What’s Wrong with My Herbs: How to Grow Rosemary

Respond to rosemary woes with ease. Our expert advises two readers with fading rosemary plants.

| August/September 2012

  • Rosemary can be a tricky plant to grow, especially as the weather changes for the winter.
  • Water your rosemary when the leaves wilt slightly.

Q. I have a potted rosemary plant in my house, and ever since I brought it in for the winter (I live in Wisconsin) it has been turning brown and seems to be dying. I’ve been watering it once a week. Am I overwatering it? I try to keep it in the sun when it shines in the kitchen window. Does it need more sun? Please help.

A. Your rosemary’s symptoms indicate that death is near. Growing rosemary indoors is difficult because dry heat and other indoor conditions are contrary to the needs of this plant. Rosemary’s natural home is the sunny Mediterranean region where the climate is cool and wet during the winter. The best way to keep your plant alive in Wisconsin during the winter is to leave it outside, in partial shade, when the temperature is above freezing.

When wintering rosemary during extended freezing spells, add a grow light to the indoor home of your plant to give it the light it needs. Water it only when the top stem tips droop slightly—then shower the leaves and drench the root ball until it is saturated. This method of watering will wash the house dust off of the leaves, give it the humidity it craves and dampen all of the peat moss around the root system. Only water when the plant shows you it is in need. A light misting between watering days will help the problem of lack of humidity.

Tip: Arid indoor winter air is not pleasing to a rosemary plant. Their native Mediterranean environment is cool and wet during the winter.

Q. I think my rosemary bonsai tree is dying. The tips of the needles were turning black and brown and then falling off, so I thought I was overwatering it. I let it be for a day, and the next morning all the branches except one are dead-looking brown and black, turning gray. We cut off some branches and it appears to be alive at the main stem. Would you advise cutting it down to the trunk?

A. This rosemary is not likely to live. Cutting back to the trunk will not achieve any benefit. I would advise discarding the suffering plant. Keep the pot and the big rocks and start over with a young rosemary and raise it yourself.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me