Herbs > Rosemary Herb

Reader q&a on rosemary problems:

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General Information
See our page on Rosemary.


Question

For the first time I am growing some herbs in pots on my back porch. I was just wondering, if I wanted to use some rosemary for cooking with, where do I cut from so that it will grow back. This is all very new to me.


The Green Chronicle replies...

Just take the soft stems, new growth that is, for cooking. Rosemary should be harvested on hot sunny days. You can freeze or dry the herb for out of season use. Enjoy your home grown herbs.


Question

Hello,
Last year I had a beautiful, bushy rosemary plant in a pot. I didn't take good care of it over the cold winter, and it appears dead --- however when I went to remove it from the pot I could still smell the rosemary scent.... could this mean I didn't kill it and there is a possibility it will grow back? It's already May and it still looks like twigs, but I'd love to save it if possible! What should I do?
THANKS!


The Green Chronicle replies...

It sounds to me like your rosemary plant is dead. The smell is of the remaining oils of the plant in its dried remains. Cold winters will kill rosemary much of the time, my advice would be to raise or buy a new rosemary plant and this time both protect it from the worst of the cold, and take and pot soft stem cuttings in the summer to give yourself young plants in the case of accident.


Question

I have a rosemary plant/bush that is getting bigger than I want it. Is this a good time to prune it back? Can you tell me how to do it?


The Green Chronicle replies...

This is not a bad time to cut your rosemary back as it will have the rest of the growing season to recover before the colder weather. Cold is the most serious threat to this herb. It is harvested by cutting the soft stems during the growing season, and that offers you the best, and most useful, way to keep it under control in the future. You can dry the harvest, or even freeze it; if you don't use it enough in your own kitchen then give it away to someone who does. With regard to pruning, try to leave some younger growth on the plant, but otherwise feel free to take it back to the size and shape you want. As an insurance against losing this plant, you might like to take some soft stem cuttings and pot them up, leave them somewhere warm to root, and grow yourself a replacement plant or two just in case.


Question

I have a very prolific rosemary "bush" which is about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It has taken over my herb garden. What should I do in regard to pruning?


The Green Chronicle replies...

I think that the best thing to do is to take some cuttings in the summer from soft stems, pot them up and try to make sure that you have a replacement for your rosemary plant. Then cut the parent back to the size you would like. If the plant has good strong growth throughout it should cope quite well with pruning, after all when we harvest rosemary we are constantly pruning it across its growing surface. Rosemary is not all that fond of the cold, and I would advice cutting it back in the springtime, rather as one would with sage, in order to give it time to put on some growth before any harsh weather might threaten it. As far as pruning technique is concerned I don't imagine that there are any hard and fast rules for rosemary, make the plant the size and shape you want, and always try to produce some replacements from cuttings in case of disaster.


Question

How do we go about transplanting a 2 feet tall rosemary bush without killing it? Also, how do I dry some of the leaves for cooking?


The Green Chronicle replies...

I would suggest not moving the plant in the heat of summer. Wait until cooler autumn weather comes along and then try to take the plant with as large a root ball as possible from its present location to where you want to
plant it. Leave top growth on the plant to protect it from the winter cold. Also you would be wise to take some soft stem cuttings and propagate replacement plants in pots, just in case the old plant doesn't survive the
move. This is easy to do, and in potting compost you should find the cuttings will root quite readily if you keep them moist and warm. When you do move the plant dig a hole large enough to comfortably take the roots you have managed to leave on; water in well and keep watering until no more air bubbles come to the surface. This indicates that you have got good soil contact around the bare roots. Don't worry too much if the plant
doesn't survive, in a good spot a new plant from a cutting will easily match the size of the old one in its second year. Rosemary likes full sun and free draining ground. Drying leaves in small amounts is very easy indeed. Harvest the pale soft stems from top growth, ideally on a hot day in full sun. Scissors are good for this job. Put the stems in a brown paper bag and put it somewhere warm and dry. The leaves will dry and crumble; use an old herb jar to keep them for the winter. In the growing season use the rosemary fresh from the plant.
Enjoy your herbs, good luck.


Question

Could you please tell me what I could use to eradicate a white fungus that has appeared on my rosemary and another herb and also on my comfrey.


The Green Chronicle replies...

Hi,
I think you have powdery mildew on your plants. This is often the result of high humidity. You might try bathing the plants in a bi-carbonate of soda solution to remove the mildew, but that will not address the cause of the outbreak. You might try increasing the free flow of air around these plants - make some space around them; also, if you water them, do so at the base, do not spray or mist the plants.

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