Preserving evergreen herbs during winter

Q: I live in Squamish, B.C., mainly zone 7/8 but can be 6 during some winters. We get very little sun exposure for a couple of months because our house is butted against a mountain peak.

How do I winter-over my silver or evergreen herbs: curry plant, sage, rosemary, lavenders—they are all in pots, can I bury the pots in soil and leave them out during the winter so they will get more sun?

Same for my butterfly bushes, both are in pots.

I also have tarragon, mints, basil, and lemon balm… I assume I need to bring in for winter. The only place they would get most indirect sun is my north windows, the south windows have less exposure due to roof over our deck. Will north windows be enough?

I live in a similar zone and here’s what I have found: Curry plant will not survive the winter without protection. I suggest you bring it inside and keep it in a cool spot with some light. If north light is all you have available, I would give it a try.

Basil is absolutely going to die outside, but perhaps you will find my experiment interesting. So far (into November), my basil is still looking good. Or you can also grow basil in your kitchen: it will likely do okay there and will be handy for salads and cooking.

I leave tarragon, mints and lemon balm out all winter. All of these die back but will return in the spring. At some point, usually early spring, I snip away the dead leaves and branches to clean each plant up before the new growth reveals itself. Before you leave them for the year, you might want to snip a few stems to dry for winter consumption.

My sage and lavender seem to hang in there during the winter, although some of my neighbours have lost theirs during cold spells, so it’s a bit risky. Here are a few things I’ve learned about lavender that may helpful to you. Also, consider mulching your more cold-sensitive plants and this will help them to survive the winter chill: Grass clippings or leaves are great, and here are a few more suggestions.

I love all these beautiful and useful plants – you’ve made some good choices!