If you were to ask most people to name a “Christmas plant”, they would say Poinsettia. It was obvious when I went to my local nursery a couple of days ago, that it is THE most popular Christmas plant. A huge truck was off loading pallet after pallet, and the buggies at the check out counter were full of the pretty red, pink, and white flowers.
But I wasn’t there to get a poinsettia. I have to admit they aren’t a favorite of mine. I feel guilty throwing them away after the season, and I’m not interested in keeping them in my dark basement until April. I was there to pick up a rosemary plant to give a friend as a gift. Rosemary is another plant you often see purchased at Christmas. It’s a warm welcome of green in the dreary winter. And the smell is wonderful.
Here are a few tips to keep your rosemary healthy during the winter months.
- Buy your plant at your local nursery, not at the big box stores. They are more knowledgeable, have healthier plants, and sell plants which do well in your area.
- Repot your plant when you get home Take your plant out of the pot. It should easily come out of the pot. Look at the roots.
Most of these plants have been grown in greenhouses for the Holiday season and can become root bound. If the roots are tightly bound around the plant, or coming out of the bottom holes, it is root bound. This plant needs to be repotted.
- Gently tear the roots apart with your fingers. If you are left with long stringy roots, cut those back an inch or two.
- Pick the right pot. Clay pots are the best, but any pot must have drainage holes. Rosemary comes from the Mediterranean region and will not tolerate wet feet. A clay saucer with rocks to sit the pot on will keep the plant from getting “wet feet”, and the leaves of the plant will appreciate the moisture it gets from the evaporating water.
- Pick the right soil Rosemary likes dry airy soil. This is where I differ from some people with my repotting soil. I just use compost. I had mushroom compost left over from my fall garden so I used that. You can also use a cactus potting soil, and add a little compost or worm castings to it.
- Water correctly Even though you have your plant sitting on gravel with water, you still need to water indoors, especially in the winter when the heat is on. I water my rosemary when the soil feels dry when I poke my finger in it. Also, I spritz it with water about once a week. Speaking of water. I keep my watering cans outside to catch rain water, and use that as often as I can to water my indoor plants. After all, nature knows best. If I run out, I use bottled water instead of water out of the sink faucet.
- Place in a sunny window Rosemary thrives in the sun, so be sure you place it in a sunny window.
- Fertilize Rosemary is a very light feeder. I haven’t had to fertilize mine that is planted outdoors, but if the leaves began to look faded you can use an organic shrub fertilizer. I have found that adding compost in the spring and fall keeps it well fertilized.
Keeping your rosemary plant is not hard if you follow a few simple tips. The rewards of the scent, and fresh rosemary leaves in your dishes is well worth it!
Happy Winter Gardening!
Did you know in herbal lore Rosemary played an important role in the first Christmas? You can read about it here: Christmas Herbs: Rosemary
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