Is it worth planting a Rosemary Christmas plant?

I bought a Rosemary bush this year pruned in a Christmas tree shape.

Christmas is finished and I’m debating whether it’s worth planting outside. It’s 26 degrees in Arkansas this morning. Is it going to die the first night?

Anyone have experience with Rosemary? Are they hardy plants? Do they like most soils?

Right now, it’s two feet tall and in my bay window. I water it every 5 days. It sheds a lot but seems ok so far. Would it be better keeping it inside until Spring?
I love the rosemary smell. But, I’m not sure the dry air in the house is good for it.

I have rosemary in my garden that I just used last week. I had to dig it out of the 2’ of snow that covered it. It was fine. Does that answer your question, at least the one about “is rosemary hardy?”

It sounds like your plant is hardy. :slight_smile:

I’m confused because some web sites say it has to come inside in the winter. Others say it doesn’t. So, I’m trying to figure it out. :slight_smile:

This site is way, way cautious. They seem to think it won’t survive any cold.


That doesn’t seem right. I’ve heard too many people say they have it in their yards.

Most rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is hardy to around USDA zone 9, which means that it can survive temperatures to around 20-25 degrees. Supposedly, there are a few cultivars that can survive in colder zones.

In any case, I wouldn’t plant anything outside now, in mid-winter. Any plant that has been grown indoors, no matter how hardy, needs time to harden off (become gradually adjusted to outdoor extremes) before being planted in the ground. It also needs time (at least six weeks) to get its roots established in the soil before the ground freezes. That is not going to happen this time of year in Arkansas.

If you want to try it out in the ground, your best bet is to wait until spring to plant it. I can’t grow rosemary in the ground where I live, but I have had good luck keeping a plant indoors during winter in a cool sunny window. Rosemary does like cooler temperatures. If your plant is shedding, either you are not watering enough, or the temps are too warm.

Thank you for your help. I’ll do my best to keep the rosemary alive through the winter, and then plant in early spring. Meanwhile, we may try some of the leaves on some chicken dishes. :wink:

I saw some of those at the Kroger on Markham. Some varieties are hardy and some are not. I’ve never gotten it to overwinter just West of Little Rock. I’ve seen a virtual hedge of it growing near downtown, though.

Good luck!

Rosemary, in my experience, is exceptionally hardy and easy to grow. I usually kept a bush of it in my yard and it wintered through even the coldest winters just fine, remaining evergreen (which it is). of course, this was in western Oregon, so not subzero or anything.

Not so sure about the wisdom of trying to transplant it in the winter, though…the shock might just kill it. Better to wait until spring if possible and give it time to get established before next year.

The only way I have ever killed rosemary is 1. overwatering it in a pot indoors and 2. NOT watering it at all in a hanging basket on the balcony. :o

That would be my suggestion. Once its planted and established, maybe cover it during really hard freezes to be on the safe side.

I love our rosemary plant. The fresh stuff is great on chicken, fish, in many soups, salads, some cooking styles of other meats. It also makes a nice air scenter/freshener when clipped and just put out somewhere. I also like to take a bunch of it, put in a bottle, and fill it with basalmic vinegar, making a nice simple aromatic salad dressing.

I’ll chime in, too, on overwintering a rosemary plant indoors. It is VERY easy to overwater one, and that will kill it deader than a doornail. You want to let the soil get bone dry between waterings, and assuming it’s in a pot with drainage holes and is sitting in a saucer, don’t let it sit in the water that accumulates in the saucer after watering. Give it about an hour after watering and then dump the water in the saucer.

Monstera D. is right about a cool sunny window, which can be kind of hard to achieve. If every place that’s sunny is warm, go for cool with bright indirect light. I had good success with a basement room that stayed really cool but had a large glass block window.

The good news that, if it croaks…hey, dried rosemary! If you have a whole plant’s worth of dried rosemary, soak the branches in water and use them like smoking chips in your grill. Yum!

Our church’s old parish hall (a concrete block start-up building since replaced) had four big rosemary bushes growing outside its entrance; apparently Raleigh’s Upper South climate (snow rare, winter lows often in the 20s F, negative single digits C) was just fine for them.

