The Q&A Archives: Rosemary

Question: We had a very hearty Rosemary bush that we planted in a deck pot for years and every spring, it would come back even better than the year before. This year it died off suddenly in April so we bought another one, thinking it had ran its course. I replaced the soil in the pot it was in and the new plant thrived for a few months. Now, with the exception of a few fronds, this one has died off as well. We live in Chantilly Virginia which I believe is in zone 7A. Thanks!

Answer: How disappointing for you. Rosemary loves sunshine and heat. About the only thing that will cause distress is too much water. Even though you've used the pot before, and even though you used fresh potting soil, things are just not quite right with your plant. I would prune it back to encourage healthy new growth and I would cut back on the watering. Stick your finger into the potting soil; if it is still moist an inch below the surface, it has enough water - if it is dry 1 1/2 to 2" below the surface, it should be watered. One of the best things about commercial potting soil is that it retains water (most plant roots love that), but one of the bad things about commercial potting soil is that it can retain too much water for plants that like their roots on the dry side such as rosemary and lavender. If you lose this rosemary, try adding sand or some packaged cactus mix into the potting soil to facilitate drainage. If it's any consolation, the rosemary you had for years sounds as though it adapted to the growing conditions and your new rosemary is a little more persnickity. Hope this one survives!

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