Rosemary Gone Woody!

putriAugust 4, 2007

I have a rosemary in a pot, and it's stems are woody.It's abit tall though it was first around 2 ft but I just cut it so it's about 1.5 ft now. Are the stems woody because it's old already? The plant was woody when i bought it at a nursery. When I bought the plant I didn't mind the woody stems cause I thought the plant's height caused the woodiness, but now that I've seen pics of rosemary in large sizes with green stems i began to wonder if my rosemary is having a problem. Can anyone answer my doubts or give me advice? thanks.

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I don't know, Rosemary has always seemed woody to me. I've never really considered the standard rosemary officinalis to be very attractive when large. If you want green growth, you can fertilize, but that may affect the flavor of your herb, if you are using the herb for food.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 10:49AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Rosemary is a shrub, so it is perfectly natural for it to go woody. Depending on the variety it could happily grow to four or five feet high and as wide, so 2 feet is not particularly tall. To reduce the amount of woody growth in favour of softer younger growth you can clip or trim your plant. In a suitable climate it will be easier to grow in the open ground than a pot as long as it has good drainage. It will require far less attention in terms of food and water.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 2:05PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

As mentioned, Rosemary is a shrub and only the leaves are used for seasoning. The stems will always get woody and you don't use the stems for anything. Here, it can never survive a winter and will be totally dead by January, unless steps are taken and its moved indoors over the winters. Whne I remove the leaves, some are chopped up fresh with thyme and mixed with butter and olive oil and frozen in small chunks. I also dry a lot of it and leave it whole so that when used, I can crush or chop it up. I start it from primed seeds every year as its just too much bother to bring in, as it can contain bugs in soil, and if these survive, I will ave infestations elsewhere, especially for fungs gnats. About the only fertilizer I use is an organic fish based one. They don't seem to affect the flavor at all.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 2:26PM
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I also use a fish emulsion for fertilizer. When is the rosemary's flavour the strongest? When it's still a green stem? Or woody? Thx again.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 9:58PM
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I didn't know that feeding rosemary was a good idea, knowing how it likes a "poor" soil and all. I use the deodorized fish emulsion (5-1-1) for my citrus....1 tbls. diluted in a gallon of water, about every other time I water them while they're flowering and fruiting.

I have four large rosemary plants in containers (two from previous seasons overwintered indoors), all doing well, except one is a little pale. Needles are fine, just not as deep green as the others. I wondered if it needed some a little help. Or if it was just another strain and that's why it looked different.

I think I'll try a little fish emulsion on it. With the 5-1-1, it can't hurt it. What do you think, a tbls. in a gallon of water, like for the citrus, or diluted even more?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 10:34AM
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What do u mean citrus fruits? If so, I think fish emulsion will do good. I've never tried it on citrus but my neighbor has before and it did great. I've used fish emulsion on mints and lemongrass an rosemary. But now that I know rosemary doesn't like good soil I'll stop fertilising that. So how are we to make rosemary thrive and bushy??
Btw what's the 5-1-1. I'm sorry I don't know I just started gardening. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 11:25AM
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By citrus, I mean I have lemon trees.

And the 5-1-1....I hope I get this right...the first element is nitrogen. The second is phosphorus, and the third is potassium. It's usually represented by NPK. (God, I hope I got that right). The higher the number, the more concentrated that particular element is in the fertilizer.

Rosemary likes LOTS of sunshine, and well-drained soil. And pruning it (I use it for cooking and marinating all the time, so mine are in constant stages of pruning), will force out new branches and help them eventually bush out.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 12:47PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

When I harvested all of my rosemary it was at the end of the season. I found that after removing leaves, my fingers were sticky with the natural oils it gives off. Kind of like what you get when you remove leaves from pine trees. Once the rosemary leaves are gark green, they are ready to pick off.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 1:13PM
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CA Kate

I always use the leaves off the green stems that grow off the woody stems... the older leaves are too hard and piney tasting. I have the luxury of having fresh Rosemary year around and can't imagine needing to use hard, old, dried Rosemary ever again. If you keep using the green stems the plant will continue producing them.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 11:23PM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

Two addendums to what everyone else has posted:
I had a small rosemary kept outside for two winters and am also in zone 6. (Didn't know it wasn't supposed to stay out there until the summer after it survived its first winter.) Made it through the last winter, but, since I don't go out back except during gardening season, I neglected it for a month, and the poor thing died from lack of watering. (So much for my idea of "arid" plant!)

As for the stems being useless, gonna have to disagree with that one! Once you've removed the needles, the stems are great as shish-ka-bob skewers. Haven't tried it myself yet (never had one big enough to go for such huge cuttings), but Lydia, from the PBS cooking show, "Lydia's Table" uses them occasionally for some of her Italian home-cooking cuisine. It infuses rosemary deep into the food skewed! Sounds yummy, anyway.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 11:43PM
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Thanks everyone I appreciate ur attention. I'll start pruning the shrub hopefull it gets bigger. I love it's smell, sometimes I take long cuttings and put them in a vase with cinnamon sticks, makes a great room refreshener. Btw my rosemary's leaves aren't green-green they're more like dark green and has a white/silver color to it. Anyone knows why? Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 7:59AM
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CA Kate

Putri: Your color is as it should be; and the silvery/white color is suppose to be there..... most drought tolerant plants have it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 1:19PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

As westelle says, putri, the colour of your rosemary is fine. They vary and not all are dark green. Mine has rather thin needles and is grey-green. The woody bits are also good to throw on a barbecue to get an aromatic smokey flavour.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 10:02AM
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Ok then, Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 7:40PM
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