Advice on fertilizing basil and rosemary

camelliagJanuary 18, 2007

Hi all, I have basil and rosemary in pots in south facing window. They get lots of sun all day. My question is how often do I need to fertilize them? I read somethere that herbs do not require fertilizer. Is it true? My herbs look very happy when I give them miracle gro once a week, though... (I water them every 3 days.) Usually I overdo it and kill them. I don't want that happen to my babies this time. Any advice is appreciated.

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Well, just one question... why is the Rosemary indoors? Okay... after that, In a pot, rosemary probably could take more fertilizer than in the ground, as watering washes out the water soluable nitrogen. You could fertilize it in the spring when growth really starts.
Basil, which is not really a mediterranean herb and a) needs more water and b) less sun than the rosemary Can take more fertilizer than rosemary... I, myself, don't like to fertilize as much as many do... I think people over fertilize, but I guess those people would fertilize every two weeks.
hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 12:09PM
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heathen1, thanks for the great advice. I got the rosemary about 2 months ago but I had no idea how much cold weather affects rosemary so I have kept them indoors. I would love to have them outside. They are about 10 inches tall. It's about 70 degrees during the day in central FL. It could still get cold. Is this a good month to move them outside? or am I being ridiculously cautious?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 5:51PM
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I live in z8 in SC and I have always planted Rosemary outside. Infact I have one now that is doing great. They are perenials here where the winters are usually mild, even with occasional snow and freezing temps.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 7:19PM
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Well, Florida can be a tough place to grow mediterranean plants, but yeah, that's perfect temps... full sun too! But, I'd do it gradually... any plant needs some time to adapt from being indoors. It's probably not the temps in Fla that will be the problem, but the humidity...:o(

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 10:24PM
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Don't feed your plants in winter. Most plants, especially the warm-climate ones, are dormant (asleep and not growing) then. Come the warmer weather, they'll be much happier outside in the full sun, and they might appreciate a moderate feeding. I don't fertilise my rosemary at all (it's in the ground) and it's much happier left to its own devices. Basil is a greedy plant, and I'd feed it every fortnight or so while it's growing strong. Compost is the best fertiliser around! Just toss a handful or two of it around the base of the plant. If you don't know how to use fertiliser, go for one of the time-release fertilisers, and follow the directions on the packet.

I live in a very humid part of Australia, in the subtropics where humidity is very high. My herbs just love it! I find it's an advantage, not a problem. My rosemary and lavender just power on. Just make sure to keep plenty of space between your plants to allow for air circulation, and provide the plants with excellent drainage. The heat and fierce sun suit them well, too. We have very mild winters, usually dry, so mine stay outside all the time.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 2:34AM
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Well, I had a wrong idea about fertilizer. Whenever my plants don't grow, I just poured a good amount of fertilizer on them. Thanks, daisyduckworth. What a name! I like that!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 1:20PM
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Plants are just like humans in many ways. Feed them too much and they get sick!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 4:41PM
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yeah... when you think of it, look in the wild... those plants aren't getting anyone to fertilize them... but a lot of gardeners like to have huge lush plants... with that will come a susceptibility to diseases too... but they look good and that's what most people care about... BUT some, like rosemary and lavender won't look good, they will get burnt and die... :o(

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 6:43PM
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Whenever my plants don't grow, I just poured a good amount of fertilizer on them.

It may be helpful to understand that fertilizer is not plant food (despite some fertilizers labeling themselves as such). Plants 'eat' the sun. The plant's physiological processes will not take place without the sun. When these processes are taking place then there are essential minerals the plant requires to support these processes and complete it's life cycle.

Giving a plant fertilizer that it doesn't need is no better an idea than is eating 10 one a day vitamins every day.

In the case of herbs and other plants grown for foliage 'forcing' growth via fertilizer usually ends up producing poor tasting herbs.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 2:39PM
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Camelliag, what part of Central Florida are you in? How big are your plants?

Rosemary and basil are both great in Florida--no, the humidity won't hurt them, but you have to make sure they get proper drainage (especially the rosemary) depending on where you are. Also, unlike most of Florida, there are parts in Central Florida in which the soil could actually prove too rich--and that would matter, too. But, of course, it could only matter if you planted them out.

If it is very cold outside or the plants don't get much sunlight inside where they are now, you will want to slowly acclimate your plants to being outdoors. Once established, rosemary will tolerate the coldest parts of Florida with ease and will benefit greatly from the sun. Basil also likes sun, but if you get frost in your area you would want to bring it in for cold fronts.

Good luck, and don't worry because most mint-relatives love neglct. Skip the fertilizer and give 'em sun!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 12:40AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I grew rosemary from 'primed' seeds last spring and it grew well outdoors all summer. I left it out and was still harvesting it up until December. Now that we have temps below 10 degrees, its frozen and is dead. No problem, I still have more seeds for more plants next year. It does grow well once in the garden. In my Z6 it will not survive winters. You can use some fertilizers high in the nutrients that encourage essential oils. My rosemary was quite sticky like pine, when it was picked. At one time Gardens Alive offered a fertilizer specifically blended for herbs. I still have a little left and apply it around my summer basil, cilantro, dill, winter chives, garlic grass, and rosemary. Basil, by the way gets bitter once it starts to flower.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 11:52AM
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New at this - what is "primed" seeds????

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 1:25PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Primes seeds are ones that offer a more reliable germination. Rosemary is hard to grow from seeds and so they treat the seeds with various temperatures and controlled moisture so they germinate better. Johnny's offers primed rosemary seeds, as mentioned in another thread. Mine will get started soon as all of last summers has not survived our cold winters here.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 1:31PM
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