Prune - More woody herbs such as sage or thyme may require some actual pruning. Look for dead branches and cut them away and give winter savory, thyme and lavender (if not already done from summer harvesting) a short haircut to be ready for winter hibernation. Unless your rosemary is overgrown or a very large bush, it is best to just leave it be. Prune it as you use it throughout the summer and fall. When things are looking pretty good, a good dose of organic fertilizer will have your herbs ready for spring growth.
Potted plants of more sensitive herbs like lemon verbena that won’t tolerate freezes and cold weather, should be brought in before the first freeze. So keep an eye on the weather. If you have a greenhouse, that is a good place for potted plants like lemon verbena, or some people winter them over in the house. The problem with that is it may be too warm. We’ve never had great luck bringing them inside.
Other potted herbs that are not as sensitive as herbs such as lemon verbena or pineapple sage, may be brought up close to the house to be out of the windy chill of the coming months. Insulate the pots as needed to ensure the roots don’t get wind chilled.
Propagate – Maybe you’d like the thyme to spread out more or start another sage plant. Gardening experts say that sage and some other woody plants should be replaced every 3-4 years. Many herb plants take well to layering to start new plants. Herbs such as thymes, sage, rosemary and winter savory will propagate this way. Stem layering or tip layering, involves bending over low stems and helping them to root into nearby soil. Select a stem that wants to bend over, and slightly wound it at the point where you want roots to grow. A scrape with a trowel or knife will do, then cover the wounded section with enough soil to keep the stem moist, topped with a stone to hold it in place, and wait. The mother plant is left undisturbed, and the new plant can be dug when a sound root system has established which could be as early as the next spring. While you’re pruning you may want to take some stem cuttings to propagate also. These can be propagated in water or in small pots of soil on your window sill inside. Root runners from herbs such as mints may need to be dug up and cut off to keep the plant from intruding into other herb's territory. All of these propagated herbs can be great for gifts.
Take a few minutes to reflect on your summer successes in the herb garden and the lovely plants in your herb beds, which will pop their green heads up again come spring. Enjoy the last fleeting days of fall when it is so good to be outdoors.