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Cutting back perennial herbs

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If you have annual herbs such as basil and the cilantro, just let those die each fall and plant them again in spring. But if you have perennial herbs, such as oregano, thyme, sage, and other woody herbs, they need to be cut back this time of year.

If you have a sage plant it often has long woody stems on it as it ages. If you let it keep growing it just gets thin, big and straggly. So cut it back to where you see some other buds on the stem. Snip it to right above the bud. It's OK to cut off a little green now because it will grow back even stronger this spring. You want to prune these herbs back because you get better growth off of the new growth that is going to grow than off of this woody growth.

And there are some herbs that you really don't need to do a lot to. These are also perennials that grow up every year like chives. This one is called lovage. And this one has a great flavor to it. It looks and tastes like celery! It's a great substitute for celery and parsley in soups and stews. It will grow up to be 4 to 5 feet tall by the end of the summer and then it just dies right back to the ground. You can cut off and dead stalks at the end of the season and it grows back up again. It's a great edible landscape plant, nice in an herb garden, and it stays contained so it's a beautiful, garden plant.

To keep these herbs growing well give them a little compos. Just spread it around the drip line this time of year in the spring and they'll be ready to go. 

By Charlie Nardozzi

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