We’ve got an extensive collection of herbs for culinary, medicinal and garden health purposes and while they mostly need nothing from us, I do give the woody herbs a drastic haircut around now (spring’ish) to bring on fresh, abundant growth. Left alone, herbs like sage, rosemary, curry bush, oregano, chamomile will become leggy, sparse and woody at their base. To manage this, you can literally cut them back to the ground (or close to), allowing them to grow a whole new plant above ground – here’s how…
Meet our curry bush (Helichrysum italicum). It’s been quietly cranking in our herb garden and was well overdue for a big haircut.
All you need to do is get a sharp pair of secateurs and cut the bush back close to the ground. You can also do this before you see fresh growth coming from the base, in which case you can cut it back to pretty much ground level.
While it initially looks a bit shocking, this little stump will shortly be bushy up nicely, promise.
What should you do with all that leaf? Usually we make small bunches of all our herbs and dry them for using in the kitchen, however we don’t use a huge amount of curry bush so we put it back into the garden as mulch, plus we do dry some. If you want to, you can also take some cuttings to propagate more plants.
In the same garden we’ve also cut back our sage plants, salvia officinalis and salvia elegans a few weeks earlier and you can already see their fresh growth coming on strong. To reduce the shock from going to having a very bushy, large herb patch to one full of small “stumps”, you can stage the pruning sessions like I’ve done – it can help the visual side of things a bit if you have some fresh growth amongst the other stumps.
If this is your first time, just remember – it’s really really hard to kill these types pf perennial herbs, so there’s no need to be shy or nervous. And if you’re wondering what herbs you should include in your herb patch, have a look at some of the ones we think are essential.