Prostate Rosemary

jimfrankyMarch 11, 2007

Just moved to Texas from Maryland about 18 months ago, so this is my second spring season here. All the hot climate plants here are foreign to my east coast green thumb, and I apparently made a mistake with my prostate rosemary bushes last year. When we bought our house, there were several very overgrown rosemary bushes, so I asked some neighbors how to prune them back to a manageable size. Basically, I was told you could not kill these plants, so I pruned all the dragging tendrils back, leaving about a three-foot diameter bush -- about 1/2 the original size. There was only a little growth last year, maybe 6 inches or so. This year, the old growth on the bushes is grey, with only a few tendrils on the undersides that are green. Other rosemary bushes I've seen in the downtown area are already bright green. The house (and these bushes) are five years old. They are on an underground automatic watering system, and receive 15 minutes of water once or twice a week, depending on the season. I fertilized them once last season (heard herbs don't need much fertilizer) with Ironite and MirAcid, since our soil and water are alkaline. Are these rosemary bushes gone-ers? Any suggestions from you Texans as to how to help these plants?

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Hi Jim and welcome.
I usually just pinch back some new growth, eventhough mine are very full
I'm posting a google link and the top two sites are from here at Gardenweb

Here is a link that might be useful: rosemary

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 11:32AM
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You may have killed them with kindness:

Stop watering them & don't fertilize.

& I'd give them another season at least, maybe another year, to see if they recover.

Rosemary is sensitive to water;
if it doesn't have enough, it'll croak.
if it has too much, it'll croak.

& it likes to be on the dry side.

I live in the middle of what was once a cotton field (can you say "soil depletion" & "compacted alkaline clay from hades"?), & I never fertilize the rosemary.

Prostrate rosemary may not be as robust as its cousins:
I have several "regular" rosemary plants that do well, but my prostrate rosemary died after 2 summers, still don't know why.

If looking at them is getting on your nerves, tug gently at a main stem.

If the plant is a goner, the stem will pull out of the soil easily.

Best luck!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 12:17PM
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Prostrate Rosemary is not as winter hardy as the bush form, so that may figure into your problems, but I don't know for sure.

I water my rosemary (the bush form - I don't have the prostrate) when it needs it. I check the soil, and look at the plant. It's hard to describe, but when it sort of looks dull, a bit wilted, and, well, just thirsty, is when I give it a good soaking. Spider mites can be a problem on rosemary occasionally, so you might check for those. It kind of sounds like what you're describing. If you find them on your rosemary, hose it down with a very strong spray of water. Rosemary should not need acid soil. I have never added iron supplements of any kind to my rosemary, and it's doing fine. I do have lots of organic matter worked in, and keep it mulched fairly well with leaves and such.

As for watering in general, you may want to re-think your watering plan. I'm guessing you have a sprinkler system. The best way to use your system is to either operate it on manual, or set it to cycle through multiple times, at 15 or 20 minutes each cycle, until you've watered an inch worth. Get a rain gauge to help you measure. This allows the water to soak in deeply.

Oh, and a late welcome to Texas, by the way, if we haven't welcomed you before.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 12:57PM
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maden_theshade(8 - Austin)

I think these get a bit woody after a few years. Not sure if the woody parts will produce new growth or not. But I don't think it's dead.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 11:16PM
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