Growing Great Plants: Holiday Rosemary Tree

We all adore the decorative rosemary trees we see at the big box and grocery store this time of year. Many of us receive them as gifts as well. Keeping them alive, however, seems to be elusive for many of us. I'm the first to admit that I've killed my fair share of indoor rosemaries throughout the years. There are a few tricks which will keep your plant alive indoors so that you can enjoy it outside again for the summer months. It took me quite a while and finally the late Alan Haskell- master of topiaries- gave me these hints to get them through the winter.

Rosemaries thrive in mediterranean climates. The trick to keeping them alive is to try and position them in a situation in your home which mimics this as closely as possible. 

(On a side note: This article applies equally as well to holiday lavender plants which look similar and prefer the same conditions indoors.)

1. They need as cool as possible temperature. They hate warm winter houses.  In my home i place them in the coolest room i have which stays around 55-60 degrees. Rosemaries can take exceptionally cold temperatures. Many people also claim that they prefer a light frost or two outside to begin the process of setting flower buds. As long as your room is above freezing your plants will do well.

2. They want as much sunshine as you can possibly give them. Ideally this means a southern exposure. If you're beginning to catch on that finding a southern exposure with cool temperatures is a little tough in most of our houses you are correct.

3. They need minimal water. Water sparingly only when the soil is dry. Overwatering is the number one cause of death from rotting of the roots. Rosemary are very drought tolerant and don't need much to keep them happy.

If you keep to these three tips, you'll see your rosemary plant not only survive the winter, but thrive once again as the days lengthen when it can be placed outside for the summer season. 


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  • Ulysses Hedrick