Rosemary and it's water requirements

gborosteveJuly 6, 2006

I've read a lot here about rosemary and how it does well on

"abuse", getting very little water, and only when it absolutely needs it.

But here in NC, a few weeks ago, we got the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto. It rained for 5-6 days straight. Heavy rains. There were times it was a "white-out", I couldn't even see the houses across the street.

And all the while, my plants were outside, in their containers, including the rosemary's, getting plenty of rain. Granted, they have very good drainage, but the rosemary got quite a soaking for days and days, and no harm done. I don't know whether it was because the heat was in the 90's when we got full sun days later....maybe that helped the water evaporate from the soil. But they stayed as healthy as ever. But it was gray and cloudy and rain rain rain for days before we saw the sun some 5-6 days later.

I know rosemary doesn't like "wet feet", but I'm telling you, my rosemary plants got SOAKED! No harm done. Is this unusual? Anyone else had an experience with soaking rain and their rosemary plants? I read one post where someone lost a rosemary plant to the rain. Am I just lucky?

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It's okay as long as you have drainage....think of it this way, what happens is rosemary is prone to root rot... if it sits in wet soil without getting oxygen, the little rooties will croak. With drainage, it may be damp, but it's not sitting in rottable water.
Rosemary is NOT a tropical... it is from places like Greece and Italy, where it's hot and dry during the summer, getting it's cool wet weather during the winter.
hope this helps to explain.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 3:30PM
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lynnsherbs(4 Minnesota)

I've found that it hands water well, and it handles cool temps pretty well (not freezing) can't handle both. Your rain came at a good time.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 3:58PM
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Ahhhhh.....that would explain why my rosemary has been doing so well despite all that rain. Good drainage.
Can't do anything about the tropical thing. While not in the tropics, it gets VERY humid here. And HOT.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 5:49PM
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Where I live, in the subtropics, summer is our wet season, and we normally get torrential downpours on almost a daily basis frequently throughout the season (although we're in a drought now). Heat and humidity are correspondingly very high. My back fence is only about 6 metres from my back door (I have a tiny courtyard garden), and when it rains, I can't see that fence. At times, my little garden closely resembles a swimming pool.

My rosemary, sage, lavender and other Mediterranean herbs (my garden is all herbs) do extremely well, thank you. That's because the garden has excellent drainage. All the excess water runs off very quickly, and the fierce sun also does its job.

I learned a long time ago that the books have all got it wrong about rosemary and its mates preferring dry conditions! They can tolerate drought when adult, and they certainly hate paddling their feet for long periods, but they really, really like a good soaking from time to time, and they lap up the humidity. It's the drainage that matters. That's my experience with them, anyway.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 6:54PM
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Daisyduckworth....that's really good, heartening news to hear. Because here we definitely have the humidity and with that come the thunderstorms and soaking downpours. And the one thing my plants have is excellent drainage....I've made sure of that.

Thanks for writing your experience. Nice to hear that rosemary does like a good soaking from time to time and will be OK if allowed to have good drainage.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 7:40PM
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Yes, rosemary is NOT a cactus... you dry it out and it will die... just doesn't want to sit in a pond. :o) Sigh... Daisy... I want to move there... sigh... :o)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 11:49AM
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As Daisy and others have pointed out, drainage is the key. In fact, a good soaking rain helps remove the salts that build up in a potted plant. Earlier this year in one three week period we had 9 inches of rain, 4.5 over eight days, a week with only showers and another week with 4.5 inches. Everything was soaked, soaked, soaked. My rosemary plants did fine. Even more important to me, my potted citrus trees also did fine, and they are even more sensitive to wet feet than rosemary. It's all in the drainage.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 3:01PM
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My potted plants are sitting out on a gravel driveway and getting overhead watering every day. Several are in full bloom and all are looking healthy. They really love this hot weather as long as they get enough water.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 7:34PM
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I have a few very tiny rosemary sprouts, each about half an inch tall, recently the poor things have started to die, I could use any help about what they need to grow in an apartment that anyone can give me, also any tips about growing chives would be amazing too since they`re not doing well either :(

    Bookmark   March 22, 2008 at 1:02PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Most of the time, people growing plants indoors tend to do too much 'babying'. Avoid overwatering is the first thing you must do. Make sure their pot is big enough, and the soil used is good quality sterilized soil that contains no possible bugs or diseases. If the plants are tiny, give them plenty of light, not just from a sunny window. Avoid cold drafts while they are still young. After a few sets of leaves you can add a little weak fetilizer in liqud form. Chives are grown in a similar fashion and greens can grow up to a foot or more in height. My winter chive (wild onion) has leaves over to 2 foot tall, but dies out in early summer, and returns in fall through winter. It also sets seed balls, of very tiny onion clusters. The ones that produce my winter chives are only the size of peas.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 10:57AM
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