Small rosemary trees, to give as gifts or decorate your home, are everywhere right now. Groceries, big box stores, not to mention nurseries...are all peddling these aromatic herbs in various forms: trees, standards, double or triple standards.
I have been known to give them as gifts (usually with an accompanying rosemary-infused recipe), absent their festive foil packaging (replaced with a more appropriate and attractive container...like a mossy terra-cotta pot.)
But truthfully, most of the time I am buying them for myself. And not for the dry, heated interior of my Christmas-decked halls, but for next spring and summer...when they will really be happy...outside, with good air circulation and strong light.
If I can hold them over that long. Because these inexpensive shaped rosemary specimens are not as easily found then.
So coddle them I do, keeping them alive, if not beautiful,
until the weather warms the following year when they can move outdoors.
Here are some tips for getting them to survive the winter indoors:
* Put them outside whenever possible. Just remember to bring them back in when temps dip much below freezing.
* DON'T LET THEM DRY OUT! Unlike some water stressed plants that can recover, rosemary cannot. Once they get too dry, they are done for. Burn them in an outside fireplace to make them useful to the very end; the fragrance is wonderful.
* While indoors, place them in a south facing window, if possible. They will get gangly in weak light, so the stronger the light exposure the better. Wait till spring to start feeding.
*Of course, if you are just enjoying them for the holidays, place them anywhere their piney scent, lovely form, and dark green color will be appreciated. Decorate them if you like...they make a cute little tree for your kitchen.
If they survive until warm weather rolls around, they might need repotting. Potted rosemary of any size is notoriously root bound when first purchased.
* Lastly, give them plenty of space and air circulation. They are prone to powdery mildew and spider mite. In fact...place them in a pebble-filled saucer with water. They will appreciate the extra humidity. Just
remember that air circulation!
A lot of tending, I know. But next spring you'll be glad you made the effort.
For more info, how about watching LC and me this Friday on Newschannel 4 at 4:30? We'll be talking about gifting and caring for rosemary and other traditional holiday plants.