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Growing Tips for Herbs: Why is My Rosemary Dying?

By Stephanie Nelson

Tags: Growing Conditions, Common Herbs, Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, Why Are My Herbs Dying, Garden, Tips, Q and A,


Q: Why are my herbs dying?

ARosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is one of my favorite herbs. The perennial herb thrives in warm sunny conditions and germinates in temperatures that range from 65 degrees to 75 degrees.

Rosemary is sensitive to frost, cold temperatures and sudden freezes. Especially if you live above Zone 8, I recommended that you plant your rosemary in pots rather than in the ground so it can survive the winters. The exception to this is Arp, which is the only hardy strand of rosemary that can handle Zone 5 temperatures.

The pH in the soil can vary from 4.5 to 8.7 and it can tolerate anywhere between 12 and 100 inches of water. Because this is such a wide range, it can be difficult to find the right balance.

Photo by geishaboy500/Courtesy Flickr 

Last week, Debby asked “Part of the plants branches have turned brown; is this from lack of water or too much?” Although I have not seen Debby’s rosemary plant, I think the problem lies in the watering amount. Last summer I was a little water happy and a few of my rosemary branches turned brown and the leaves fell off. To remedy this, I reduced the amount of water and watered less often. I think Debby’s plant will bounce back if it has a good drainage system and is watered less often.

Tips for Keeping Your Rosemary Alive

• Place your rosemary in a warm, sunny location to maximize its growth.

• Find a good watering balance.

• Keep an eye out for weather conditions that could damage your plants and adapt water and fertilizer amounts.

• Don’t be afraid to trim rosemary back, it is healthy to frequently cut branches. However, keep at least 20 percent of the plant in tact.

Do you have problems growing rosemary? What other herbs do you have a difficult time growing?

For further information on growing rosemary, check out Tanya L.K. Denckla’s The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food.

Do you have problems growing rosemary? What herbs do you have a difficult time growing? Let’s chat about it; drop me a comment or email The Herb Companion magazine at