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I've got tomato, basil, rosemary, thyme and peppermint plants. I've read that the rosemary and peppermint are perennials.

How do I prepare my [plants that should live until next year]?

We had our first freeze two nights ago. I'm in central New Mexico, I'm not sure what zone that is, but I'm guessing zones are changing with the climates.

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The term you are looking for is perennial, describing plants that can live for many years.

Your rosemary, thyme and peppermint fall in that category.

Of these, rosemary is the most frost-sensitive, but hardyness varies somewhat between cultivars. Note that rosemary originally comes from the Mediterranean with it's mild winters.

I am a bit pragmatic when it comes to rosemary myself - I leave it where it is and see what happens. My plants are rather large and well established and if I lose a branch or two, that's ok for me. (Don't try this with the somewhat softer specimens that are often sold as herbs in supermarkets.) If you have a cold frame or unheated greenhouse, move it there, with good ventilation that will be the optimal solution. Some take rosemary inside1, 2, but you will face the usual risks like etiolation and susceptability to pests.

Thyme tolerates frost well and so does peppermint.

To prepare them for winter, just leave them where they are if they are in the ground. If they are in pots, you can "plant" the entire pot in the ground for a bit of protection, but that's optional. Note that thyme doesn't do well if it's too wet and that peppermint will die back completely over ground and re-grow from the roots in spring - don't throw the pot out too soon!


Just for the sake of completeness: The other two terms are:
annuals - live for one season and
biennials - grow one season, develop seeds and die in the next season.

  • It seems I had my terms backwards, thank you. So basically just do nothing, and start watering (lightly) again after the last frost next year? – CDspace Nov 7 '15 at 14:25
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    @CDspace In a nutshell, yes. If you have a very long and dry winter, pots may dry out and need a bit of water on frost-free days, but generally speaking, relax during winter and let your plants "sleep", too. – Stephie Nov 7 '15 at 16:30
  • Don't forget that even tomatoes can be perennials in frost-free regions. – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Nov 8 '15 at 4:53
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    @Shule some tomatos can be yes, especially indeterminate varieties. Those are the ones that bare flower and fruit all year long so long as the weather cooperates. Tomatoes are tropical vines in all actuality and can grow extraordinarily long or tall if permitted and cared for properly. I means 100s of feet long is possible if allowed. – Escoce Nov 9 '15 at 15:08
  • @shule this is apparently not a frost free region. We've had frost on the ground the past few nights, and the tomatoes are clearly dying – CDspace Nov 9 '15 at 20:54

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