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overwintering rosemary

Posted by florrie2 7A Maryland (My Page) on
Wed, May 20, 09 at 10:41

Hi everyone: I'd like some advice on overwintering rosemary. I've tried several times, and it has died each winter. I have plenty of sun: geraniums and hibiscus both bloom all winter in my southeast window. What's frustrating is that I have plenty of plants, including "difficult" plants such as orchids and bromeliads, so it's not as if I'm a novice.

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks, Florrie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: overwintering rosemary

I don't know how much advice I can offer, but I can certainly offer sympathy. This past Winter was the first time I ever succeeded in keeping a rosemary through the Winter (they usually die in March or so). It wasn't the healthiest looking thing by the end, but by golly, it was ALIVE. My current goal is to successfully over-Summer it outdoors.

Let me tell you what I do know.

Over-watering is one of the worst things for a rosemary. Apparently many people do this. They prefer to be dried & drenched, more like they'd get in a desert. But not too dry, of course (this is my more common problem).

Many people seem to have success with keeping rosemary someplace where it can go dormant, like in an unheated room, or an attached garage, or something like that. I recently heard of someone keeping it in the basement under a grow light. Different varieties have different cold tolerance, but AFAIK, there aren't any that couldn't handle a frost or a light freeze. In this case, you keep it watered as needed, but not too often.

If you're not going to send it dormant for the Winter, you should try to get it plenty of bright light. This can be hard in the Winter.

That being said, I don't have anywhere suitable for dormancy, and didn't manage to get my rosemary into particularly bright light, but it did make it (though a bit pale, and a bit spindly). It's coming back now, though.

One friend tells me that she's found that she has more success if she sprays her rosemary with water now & again, so that the needles don't dry out too much.

All I can say is...good luck.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

Never had any luck with rosemary over a winter. I grow it from primed seeds and by the end of summer its large enough to harvest (about a foot tall). There are several different kinds of rosemary and a few are OK in very cold climates. I have not found any yet that survive here.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

Mine is in a container and I just leave it outside on the patio which faces south. Since the house protects it from the cold north wind, it always survives just fine, even with the occasional snow we get here. I totally ignore it until spring, it gets whatever mother nature dishes out. I tried overwintering my first rosemary inside but it was a total failure, it died. After that, I decided to just leave it outside and if it doesn't survive then I'd just buy another one, but so far that hasn't happened.

Based on what I read the winter I tried to keep it inside, they are extremely finicky about water/dryness and humidity, etc.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I think in a cold garage, with some light and ocasional watering' just to have some moisture, sould do. Or any coldest indoor should be fine.
Here in this part of Ga we get winter temps somtimes down to mid teens and rosemary overwinters in the garden, with no protection. But if you get continuous subfreezing temperature that groung freezs to a depth of say 16", then it is another matter.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

There are different varieties with varying hardiness. I have a couple different varieties (don't remember what either is) and they overwinter just fine in zone 7A for me, and for all of the other gardeners in our community gardens. If you are anywhere near Lusby, you might stop by for a cutting or perhaps even a rooted little plant to try.
HTH
Christine


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I kept mine alive this winter in a pot in the green house. We don't heat it until early spring. So it does get cold at night. However, I did use large amounts of worm castings tea to keep it alive. With the use of the tea it continued to grow believe it or not. I did take some work. I watered once a week and sprayed the leaves twice a week with the worm tea.
I have worms growing also so I have plenty of castings.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I have one rosemary that has made it thru several winters. The first on the back of the toilet, north window in a tiny bathroom. I think the moisture from the shower helped. But this variety seems to have drier leaves, not as flat and shiney as many rosemaries I see. The second winter it was in a south window, cool bedroom. Last winter it sat in an attached garage. Temp probably never got below 50 since the garage gets some heat from our wood furnace. I watered it sparingly. It seems to be able to handle dry conditions. A friend does well with rosemaries by putting a humidifier next to it. Remember we live in NH were homes can be very dry during the winter. One year when I was trying to keep a rosemary alive I put it in a plastic bag after watering it well. Then we went away for 2 weeks. After I got home and took the bag off, it didn't stay moist enough and expired.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I had AARP rosemary overwinter in my back yard one mild winter, planted in heavy clay in a dry but rather poor drainage area.

I have never succeeded in keeping it alive overwinter in the house.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I'm south of you, but we can lose Rosemary in winter in our area.

Outside it needs to be in a well drained area of the garden planted in an area with some protection from wind. Plus it needs a good layer of mulch.

