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Killed Rosemary plant #n, wintering over inside

 
Ann Torrence
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Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Every year, I bring a potted rosemary plant inside. Every year, I kill it. I can keep African violets going for years. I even get amaryllis to rebloom once in a while. But the elusive rosemary....so sad. I live in zone 5-6, and we have a rosemary plant in the garden that may have survived the -5F temps last month. But I would like to have rosemary year-round.

On the other hand, the basil I started in August is doing fantastic. It's even flowered more than once. I'm thinking I might start cuttings for spring rather than seeds. That would fall in the win column for sure.

What are you four-season gardeners coddling indoors this winter and how is it going? Tips and tricks?
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Here in zone 7b I've had one rosemary plant survive outdoors one winter, and many more die. Last year I brought one in. It died. This year I have one in with my tender tree seedlings, in a busted chest freezer that I'm using as a sort of freeze shelter or makeshift cold frame. Lid open (unless we get worse weather than we have) but the bottom is filled with 5-gallon plastic jugs of water with the tender plants stacked on top. Plants shouldn't freeze hard until the water does, and that hasn't happened yet. Fingers crossed.

I have essentially zero inside window space for plants. I have one aloe vera under artificial light (hanging in there so far) and some chestnut seedlings that sprouted in my fridge at a very bad time.
 
Marissa Creston
Posts: 31
Location: Flathead, Montana
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I keep mine on a shelf in a bay window. They get plenty of diffuse light, but almost no direct sunshine. (We have consistent cloud cover for most of the winter.) I keep the house between 55 and 60. And it is probably a few degrees cooler right next to the window. I suspect the combination of low light and cool temperatures works to keep the plants dormant. Maybe your house is just too warm?
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I have killed my share of rosemary plants, both in the house and out! It's finicky, it likes high humidity and dry feet.

The little rosemary tree I have has been out in a half-buried pot for the summer and in for the winter for at least five years now. I also have a new one I got this year which has been very happy and productive. I have a little pineapple sage tree which is also relatively old. That one likes wet feet and does not like to be dry for long! Tricky. I will attach photos of my systems. One rosemary is on bricks in an old ceramic wash basin. I keep water under it but only give it a good soaking once a week. The little rosemary has a little teacup in its pot that I keep full of water. I'm letting a dandelion hang out in that pot.

Both kinds of plants will parent many others, rooted from cuttings. I root the pineapple sage and give it as gifts and plant it all over the garden. It makes good tea blends and the flowers are beautiful and delicious. It roots readily. Rosemary is trickier to root but is very popular, healthy to consume, and worth the trouble.
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Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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The pineapple sage pot is sitting in another pot of soil that has a chunk of punky wood in. This helps me keep it well watered. The roots creep out of the top pot into the bottom pot over thewwinter, I water both.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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I have had 2 successes with keeping Rosemary inside. The first success was in the winter of 2012-2013, the plant was in a Northwest facing window where it might have been cooler. The following winter, after we had moved, I brought it inside and it died. My theory was that the window where it was does not get much direct sunlight. Last year, I brought a new plant we got in 2014 inside at work where I get lots of early morning sun. The plant survived that winter. I did the same thing this year and it seems to still be okay, although it dried a bit over the holidays.

When I brought it in in November it even flowered! I had never seen rosemary flowers.

This year, I want to take some cuttings, start some more rosemary, and try leaving one plant outside under tons of mulch. I heard from some people in much colder areas that it worked for them.
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Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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Well this makes me feel spoiled. Rosemary overwinters quite happily outdoors around Victoria for me; the biggest problem is it can become too big and crowd out other stuff.

While at my previous apartment I volunteered at a redo of a community center kitchen garden in fernwood where we tore out a rosemary bush that must have covered 120 square feet. I took a shoot with an inch-thick length of root home, buried it, and in the course of a couple months it turned into far more rosemary than we would ever need, harvestable pretty well year-round.


On the other hand I've never had much luck with basil, it does well for a little while then dies.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Well this makes me feel spoiled. Rosemary overwinters quite happily outdoors around Victoria for me; the biggest problem is it can become too big and crowd out other stuff.

While at my previous apartment I volunteered at a redo of a community center kitchen garden in fernwood where we tore out a rosemary bush that must have covered 120 square feet. I took a shoot with an inch-thick length of root home, buried it, and in the course of a couple months it turned into far more rosemary than we would ever need, harvestable pretty well year-round.


On the other hand I've never had much luck with basil, it does well for a little while then dies.


You are spoiled indeed! I once had a wwoofer from Croatia whose family had a place on a Croatian island in the Mediterranean. She describes it as covered with rosemary, lavender, bay and oregano. Sounds heavenly!

I always keep my rosemary in a south facing window over the winter, it seems to like the direct sunlight here. My main trouble is the dry air from the heat in winter.
 
Becky Proske
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Location: Wisconsin, USA (zone 4b)
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I've had good luck with overwintering rosemary indoors. I don't have a greenhouse.

In the past I've carried over the same rosemary plant through multiple seasons by growing it in a large pot and moving it inside before autumn frost. The plant got large and quite woody and was eventually "retired" (planted directly into the garden in the 3rd spring).

Winter is a plant's rest period. I find this helpful to remember. They don't need much sometimes, especially when it come to watering. Here are a few of my "tricks" based on my experiences.

I now prefer to take cuttings in late summer from my rosemary growing in the garden. I keep the stems in water on a windowsill until they root. Those that do root will get planted in soil and spend the winter on a south or west facing windowsill. I've found that little rooted cuttings in small pots ( 4 - 6 inch) overwinter better than large plants. It is easier to provide adequate light for a small plant. This also produces a nice sized transplant for the next garden season. Smaller plants have been more resilliant for me.

I have grown rosemary in various indoor temps, ranging from warm and dry to cool and humid. I've discovered the importance of keeping the plant out of drafts, especially warm dry air from a heat source. Rosemary likes cooler temps at night. I think rosemary can tolerate low indoor temps (65 F) really well if they are not over watered and the soil is kept on the dry side.

I typically water my plants about once a week. We have more overcast days than sunny days here in the north during the winter. I try to water on sunny days when possible. I assume this is when the plants are most active. I have also taken the time to collect pails full of snow and bring it inside to melt. I use this to water my houseplants after it has sat long enough to thaw and become room tempurature. I feel this water source is healthier and more dynamic for the plants than tap water. And hey, its free.
 
Becky Proske
Posts: 43
Location: Wisconsin, USA (zone 4b)
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:

This year, I want to take some cuttings, start some more rosemary, and try leaving one plant outside under tons of mulch. I heard from some people in much colder areas that it worked for them.


I have thoughts to do the same! My quest for perpetual rosemary with less work might involve the trial of a low growing, creeping form of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus').
 
Marissa Creston
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Location: Flathead, Montana
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Matu Collins wrote:I have killed my share of rosemary plants, both in the house and out! It's finicky, it likes high humidity and dry feet.


I always thought that rosemary thrived in dry environments? Although I suppose I am fortunate enough not to have to worry about that. We have in floor heating, so our house stays comfortably humid.
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