If you experience cold winters, follow these tips to keep your potted rosemary alive inside.I brought my beautiful potted rosemary inside before winter set in, only to have it die within a month.Like my other houseplants, I had given it what Mark Shepard of Restoration Agriculture calls the STUN treatment—Sheer Total Utter Neglect.The following spring I headed to the farmers’ market to replace the unlucky herb plant.If you live in USDA growing zones 7-10, where the ever-flowering rosemary shrub is used as an anchor in the perennial landscape, you probably think I’m a little cooky.In our neck of the woods, however, USDA hardiness zone 6, rosemary rarely survives the freezing winters outdoors.Rosemary is a native Mediterranean plant, hailing from a region of dry, well-drained soil and hot, sunny temps.Incidentally, other Mediterranean herbs have similar characteristics and will do well using the following suggestions: lavender and sage specifically; thyme and oregano are a bit more adaptable but will thrive with these conditions.Rosemary is called an “upside-down plant” because it likes dry roots and prefers to absorb moisture from the air through its foliage.In addition to growing your plant in a pot with a drainage hole, you need to take an extra step: Add a layer of gravel or small rocks to the drainage pan, so that the pot actually sits on top of the rocks, rather than in the pan.Because the plant likes to absorb moisture from the air, it will enjoy the water as it evaporates from the pan.For that reason, and because rosemary is an “upside-down plant”—liking dry roots but moist foliage—fill a spray bottle with water and mist the foliage once or twice a week.If your plant seems to be struggling, you can actually cover the foliage with a plastic bag for a time to hold in more moisture and to reduce the shock of the transition from outdoors to indoors.Each spring, evaluate your rosemary’s size, repot it in new soil, and prune the roots as needed.Using sharp garden scissors, cut about 2 inches of root matter off the bottom and sides before repotting it with new soil.It may seem like a lot of work to keep a potted rosemary plant happy indoors, but it’s an easy procedure once you get the hang of it. .
How to Dry Rosemary, Step by Step
Fact is, while I love to infuse a drink with sprigs of rosemary, stuff them in a chicken's cavity, or tempura-fry them, it's rare that I'll use up the entire bunch in the week that the herb lasts when stored in the fridge.Allow them to dry for about 2 weeks, checking regularly to make sure they aren't becoming moldy or sun-damaged, until they the needles become brittle and begin to fall off.Once dry, separate the sprigs from the tough stems and store the leaves in an airtight container.After rinsing and drying the sprigs, cut them down so that they fit the dehydrator trays and spread them out evenly.Pop them in at around 95°F to 115°F (or, if you're in a really humid area, up to 125°F), for 1-4 hours, checking periodically until brittle needles fall off easily.Once dry, separate the sprigs from the tough stems and store the leaves in an airtight container. .
Tips on Rosemary Leaves Dying and Turning Brown
Although some of your garden plants can withstand a light frost, the tender tips of the rosemary plant die back any time the temperature falls below freezing.The dead tips can be pruned back to live tissue in the spring, and the plant will begin growing again.Water.Soak the soil thoroughly when you water, and then allow it to dry completely before watering again. .
How to Grow Rosemary Plants
Space rosemary plants 2 to 3 feet apart in an area with abundant sunlight and rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.Before planting, set your garden up for success by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil.Promote spectacular growth by feeding rosemary regularly with a water-soluble plant food.Harvest rosemary stems by snipping them with sharp gardening shears. .
Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Rosemary Plants
Hailing from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, rosemary does best in warm areas with fair humidity, where it can grow into a shrub several feet in height. .
Problems With Indoor Rosemary
Most rosemary puts on new growth during the winter, but the stems are usually thin and leggy as the plant reaches for more light.The plant will produce additional sturdy growth in the summer, but in the meantime you’ll get to use these fragrant, fresh leaves in your meals.Check the soil surface every three or four days if the plant is growing in a southern-facing window and water it deeply when it’s dry. .
How to Protect Rosemary Plants in the Winter
If you live on the edge of rosemary’s winter survival zone, in Zone 8 or 9, you’ll need to provide extra protection for your plants if you want them to overwinter outdoors.One option is to cover them with floating row covers.Another option is to prune and mulch your plants right before temperatures dip below freezing.Mulch also protects the soil from cycles of freezing and thawing, helping to keep soil temperatures stable.You can read more about mulching to protect plants in winter here.If you live in Zone 7 or below and your plants are growing in the ground outside, you’ll need to pot them up and take them indoors away from the cold.You’ll need to dig up your plants before the first frost has a chance to do any damage.Leave the plant outside for a few days to acclimate to its new container, provided there is no frost in the forecast.A lightly heated garage or hallway is a good option, as warm indoor air can cause the plant to dry out. .