I have overwintered small Rosemary plants indoors in winter, usually the ones I started from cuttings or from layering the adult plants. Some have made it, others haven't. The main thing I found is to not to over-water them. Keep them in a pot that has good drainage, and don't let them stand in water. Keep them away from heat vents. Most of them have lived happily in winter sitting in front of our patio door, which has some sun morning through early afternoon. Our house stays 55 degrees or above. I never misted the rosemary plants although it seems like a good idea.

Hope you have good luck on your next try.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

Hi, I overwinter rosemary in my kitchen with on & off success. The plant seems to need the constant humidity but will grow fungus if the soil's kept wet. This year I managed to overwinter 2, which have been potted for 3-4 years each, but lost a new batch.

I have tried the bell-jar method in the garden with a 3L soda bottle, but sometime around January/Feb, some kid kicks it over & it freezes, so I gave up & just grow it in pots now.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I live in zone 6 and have a rosemary bush, don't recall the name. that I have had in my herb garden for several years. A couple of years ago I trimmed a wheelbarrow full of branches off it because it was blocking my entrance to the garden. The trunk is a good 4 inches across. It's over 3 ft. tall and that much around. Lately I've noticed some of the branches look like they have some sort of fungus (my term for lack of knowing what to call it). I may lose it but it's been good to me!

jude


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RE: overwintering rosemary

jude31, I'm jealous! I've never been brave enough to try to leave a rosemary out here in zone 6 (Boston area), though when I lived in a place where my herb bed was more sheltered, I briefly considered trying it with loads of mulch. Some of the rosemaries I've seen are rated to zone 7.

I've been hoping to track down an "Arp" rosemary, which is the only one that's supposed to be hardy to zone 6. No luck yet, though I'll admit that I didn't try too hard this year. Next year I'll give it some more concerted effort.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling rather positive about my "over-Summering" project. My sad little rosemary, which miraculously made it through the Winter indoors, has tiny little pairs of new leaves (or needles, I guess?) coming out at nearly every leaf crook, and its color is far, far better now that it's been outside for a month and a half or so. I hope that its larger pot will encourage its root system, and that some judicious pruning will bring it back to a more attractive state.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

Leira, I know where you are coming from. I remember several years ago seeing rosemary that was probably 2 ft. tall at the most, about knee high to me (I'm tall) and I was absolutely in awe of a rosemary that to me was so tall. Never in my wildest dreams thought I would have one that big. I have a prostrate rosemary that's in a smallish plastic pot sitting in the top on an old Italian olive jar and I do take it in to an unheated workshop in the winter along with a potted bay plant that's over 10 years old. I also take my lemon verbena inside. It usually loses a lot of it's leaves but they come back out when I bring it out in the spring.

Slightly OT but I was in Tuscany a couple of yeaars ago on a garden tour and one of the places we visited had a lemon verbena that was well over 6 ft. tall. I could have jumped right in the middle of it because I love that fragrance. Believe me, mine is not THAT big! That sucker was a TREE. I was so impressed with that and the beautiful, huge, pots of lemon trees. We all see or hear things we're envious of at one time or another.
jude


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RE: overwintering rosemary

Florrie,
I live in Michigan. I have found that if the Rosemary is planted in the ground, it does not really like to be dug up and bought inside. Plant one in a pot and leave it outside, then bring in gradually toward the end of summer, it shoiuld do fine. Mine is 5 years old and is doing well. Only mistake I ever made was to plant it in the ground, then try to dig up and bring it in. I always buy a new one to plant outside if I want one in my herb garden, or just set the planter out there. They do want to be misted often during the winter when inside and need lots of light. I keep Taragon, and Thyme in the house during the winter also, but again, don't dig up my plants as those are perenials here. One of the only things I miss during the winter is Basil.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I have tried several times to bring Rosemary inside but it just doesn't do well. It usually ends up with powdery mildew even after I try to treat it.
So I keep it as long as it lasts and then pitch it out.
Some may be lucky enough to have the ideal conditions for it to grow but most of us don't.So don't worry about it and get a new plant in the Spring.


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RE: overwintering rosemary

I know this is an old thread, but hopefully it will still be helpful to someone.

I searched in vain for a way to keep rosemary alive through the winter, and after two years in a row of bringing a plant inside in the fall only to watch it die, I stumbled across a way by accident.

Last fall when my rosemary plant died, I took a cutting from my friend's healthy plant and put it in a jar of water on a sunny south-facing windowsill to root. After it grew roots, I thought it looked so happy, why take it out and stick it in a pot?

So I just left it...all winter. I didn't do anything to it other than top off its water, which became quite green with algae. It grew a massive root system in its jar, and it even blossomed purple flowers. It's "parent," my friend's plant, did die over the winter, incidentally. Now it's nearly April and it still looks wonderful, and as soon as all danger of frost is past, I will plant it in the ground, then take another cutting from it next fall!


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