Maybe you’ve been wanting an extra thyme or some other valued herb. Rather than looking for an actual plant, it is fairly easy to propagate from your mother plants. Here are some methods for propagating perennial herb plants that we have used and found successful.
- Division: Non-woody (herbaceous) plants such as marjoram, tarragon or anise hyssop can by dug up and the large clump carefully pulled apart into smaller clumps. The smaller clumps then can be re-planted, watered thoroughly and mulched to protect the roots. This is done when you want to enlarge a bed or if you are moving an entire bed to a new location. We have divided chives, tarragon and mints with good success.
- Layering: This method works well for shrubby herbs such as thyme, rosemary and winter savory. Chose a long flexible stem that will bend to the ground easily. Mark the spot where new roots will set and carefully scrape away the bark from this small section. Hold the branch to the ground and mound soil over it and hold in place with a rock. Be sure the tip is not buried. By late spring it should be rooted and ready to re-plant by carefully digging up the newly rooted branch and cutting it away from the original branch. We have used this method to propagate rosemary and thyme. We have also found it is best to let the plants grow another year before moving them into a new spot. This gives the plants time to put on enough growth to survive successfully.
- Cuttings: Many herb plants may be multiplied through cuttings. Cuttings should be 3 to 6 inches long from new growth that has 3 or 4 nodes. The cut should leave at least 1” of stem to the first node. Set cuttings in a good rooting soil and keep warm and moist. We have found this method works best in summer or in a greenhouse in fall/winter. Erin has successfully propagated lemon verbena, thyme, winter savory and rosemary with cuttings. We have found that this method may also require another year for plants to be fully ready.
As you walk your gardens, take note of which plants seem to be thriving in their locations, and which might benefit from a new location. Transplanting them during the fall gives them a head start on their new location come spring, when they will shoot up to the sun, ready for a new season of herbal bounty.