The Q&A Archives: Dried Out Rosemary Topiary

Question: I received a rosemary topiary for Christmas. I did not transplant it but have been following the watering instructions (the plant came in a basket with a plastic lining surrounding the soil). I have it located in a sunny three sided window box that receives direct morning sun and good light throughout the rest of the day. I should also mention that it has been cold in our area and I am wondering if I should move the plant, but to where? The plant is now very dry and I am wondering if there is anyway I can revive my poor plant.

Answer: Rosemaries are very fussy plants and seem to prefer a cool, bright location with excellent air circulation (but away from drafts) and adequate humidity. They need a slightly moist soil that never dries out and yet is not soggy. In some cases the move from grower to your home is a big shock to them, and in other cases they just seem to die inexplicably about midwinter. In still other cases they seem to thrive on benign neglect so please don't think it is your fault if a rosemary does not do well for you in the house. If it is very dry and the foliage is coming off it may be dead; it may also simply be very stressed but will come back for you. You might try cutting it back by about a third or so and setting it in the best approximation of conditions you have and see if it can stay alive until spring, when you can move it outdoors. You should also check it for mites which can be controlled with insecticidal soap and the occasional strong spray of water (under the kitchen sink sprayer for example).

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