Trying indoor rosemary --) Brown brittle leave

Wolfey(6/7)January 15, 2012

I couldn't help it - I had to buy the adorable Trader Joe's rosemary tree at Christmas time.

It's just after New Year's now and the tree isn't looking so cute. Many of the leaves sport brown tips, or have gone totally brown and brittle. Small sections have died back. Some of the green growth is droopy at the tips instead of standing upright. There are still healthy sections, so I don't think all hope is gone. I would just like to keep it alive long enough to put it outside.

I keep it right next to a very bright southern exposure, slight under a shelf. It's rotated semi-frequently. I try not to overwater it, though I probably have recently (thinking it was thirsty). I usually measure it by whether the soil feels dry an inch down, but I could be confusing cool with damp. The plant looks rootbound--I can see them sticking out of the drainage holes--but it's unclear to me if this is desirable or not, and what to do if not (I hear rosemary doesn't like to move).

Any tips you all have on how to perk up the droopy branches, avoid brown leaves, and generally NOT kill my plant would be greatly appreciated!

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

You don't say where you live but if it is a zone where rosemary would grow outdoors I'd get it into the ground asap (after hardening off). As for rosemary not liking to be moved, that's news to me.

If that is impossible I'd put it into the coolest room in the house, even one that is only a few degrees above freezing, like a glazed porch. I'd give it as much light as possible but not directly in hot sunshine through glass. I would also try and keep the air around it humid. Either mist with water, stand on pebbles with water (but not IN water). Rosemary is not a tropical and can withstand cold in winter. I would not fiddle with it at all until it is able to go outside. i.e. don't repot or prune or fertilise or apply any weird concoctions. Just cool, light and humid. And hope.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 6:58AM
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Unfortunately I live in an NYC apartment. I don't have a backyard or porch, and only haphazard access to a roof. The plant lives in the kitchen though, which can get pretty cool right near the big window. I suppose I could put it on the front stoop, but I'm afraid someone would take it...

I will try your suggestion about moving it a little further from the window and standing it on a tray with pebbles.

If I could get it outside, would it do better even though I have to leave it in the pot?

Thanks for your advice!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 10:02AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

My potted rosemary has withstood 10 degrees thus far (forgot to bring it in!), but it was down to 7 last night and I did fetch it in to the enclosed back porch which likely kept a some degrees above.

Luckily - it was covered with several inches of snow before the bitter cold hit, generally my plan was to bring it inside if the night time low was lower than 20/15....I hope it made it through the few days of supercold I forgot about it....

In your case, I'm not sure I would put too much effort into an ailing said there are some sections that still look healthy.

I would clip off any of the not healthy sections, and then follow the advice above. Rosemary survives overwinter in zones 6/7, so cool air might help.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 12:12PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Just to make you feel better, wolfey, you've described what usually happens to rosemary that is kept inside the average home. It simply doesn't like the lack of full sunlight, the low humidity, etc.

I'd actually avoid misting rosemary, as that can encourage fungus in all of that dense foliage.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 1:41AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

I was just reading somewhere that most rosemarys are hardy only to zone 8, some to 7.

Interesting - this same source had a rosemary "for a christmas tree" that was not of the culinary variety.....

Shoot don't have it with me but it was the Rickters' catalog....

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 4:07PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

pine rosemary - christmas tree - not suitable for culinary use.....not sure if this is the one you got or not, but maybe look into it further...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 4:09PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

The rosemary in the Richter's catalogue is named as Rosmarinus angustifolia (sic) or pine scented rosemary. This is actually a variety of Rosemarinus officinalis, ie R officinalis var. angustifolius, and although possibly not recommended for eating due to its pungency it will not actually do you any harm.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 4:17PM
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I would take a lot of cuttings from that rosemary tree if there is any healthy branches left and try to start them as that tree is most likely dead.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 9:37AM
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