Rosemary not looking good!

megan_anne(TX U.S. z8a)March 30, 2014

I have a rosemary bush that I started a few years ago from some 'live' rooted rosemary cuttings that I got at the grocery store. I had used some of the packaged rosemary in a recipe, and just stuck the remainder in a pot with some soil to use at a later time. Well, the little guys took off and are now a good-sized bush. The bush has been outside and thriving in its location, even blooming -- such cute little lavender flowers!

However, within the past week or so, I've noticed it getting brown and brittle, like the plant might be dying on me! There are still some flowers and flower buds, but there is also a lot of drying and browning.

This plant has been outside all year 'round since being potted up and made it through a few winters, including getting buried with snow a few times over the years, being coated with ice, getting decorated with Christmas doo-dads, and soldiering on through our hot and dry Texas summers. Up to this point it has been tough as nails. Not to mention, it's been a great source of some delicious seasoning for lots of wonderful meals.

This past winter was considerably colder than usual, with a few ice storms (one of which was pretty severe) and many nights in the teens. We also had a 'late' freeze-- just as the peaches were flowering, we had a hard freeze so it may have also cost us a peach crop, darn! In addition, we are still well below where we should be in terms of rainfall. But I know that rosemary likes it dry, so I only watered it if we went for WEEKS without any rain-- and then, just enough to dampen the soil a bit, no soaking and drowning the poor thing. I think I actually only watered it two or three times over the course of a couple of months, and just let it get whatever rain did fall in between 'hose waterings'. This is typically how I was handling the watering, and the rosemary was quite happy until just recently.

Could this rosemary simply be suffering the stress effects of our harsher than usual winter and concurrent long running drought? If I prune it back fairly severely, could it possibly recover? I don't want to lose this beautiful bush even though I do have a new little daughter plant from it.



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chervil2(z5 MA)

In my zone 5 location, I have to overwinter rosemary in my house. The plant is fine outside with temperatures in the upper 20s. I am guessing that the fate of your plant is due to the lows in the teens. Your well established deep roooted plant should be able to withstand long periods without water. I think you can save your plant with some drastic pruning to remove the brown stems. If this were mine, I would be anxious to root some more cuttings. After a few years my plants become tall and leggy and it is time for them to be replaced.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 7:32PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Right off the bat, I'd suspect spider mites. Rosemary is a favorite host of those diminutive pests, especially in warm climates.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 5:58AM
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