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:
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.
This is lemon-balm perennial that was in one of my milk crate containers.
So far it isn't showing any sign of growth.
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?
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
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
Let me know if you are desperate for lemon balm - I have plenty!
In article email@example.com 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
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.
some fennel are biennial, some perennial.. what was it, florence
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
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. ;-)
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