Potted perennial problems

I live in Chicago, Zone 5. Our freeze free date is May 15. My problem is that I have a bunch of perennials in containers that overwintered outside. I'm waiting and waiting for something to happen with them but they seem kind of dead. Here are three in particular:
http://www.brandylion.com/images/fennel.jpg
This is a fennel plant that grew to about 5 feet tall last summer. I cut it back but after reading the label, I guess I should have extracted the bulb in the fall. I didn't.
http://www.brandylion.com/images/lemon-balm.jpg
This is lemon-balm perennial that was in one of my milk crate containers. So far it isn't showing any sign of growth.
http://www.brandylion.com/images/rosemary-sage.jpg
This is a Rosemary Sage plant that grew to about 4 feet high last summer. I cut it back and it was also outside all winter. I did get cuttings and grew some inside over the winter.
So far, my mints in containers are starting to come up but no other perennials. I'm wondering how long I should wait before trashing these and reusing the containers. I also have a purple coneflower that isn't showing any signs of growth either. I'm kind of bummed about it. Perhaps I should have taken them inside but I really don't have a lot of inside space with sunlight. Would it have been OK to overwinter them inside without any light at all and just periodically water them?
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In article snipped-for-privacy@nospambrandylion.com says...

Oops, I meant Pineapple Sage, not Rosemary Sage. The link still works though.
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says...

summer.
and
Pineapple Sage will not overwinter in Zone 5. The Lemon Balm should come back (based on the experience I've had with chocolate mint overwintered in a small pot) - it will just take awhile longer than if it was planted in the ground.
Cheryl
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Frankly, it might just be too soon still. BUT - where did these over winter? Buried in mulch? In the garage?
Bronze fennel is late to break dormancy for me.
Pineapple sage is tender - more of an annual north of zone 7 (6 if sheltered). Let me know if you are desperate for lemon balm - I have plenty!
Cheryl (NH)
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In article snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net says...

They were outside in their pots. I could bring them inside if that would help but I can't provide light for all the plants. I overwintered a Rosemary bush inside but used fluorescents to keep it alive and it grew all winter. I'm expecting it to get huge by this fall when it's time to bring it in again.

I think mine is just regular fennel. This was in a 20" planter and its roots have taken over the entire planter in just one summer. There was significant freezing however since my garden is on a roof. We had a strange winter that caused 6" of ice to buildup and remain intact all winter. Therefore, the bottom 6" of that fennel pot was in ice for about 3 months. See
http://www.brandylion.com/images/winter_garden1.jpg

Sure, if you're on the north side of Chicago. I usually shop at Farmer's Market on north Elston street. They sell a wide variety of herbs for only $1.49 in the 4" pots. Once that lemon balm got started last year it grew like a mint plant.
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On 5/1/04 2:44 AM, in article snipped-for-privacy@chi.news.speakeasy.net, "Mark Anderson"

Just hold off. For future reference - bury the pots in a holding bed or under a pile of leaves!

That's cheaper than I can mail it to you! Cheryl

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On Tue, 27 Apr 2004 00:35:02 -0500, Mark Anderson

some fennel are biennial, some perennial.. what was it, florence fennel?

If you let it flower and go to seed, don't worry, some will come up somewhere. My yard was neglected for a long time, one thing that not only survived not being watered much was lemon-balm..melissa..pest that made the guy that mowed my weeds last year tear up and sneeze worse than anything he's said he's ever encountered! I've been having it dug out almost everywhere it's occurred this year!

I read that you really meant Pineapple sage, .. unfortunately not hardy in zone 5 or 6. It's a winter house plant if you have a place for it.

Plants that are hardy in your zone should have been ok outside provided they didn't go into the winter dry, and were periodically watered through the winter any time it may have warmed up. It may have been helpful to group them together and provided some additional mulching or just dry leaves put over and around them and maybe a tarp over them as long as it was checked occasionally to be sure they weren't drying out and not becoming water logged if the tarp blew off and the pots were accidentally placed under an eave or where a rain gutter emptied. I'd make sure they were moist .. not soggy.. give them a little time until the weather is staying above freezing a good part of the time and buds are swelling and leaves emerging on other plants. I'm zone 6, and the trees are all leafed out, lemon balm in the ground are growing well and has been grubbed out, and catnip has been green for months. But I'm in Idaho, and it's zone 6 ..but it's been unusually warm here and getting much warmer earlier than it should for years. It's been above 60 ..warm enough to spray roundup for well over a month here.
Try some larger pots if you can for plants that get quite large, but if those plants went dry.. they may not have survived. If you are thinking they're dead, and getting impatient you can always check the roots and see if they're plump, or showing any light to white new growth, but if it's been pretty cold still..give them a little more time. You could always take them out of the pots if you figure they're done for, but still aren't sure, and just kind of heel them into a spot you're not using for now.. and let them spend more time to prove they're still alive..well. .. except for the pineapple sage..that's a goner. If the fennel went to seed, you'll probably see some seedlings from those. ;-)
Janice
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