In recent years it’s been popular to borrow rosemary from the herb garden and shape it into a miniature Christmas tree. This is really no surprise because the essential oils in rosemary produce a scent similar to pine trees. Rosemary’s natural evergreen shape and dark green needle-like leaves complete the picture.
Beautiful though they are, most rosemary holiday bushes often don’t last beyond the holiday season. Rosemary is an outdoor shrub, not an indoor tropical houseplant. The techniques homeowners use to successfully grow philodendrons and ferns indoors will kill rosemary.
Save that Rosemary
Here are a few tips to keep this from happening to your holiday rosemary plant once you bring it home. Rosemary thrives with good light and very little watering. Never, never overwater it as this will damage the roots. To avoid root rot wait until the top inch of soil is dry to the touch before re-watering. If you push your finger in the soil and it’s still moist, wait a few days and check again.
Rosemary is really a full-sun shrub native to the Mediterranean. Place your new plant near a south-facing sunny window. Keep the rosemary bush away from fireplaces or heat vents. These will make the air too hot and dry.
When spring comes, it’s time to move the rosemary bush outside. Once daytime high temperatures reach 55 degrees, find a full-sun location for your plant. Transfer your rosemary tree to a terracotta pot. The clay pot will help wick excess water out of the soil and minimize the risk of root rot. Use fast draining potting soil to keep the roots on the dry side. Fertilize monthly to maintain health, just as you would other potted plants. Prune lightly, but regularly, during the growing season to maintain its desired shape.
With a little care through the year your rosemary bush will remain healthy and be ready to shine again for the holidays next season.