Overwintering lavender, daisies and herbs

(Question)

I have 2 pots of lavender and also 2 pots of daisies (perennials) and I want to store them for winter inside. I have a basement which is heated just a little bit but there is another door going to an unheated area which in the winter is really fresh or cold. I am wondering if I could put the pots there and leaving them for the winter. I know I have to cut them down to 1 or 2 inches and cover them with mulch. Do I cover them with something else or just leave them like that in the pots in that colder room. I also have herbs that are organic and wondering if I could do the same thing without them dying.

 

(Answer)

Lavender pots can be stored over the winter for the next season. In the fall, shear back the plants by about one-third (avoid cutting into older, woody stems) – you should be left with a compact cushion of leafy stems. Bring the plants into an unheated garage or porch that is sheltered from wind. Potting mix may freeze, but that isn’t a problem. If the soil thaws out during the winter, water plants every two weeks so that roots stay hydrated.  Come spring, repot the plant in fresh soil.

Any lavender variety will grow in a container, but some are better suited than others. ‘Dwarf Blue’,’Munstead‘, ‘Hidcote‘, ‘Sharon Roberts‘, and ‘Lady’ produce flowers fast and stay a manageable size in pots.  One terrific resource you might want to use is The Christian Science Monitor’s With these tips, anyone can grow lavender, a 2010 article by  Doreen Howard.

Perennial daisies should also do well in pots.  For example, shasta daisies should be cut back by about half in the fall, after the first hard frost.  During the winter, water just enough to keep the top inch or so (2.5 cm) of soil barely moist.  Here’s a how-to guide: How to Grow Shasta Daisies in Pots.  A Canadian Gardening article, Tips for overwintering container plants, by Beckie Fox, notes that hardy/borderline hardy perennials die back during the winter, while their roots hibernate until it’s time to wake up the following spring.  It’s important to keep the plant dormant and provide an environment that meets their hardiness zone needs.  The author advises that if the pots are large and the plant is hardy to at least one zone below your area, the plants will likely survive the winter outdoors.  Alternatively, keep the dormant plants in an unheated area (probably the room beyond your basement that’s coolest – but that will depend on how cold it gets) — don’t water much, but don’t allow the soil to get too dry.  As early spring arrives, start putting the containers out gradually for increasing time periods.  Another option is to sink the pot in the ground, cover it with mulch and leave it alone.  You likely prefer the second option, but the option of leaving pots in the garden may tweak your interest.

You mention that you also have some herbs, but not which ones!  Why not bring them in and enjoy them all winter, as opposed to putting them in the basement? Here’s an article called Housebound herbs, from Canadian gardening, nicely written by Albert Mondor.  Keep the herbs in a sunny window in a cool room, and water and fertilize them as suggested.  Another article, How to grow herbs indoors during winter (in the CS Monitor, again by Doreen Howard), highlights the herbs that are most likely to thrive indoors and provides more information on how to grow them successfully.  But your basement may come in handy anyway: Charlie Nardozzi, in his article on the National Gardening Association website –  Growing Food Indoors–  suggests bringing some perennials, like chives, into an unheated basement for a few weeks — so it can have a dormant period (which it likes!) –  before taking it inside to continue growing.