Rosemary in Winter


I’m not a houseplant person–let me start by saying that.  I do OK with the hibiscus and the cacti and the jade and aloes.  But my rosemary plant is never happy in winter.  Her leaves dry up until there’s nothing left but the tips of newest growth, and I don’t dare to snip and use any of it for fear of killing her outright.

Poor Rosie

Poor Rosie

She might be a little cramped right now, so I’m considering re-potting her (there’s a little bit of root sticking out the bottom from when she was sunk in the garden bed last summer).  I’m guessing a big part of the problem is how dry the house gets in winter–I do run a humidifier occasionally, but it seems like it’d have to be pretty damp in here for Rosie to be happy.

So, I’ll go down to the basement and mix up a little peat moss and sand, plus maybe add a few crushed eggshells and used tea leaves from the compost bowl.  I suppose I could also go out and pull some crushed leaves from the leaf bin as well–that’ll have to be the organic material as I don’t have any unfrozen composted manure or the like.

Let me put this out to the local readers: how do you ensure the happiness and health of your rosemary plant in winter?  How much light do you give her?  How much water?  Do you mist her with a spray bottle?  Set her on a tray with water and pebbles?

I’ve gotten this particular plant through one winter already, and she flourishes when I put her outside for the season, but right now she seems fairly close to death’s door, and we have a few months to go before she can enjoy the outside again.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. bright sun, damp but not wet soil with good drainage in a clay pot, and here’s the kicker: 50 to 60 degrees max temp. Maybe keep it on an enclosed sunporch or in a sunny spot in the garage, except when it’s absolutely brutal, artic temps outside.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on January 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks, Cherrie! I don’t have a sun porch or a garage, but I do have a sunny southern basement window (when the snow hasn’t covered it up). That might do it.

    –re.

  3. Posted by deborah on January 4, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    I’m with Cherrie. My plants sit in a north window, bright but cool. I water them well once a week, no more. Here’s the REAL kicker. About 5 years ago, I read an article that said they should be kept cut way back, not allowing any new growth at all until just before you’re ready to put them back outdoors. It works like a charm, plus I have lots of snippings for immediate use or drying. Good luck.

  4. I wish I’d known this sooner – I think I’ve lost at least five nice rosemary plants, five winters in a row.
    Thanks for posting the question, Rebecca!

  5. Posted by Maria on January 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Sometimes plants are shocked into dropping leaves when brought inside for the winter. They’ve adjusted to the cooler weather and then we heat them up – suddenly.

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