basic help with lavender and rosemary

iloveherbs2(8b)November 16, 2013

I recently moved to Austin from the northeast, and can't seem to keep plants alive anymore. In the northeast I had such a green thumb!

I've killed 2 rosemary and 2 lavender plants so far. I potted them in a store bought potting mix with added perlite and my own vermicompost. The top of the soil seems to dry out within a day or two. I've tried watering more (1-2 times a week) and less (once every 2 weeks) but still no luck.

My current lavender started dying from the bottom up. The leaves turned a mottled grayish brown. But they are soft and flexible, not brittle and dry.

Am I watering too much? Not enough? Is there too much sun?

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phoenix7801

Well first did you kind of rough up the root ball. Alot of times the root ball will be tough and not absorb water. While you water the pot, the ball could be bone dry. The opposite can also happen and you could be watering it too much. Its been cold this past week and wet and chilly is something unestablished lavender and rosemary don't really like.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 11:18AM
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iloveherbs2(8b)

Thanks for the help. I did pull the root ball apart a little, but I guess it may not have been enough: I just dug up the plant, and the root ball did seem dry compared to the rest of the pot. Does lavender tolerate such rough treatment of the roots?

I pulled apart the roots some more, and replanted, but I think it might be too far gone. What time of year is best to make another attempt? Is it getting too cold now? I'd love to enjoy the flowers next summer.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 1:29PM
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wally_1936(8b)

I live SW of Houston but have never had a problem with Rosemary. In fact I love to keep taking cuttings that I just stick into our soil for new starts just in case. Now I have had a problem with sage but I also do the same take cuttings just in case. If I end up with too many I try to find local friends who just might like to try new herbs. When I buy those herb plants I get the small ones and take good care of them. I found that the large plants have not fared as well when planted as the smaller cheaper plants.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 2:36PM
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cynthianovak

I just bought a prostrate rosemary in a 3 gallon pot. Went big because I'm, putting it in a big pot. This is helpful because I have not planted it yet and I will rough up the root ball. Hopefully I will be able to make plenty of cuttings.

I am planting it in a sandy potting mix. It looked more like landscapers mix when I opened it. Would you add timed release fertilizer or let it be through the winter? Thank you c

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 11:00PM
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shebbster3636(8)

In my opionion, herbs do better without fertilizer. If using fertilizer, I would wait until spring and do not over pet them, using a fish emulsion. Remember herbs are basically weeds you can doctor with or cook with and they make you smell nice but after years of playing with them through trial and error I have had better luck planting from seed in a sandy/loamy soil. Herbs usually do better in poor soil believe it or not ( if planted outdoors). lavender I plant mine in an area that drains well. Lavender and Rosemary do not like wet feet. When you water, water well and then do not water again until dry again. I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:03PM
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bluegirl_gw

Sounds like rot. A lot of purchased potted herbs are in a mostly peat mix & it dries out & becomes impervious to water or if watered frequently, it stays too soggy.

Try planting some in the native soil around Austin--I mean the limey junk full of caliche--they love it. Lavender & rosemary thrive in this climate & become huge shrubs. They are deer-resistant & the butterflies love them.

If you want to pot them up, use some of the coarse native gravel in with your potting mix or go with the crudy caliche native "soil". They will do fine with little supplemental watering. Austin's climate is similar to the desery Mediterranean zone they thrive in.

When I lived nearer Houston--much wetter, I could only carry lavender during the winter--it typically rotted in the hot humid summer. I finally kept it alive planting it in an oyster shell & sand mix.

Here (near SA) it does so well I have to be careful where to plant it as it gets so large.

The augustifolias have done best--my largest are Goodwin Creeks. The dentatas can get set back by cold weather.

Rosemary grows so well in this zone it's ubiquitous in landscaping.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:22PM
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bluegirl_gw

And to second what others mentioned, I'd skip the fertilizer & plant now. In this zone, planting perennials in fall & winter is favored. It's most often the heat that slays new plants, not the cold. Planting in fall/winter gives the roots a chance to establish before the heat of summer. Mulch well.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 12:10AM
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southofsa

I killed a lot of rosemary (maybe a dozen plants?-I'm a slow learner) by planting it in pots. If you have a place for it in the ground with lots of sun and good drainage you'll have better luck IMO. Ditto what bluegirl said about planting now- gives them a little more time to get established before summer.

If you don't have a place in the ground, I'd have to agree about getting soil with some rocks in it. Nothing that stays wet too long- but take that advice from someone who never got the hang of rosemary in pots :-)

Good luck- Lisa

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 6:44AM
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