summer. For example for Garden Sage it says "P Z5-9" and then codes for uses. This means the plant is a perennial, and survives planted out of doors in zones 5 to 9.

The lemon verbena loses its leaves in the fall and if kept cool and slightly moist during the winter it will reawaken in early spring with new growth. When it does that it needs good light such as found in an unobstructed South window or another window augmented by a two tube 4 foot flurouescent light fixture. You should have been able to overwinter the other plants indoors as well and the most likely reason they died was lack of sufficient light. The same type of light as described above should work for them as well. Leave the lights on for at least 14 hours per day to make up for lack of intensity.

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