Ah yes, the Rosemary tree. Admit it. You bought one or even more than one this holiday season? It's okay to admit it. You aren't alone. The big box stores and many nurseries were selling them like hotcakes. Well, okay, more like mini-pancakes that you pop in the microwave to warm up. It is after all, an economic crisis, so many of you who looked at them might have put them back on the shelf. But those of you who bought them have all come to the same fork in the road. And you're calling or emailing me during your travels.
Why? Simple. The Rosemary tree is dying. Oh my gosh! Dying! How could that be? I paid good money for this plant! I am loving it, watering it, talking to it and it is ....oh gasp....dying!
Okay, first...Rosemary is not a TREE! It is an herbaceous perennial. Meaning it is classified as an herb (which gives me the ability to talk about it with some knowledge...convenient isn't it?), it hails from the Mediterranean portion of the world meaning it likes hot sunny days in rocky soil with minimal amount of moisture. I know what you're doing right now. You're looking at that gallon container thinking to yourself...hmm, that's not rocky soil. Nope, it's not. Not even close. Most of the sculpted (more on that in a minute, bear with me) Rosemary trees are grown in a very warm climate or in a greenhouse in a very warm climate so they can grow large enough to pot up for holiday sales. Usually nurseries in California handle this type of product. Here's the trick though. If you will gently separate your Rosemary tree in the middle you will find not one but likely three stems or trunks depending upon how large the tree is by now. What the growers of these trees do is scrunch at least three smaller Rosemary and then once it grows a little larger, sculpts the scrunched together Rosemary into its tree-like shape. They then feed and spray the Rosemary with pesticide to ensure that bugs don't hide down inside the thick foliage. They are then shipped all over the U.S.
So, why are the Rosemary trees dying? They do not like their environment for the most part. Living inside the house in a smallish pot does not make them happy. They like being outside in a garden or in a really, really large pot. They have been scrunched together for months at a time and portions of the plant have never seen sunlight. That portion is going to die. And last but not least, they are probably being over watered because you all are loving and kind hearted people who want to help the plant live by giving what it doesn't want...water.
If your Rosemary tree is not dead or starting to die yet then I suggest taking the Rosemary out of the pot and gently pry the plants apart. Trim each of the plants that you pull out of the pot and plant them in individual pots that are much larger. They'll look scraggly and funny for awhile. Come spring when the ground warms plant them in a well draining area in full sun.
OR...throw the whole mess out and order some healthy and naturally grown Rosemary from your favorite herb farm. :) Shipping begins in March weather permitting.