I’ve had Rosemary winter over outdoors in a seaside town in southeastern Massachusetts, which is planting zone 7/6, when the plants have had southern exposure and some protection from the wind.

I’ve also had Rosemary die outdoors, so it really depends, in my area, on where the plant is located and how many really cold periods we have.

Rosemary doesn’t like to be too warm or or really dry. My mother successfully winters over Rosemary in her unheated garage.

I haven’t brought in my Rosemary yet and earlier in the week it was under 18 inches of snow. Still looks much better than it did in the house last year.

Some varieties are hardy and some are not. The question, of course, is what variety is sold at Kroger, and will there still be one at the Markham street store when I go by after work Monday?

This link is from the USDA.

Don’t plant it now, too late to get the roots established in order to get through the winter. Rosemary can be winter hardy, but needs to gain good root mass in order to do so, preferably with well-drained soils. Wet winter soil is a death knell. Wet clay southern soils ---- :frowning:

Plant it in spring, in well-drained soil that doesn’t get soggy in winter. In zone 6, you can help it by siting in a place that gets good winter sun, or a place that has a heat mass gain, like up against a building or stone wall, with shelter from northern wind chill. Since rosemary is an evergreen, the shelter from drying northern winds is important, really helps the Mediterranean native to overwinter beyond it’s normal scope.

In overwintering it indoors, I’d take a look at the soil it came in. If it is very peaty and moisture rententive, well, that was fine for greenhouse growth, and “eye candy” store appeal, but not for best longterm health of the plant. If it gets wet like a sponge, replant it in a better drained soil mixture, some sand or gravel. Bright sunny window, water sparingly once a week.

I found a fellow poster from central Arkansas. It’s indeed a small world. :slight_smile: ,and nice having some company.

I got my plant at a nursery in early Nov. I bet they are cheaper at the grocery store.

I’ve learned a lot from this thread. I’ll definitely plant it on the south side of my house, and protect it from northern winds. Assuming it makes it through the winter in the house.

I wonder if I need to add some sand or gravel to the soil to improve drainage? My soil isn’t clay, but it’s a rich brown soil that does hold water.

I had a couple of different varieties of rosemary in my backyard in California: one was regular and one was called “forest rosemary”. I never tried to eat the forest rosemary so I am not sure whether it was edible. It looked woodier and more bushlike (probably hardier) than the regular rosemary, which was more like ground cover.

Both of them grew like mad, but in that part of the country, you could probably grow tobacco from a cigarette butt.

I was at my brother’s place near Canberra for Christmas. It is below freezing most nights in winter and often over 100 in summer. They are on a farm and can’t afford water for the garden due to the drought. When my SIL and I were cooking on Christmas eve I asked if she had any rosemary for the lamb marinade. She just walked outside and cut some off their bush. So, really hardy.

I wonder that, myself.

In Arksas, I guess it would depend on what part of the state you are. If you have clay soil, amend with organic material, and some gravel or permatill, and build the bed up so it gets drainage. And, as said, rosemary will overwinter better with a winter heatmass of a rock, or stone wall, protection from the northwinds that blow through there.

Don’t mix sand with heavy clay soil, as that can be rather cement-like in the wrong proportions. Sand + clay+ good compost is a better mix.

I would take some cuttings from the plant - they’re ludicrously easy to root - you just take some of the semi-twiggy tips, cut to about four inches long, strip off the leaves on the lower inch and push them into a pot of moist compost, then place the pot and cuttings in a plastic bag, inflate a little and twist-tie the top.

On a not-too-sunny windowsill, they’ll root in a couple of weeks - when they start showing new growth, open the top of the bag and water like an ordinary houseplant - then plant out in the spring. Rosemary is a fast-growing shrub - knee-high at least in the first year.

Then just use the rest of the Christmas tree-shaped rosemary bush for culinary purposes. One of my favourite ways to use Rosemary is in focaccia - like this: http://www.atomicshrimp.com/st/content/focaccia

Definitely worth keeping. They produce a tiny blue flower that hummingbirds love (even though I thought they were partial to red) or at least they do in the tropics. I have no idea as to their winter survival ability but other than that they are an impossible to kill plant that will grow into a tall handsome bush that will perfume your house in hot days and when it rains.