By Joyce Driemeyer
About the only thing I successfully raised this past summer was my water bill. Let’s face it, we suffered from the severe drought and heat. In spite of it, as I write this, the herbs managed on while those still in bloom continue to attract bees, moths, and butterflies, and even an occasional hummingbird.
Now, before frost, there is still time to pot up or take cuttings of tender plants you wish to carry on for next year’s garden. Be warned, unless one has greenhouse conditions or a covered porch with lots of light, growing herbs inside is not terribly successful. Small pots of chives, parsley and sweet marjorum may work on a windowsill where they receive enough sun. Basil, which is the only herb I ever root in water, will last for awhile-it can then be transferred to a small pot with potting soil mix. Use only potting mix for any of these plants, not garden soil. Pots should be kept moist and out of cold until rooting takes place in 3-4 weeks.
For cuttings of tender plants like pineapple sage, lemon verbena, non-hardy lavenders and scented geraniums, take 4-6” cuttings, remove lower leaves, dip the lower stem into root-stimulating hormone, and insert up to the first node (the joint where the leaf joins the stem) into a prepared small pot containing moist vermiculite or sterile potting soil mix. Small clean pots or flats with drainage holes can be used and more than one cutting can be planted per pot depending on its size.
Pots of rosemary thrive very well, in fact, bloom all winter in my cool greenhouse (50°F). Rosemary is a challenge in our centrally heated homes; it is best to bring potted rosemary inside after frost – it will withstand 20°F. One can also try bringing it through in an unheated garage over winter. Scented geraniums do very well in my greenhouse, too. The Victorians loved them in their cool winter homes.
N.B. If in October we still aren’t receiving sufficient rainfall, be sure to slowly newly planted trees and shrubs them every 5-6 days. I have even been soaking my established trees and shrubs such as dogwoods, viburnums and serviceberries.
Joyce Driemeyer says she’s semi-retired after more than 25 years as a professional landscape designer. She is a Master Gardener, and volunteers, lectures and conducts classes at Missouri Botanical Garden, and has actively served in both the St Louis Herb Society and The Herb Society of America.