The Q&A Archives: Winter Exposure for Rosemary

Question: I have 2 garden areas with Rosemary and very different growth patterns. The more exposed site has spindly plants that have lived outside sinc 2001 and that bloom regularly every spring. The other area that has magnificent tall bushly plants has just experienced winter dieback of almost all of the 10 plants. These plants were first planted in 2001 and half of them replaced in 2003 after heavy winter snow. They are Monrovia Tuscan Blue with hardiness to -10 to 0 degrees F, colder than we have ever had.It has northeastern exposure but a wall at its back. It definitely has full sun most of the summer day. It has never bloomed. Should we give up on the rosemary in a site of this exposure?

Answer: Unfortunately, I checked and Tuscan Blue is only hardy to zone 8, or 10 to 20 degrees and your zip code places you in the coldest part of zone 7. That, combined with a northern exposure in the winter and possibly a less well drained site would probably account for losing them. (Snow is actually a good insulator so snow alone is not to blame.) You might have two different varieties, possibly something a bit hardier such as Arp or Hill Hardy, which might help explain why they look so different as well. I'm really sorry about your plants but I do think you were lucky to keep the going as well as you have. They do best in a sunny site with protection from winter winds and also perfect drainage, for this plant winter wet is as damaging as the excessive cold. I hope this helps.

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