Planting rosemary in-ground in Zone 7

herboholicJuly 10, 2007

I read a former post where it was mentioned that in zone 6 and below that rosemary needed to be either containerized and brought in during the winter or dug-up, containerized and brought in for the winter.

I'm in Zone 7. Does that mean that my rosemary will survive the winter here? I would LOVE to be able to plant my bushes (3 very large ones now) in-ground.

Winter's here aren't terribly bad, although snow, albeit rare, is not out of the question and freezing temps are not at all uncommon. But I do think that rarely does it get cold enough, or enough snow on the ground to freeze the ground, barring an ice storm, which come maybe every two decades.

I have a neighbor right on the other side of my privacy fence that has a garden (planted in-ground), and I admired his rosemary bush one day. Very beautiful and healthy. He said he just left it outside and although it seemed to go dormant during the winter, as soon as warm weather arrived, it perked right back up and did beautifully. Amazed, but I was looking at the proof.

Which really confused me. I've never planted my herbs, let alone my rosemary, in ground because 1) I didn't think they'd survive the winter and 2) about 8" to 1' down their is a clay base....not desirable for an herb loving a well-drained soil.

But if I can build a special, raised planting bed for the rosemary and leave it in-ground, I would LOVE to do that in my zone.

How deep do rosemary roots go? If I gave them a well-drained planting bed soil medium, despite the clay deep down, would they be alright?

My rosemary's are very large and in very large pots, but I would LOVE to see them in a sunny spot in the backyard up against the fence.

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rosebush(z7 NC)

I'm in Zone 7 and have my rosemary planted in-ground, slightly raised and amended bed. It's been there two years now and is thriving. Have had to cut it way back several times. I "mulch" it with crushed oyster shell, as I do my lavender.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 11:28AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Crushed oyster shells also raise soil pH, so if its high in pH, it may not grow well.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 12:40PM
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I have planted Arp and Rosemary O. in zone 7 with no problems at all :) It blooms a ton in the summer and smells fantastic. I am trying Salem this year and see what I get.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 7:19PM
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Thanks everyone for the input! I really want my rosemary bushes out of their pots.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 7:39PM
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I am in zone 7 as well. My 3 year old rosemary bush (which was a 4 inch plant when I put it in), is now at least 3 1/2' in width and about knee high. I have rosemary all winter without any problem. Try planting some sage next to it. they seem to get along well.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 9:23PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Rosemary (the cultivar 'Arp' is very hardy) is used quite a bit in my location....much of which is zone 6b or colder. I can speak personally of large hedges of it at the U. of A. in Huntsville (many years in the ground) and in my own back yard. Both sites are heavy clay soil that drains well. Neither location has automatic irrigation, resulting in a more substantial, deeper root systems.

Temperatures in the winter often drop to the teens or below. Frost is common and normal.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 11:16AM
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penelope(Z6 KY)

I'm in zone 6 - Western Kentucky and I have two different Rosemary plants that have survived a hard winter outdoors. One is 'Barbarque' a tall one that you can use the stems as skewers and I forget the other name. These are planted next to the house on a south facing wall - that never hurts. I have never been able to over-winter a rosemary in the house.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 6:50PM
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If you have a dry winter don't forget to water them.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 12:00AM
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I planted my rosemary plant this year directly in the ground and it seemes ok so far, it has aprox doubled in size since I planted it. Its about 6inches tall now. Will it be too small to survive the winter(zone7)? Should I leave it in the ground or try to bring it inside this fall? The same with my thyme plant(it is a bit bigger though)??

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 9:59AM
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leslie_c....I wintered my thymes outdoors last year. They did well last growing season and were in LARGE pots and flourished. I never considered they'd live throughout the cold winter, and they didn't. They just kind of died back. But as soon as the weather turned warm, I noticed new growth, so I replanted them, and today they're doing very well.

I'm told rosemary will do OK in our zone (7) in the ground, even with some frost. The man across my fence has a beautiful rosemary bush and it's in-ground and is doing great. This even despite some snow we got last winter. So I guess it's hardier than I originally thought. My soil was also an issue, having clay about 8" to 1' down, but reading a response here, someone else has rosemary planted where there's clay that's doing well. Knowing rosemary doesn't like "wet feet" and the fact that clay is so compact and poor draining, I never thought it stood a chance planted in my backyard. But the man across the fence has the same soil as I do. He didn't even recondition it.

I overwintered my rosemary indoors last year, and they survived and did well.

But this year, I'm taking all of my rosemary out of their containers and planting then in-ground. We'll see. I'm very excited. Even though they're in LARGE containers and haven't suffered, I've always wanted to liberate them from their pots and see what they will do

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 10:14AM
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So thyme works kind of like mint, by dying down during the winter then coming back in the spring?Last year and this year I started freezing some of my basil during the summer so I woukld have some for the winter. Since thyme dies down during the winter, would do you think I should do the same thing with it? Did you do anthing to cover it during the winter? Also do you know if your neighbor did anything with his rosemary?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 9:36AM
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granite(z6 NC)

? My thyme is green all winter. When I married in February 2003 I went outdoors the morning of the wedding, knocked show off of my herbs, and picked Rosemary, Lavender (leaves only at that time of course), and Thyme to be used in the corsages, bouquets, and my hair.

My rosemary bush survived 12 winters outdoors partially shielded by its location between the house and a small spruce tree. This spring we had a warm March followed by two snows in April and 80% of the bush died out. I'm not holding my breath that the remainder will survive another winter, because of how exposed the trunk is now. I've started cuttings; but if they don't make it I plan to start fresh with an "Arp" next spring.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 9:20AM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

Just a note about zone 7 and rosemaries --

Not all zone 7's are created equal. If you have a very wet winter, the rosemary will have a harder time than if you have the same temperature but less rain. AND, not all rosemaries are created equal, either! I got three types of rosemary through last winter, outside, IN POTS, but it took a few years of experiments before I was successful. Be SURE to give them good drainage!

