The Q&A Archives: Overwintering Rosemary

Question: Every autumn, I bring my rosemary indoors to overwinter in pots. It does okay for the first few months, then starts dying back. How can I save it?

Answer: Rosemary likes cool (60F), moist conditions in winter. Unfortunately, most homes are too hot and dry for rosemary to grow, so the plants tend to dry out after a few months. Here's what I do: Dig the plant from the garden in October. Trim off any damaged roots, and prune off one-third of the new growth. Then pot the plant in a soilless mix. Leave the potted rosemary in the garden for two to three weeks to acclimate to the pot. As long as the temperatures don't get below 30F, it will be safe outside. After the potted rosemary is accustomed to the pot, bring it indoors and place it in a cool, south-facing window away from any heat source. Mist the plant every couple of days, and water it just enough to keep the soil moist. Rosemary doesn't really grow much in the winter indoors; you just want to keep the plant alive. In spring, once you see signs of new growth, begin to give the plant more water mixed with a dilute, complete fertilizer. Transplant rosemary into the garden after all danger of frost has passed.

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