Q.I have had a large rosemary plant in the garden for about 3 years. At the moment (February) there are no little spiky leaves i.e.rosemary, the plant looks dead.
Will the rosemary leaves appear in the spring?
(C.G, 10 March 2009)
A.As an evergreen plant, rosemary shouldn’t lose all its leaves under normal conditions so you are right to be concerned about it. It’s difficult to give an accurate diagnosis without seeing the plant but we’ll try to help you assess the situation, and suggest how to avoid a similar problem happening in the future.
Whereabouts in your garden is your rosemary plant situated? Is it growing in an exposed area? If in a sheltered spot, rosemary usually withstands frost well, but if exposed to wind and water-logged ground as well as low temperatures, it can suffer. This February (2009) we have had some very low temperatures and fierce weather.
However, rosemary is a hardy plant and may well revive as the weather improves. We wouldn’t give up hope for it yet! Keep an eye on it and look out for tiny signs of life. Remove obviously dead stems.
Its Place in the Garden
If you find that do need to replace your rosemary plant, consider its positioning in the garden. The principles of crop rotation can apply equally well in gardens: different plants have varying needs and will take different materials from the soil. So use this as an opportunity for a rethink about where else it could go. The fact that the rosemary plant didn’t survive or had to struggle suggests that it may not have been in the best position. Mediterranean in origin it prefers a sunny, sheltered position.
The Best Soil
It will cope with relatively poor soils, preferring a light sandy soil, but it won’t flourish in a heavy wet soil. If you’re growing it to use in the kitchen, then a limey soil will be beneficial. This will give you smaller plants with much more fragrance.
Looking After your Rosemary
Rosemary is a plant of few needs. Given the right conditions, it is hardy and will survive without much attention or care through the year. A little watering if the soil is very dry and monthly feeding from about April until October is all that’s needed. If it’s getting too big, you can prune your rosemary plant to the size you want it. Pruning is best done just after flowering.
We hope this information has been helpful