I bought a fourth variety this spring. This is a new one, selected by a nursery owner up in the extreme NE corner of TN. It's called 'Eloise'. I hope it gets through the winter too!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 2:03AM
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Granite....beautiful picture, BTW. How inspired to use fresh herbs in your bouquet, corsages and headdress. There is a lot of folklore that goes along with rosemary, and it was an herb traditionally given on the wedding day for remembrance. Not to be morbid, but also rosemary was buried with the dead so as not to be forgotten by the the living.

As far as I know, talking with my neighbor who has the beautiful rosemary bush in-ground, he did nothing special to his plant. When I asked him about the snow (not a lot) we had that past winter, he said he just went out and brushed the snow off the plant. Like it was no big deal. Judging from the look of his plant and it's sturdy wooden, bushy stalks, he's growing the "BBQ" variety.

Right now, still, all my rosemary is in containers and doing very well and do have excellent drainage. They are the least watered of all my herbs, and seem to like it that way. I have Miss Jessup, Gorizia, Arp, the "BBQ" type (my oldest) and one I'm not sure of. It's the one you find in grocery stores around the beginning of the growing season....has the shape of a Christmas tree.

That type of rosemary turned out to be the most difficult one for me and I will never buy another one of them. They look so beautiful in the store...healthy, tall, lush and green. But they're so root bound. After getting it home and removing it from it's little 8" pot that I knew it wouldn't survive in, I really had to work at the root system to free up the roots. Hard as a rock. I replanted it, and it did well for a short time, but soon started giving me problems. Part of it dying out, other parts yellowing. It always looked like a sick rosemary plant. I thought it never stood a chance.

But right now, after last year, it's finally taken hold and it growing beautifully, with new and long healthy resinous shoots everywhere. I couldn't be happier that it ended up surviving. I actually had to, at one point, snip it off at the top, as it was "dead" at it's tip. So needless to say, it no longer has the Christmas tree shape. I have to say, I never expected it to survive but refused to chuck it and just adopted a "wait and see" attitude. I'm glad I did.

It's been mentioned here on the GW, and I believe it to be true, that rosemary does thrive on a certain amount of neglect. It just needs to do it's thing. It needs lots of sunlight, and good drainage. The soil NEVER needs to dry out, but (for me, container-wise), when it gets to feeling like it's getting close to being "dry", I will give it water enough to just slightly drip out the bottom, and that's it. And then I leave it alone. And depending on the heat and the rain, it may be a week before I get back to giving it more water. Seems to be the way for my rosemary, as they're all doing wonderfully. And, I do harvest from all of them all the time.

I do agree that not all Zone 7's are created equal. Here, snow may or may not come in winter. The ground may never even freeze. It's rare it does, but it does happen. And yes, all rosemary's aren't created equal either. Some are hardier than others. I think they types I have chosen are the best for my zone. But again, the Christmas tree type....never again. They look beautiful in the store, but are the touchiest and hardest to keep alive, IMHO.

I would really love to plant all of them outside in-ground, but I have to admit, I love having them indoors during the winter and they seem to love the spot I have chosen for them.

And even given the fact that they're all in the biggest pots imaginable, I know they'll never reach their full potential in containers. But that's OK. They provide me with a bounty of rosemary to cook with and even enough (along with my cilantro, thymes, mints and basils) to sell at the Farmer's Market if I wanted. LOL. But I'm happiest when I give them away to neighbors.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 9:33AM
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Hmmm. I had no idea that rosemary was not "supposed to grow" in zone 7 over winter! I've had a rosemary bush for over 9 years now that has been dug up and moved with me to new houses twice here in Z7 (Georgia mountains)
The temperature falls to the low teens and lower during January and February every year.
The bush is four feet high and just as wide. I've done absolutely nothing to protect it in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 11:52AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

As mentioned in may previous posts, there are SEVERAL diffrent kinds of Rosemary. The types cultured by cuttings, might survive just fine in cold. I start mine from primed seeds, and they dont last trough a single winter.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 2:30PM
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I now live in far southwest AR in zone 7b (within only a few miles of zone 8 based on the maps). I've been growing Rosemary 'Arp' in a large glazed pot outdoors all winter on the north side of the house. There has been wind and rain and temperatures at night have gotten down into the 20s (though days normally get up into at least the high 30s, often 40s-60s). My biggest concern has been that we've had a lot of rain this winter and I hadn't thought to pull the pot in under the porch. Still, the rosemary is doing well and is currently in full bloom. I have been concerned that the soil might have gotten too waterlogged with all the rain but so far the plant shows no signs of stress. I did mix a lot of porous material (pumice, perlite) with the potting soil until when wet the soil would crumble instead of clumping so I suspect that may be why its doing so well. This year I plan to try planting a hardy variety of rosemary directly into a flowerbed in a corner on the southeast side of the house where it will be protected in the winter. We live on a hillside that is underlain by gravel topped by a sandy loam so soil drainage after rains is extremely fast (which should be great for rosemary). There are a lot of Rosemary cultivars so I would suggest it's worth taking the time to research the web for those noted as best for colder climates if you'll be planting directly in the ground (Arp, Madeline Hill, Alcalde Cold Hardy (a newer cultivar discovered growing in mountains of NM). Arp should be fairly easy to find in nurseries, the others you may find it easier to order from online nurseries since they're not as commonly found.

This post was edited by johnb_dallas on Sat, Mar 2, 13 at 20:56

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 8:52PM
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