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Rosemary wintering – tips on plant care and protection of the semi-shrub indoors and outdoors.

In time for the beginning of autumn, some important measures to take to overwinter herb plants such as rosemary. This is a fragrant perennial evergreen herb that adds a delicious and slightly bitter flavor to many recipes. In addition, the semi-shrub is also one of the easiest herbs to grow, though proper winter plant care is critical. But how do you keep your plant healthy throughout the winter season? Below is some useful information and the steps you should follow to look forward to thriving plants in the spring.

How to overwinter rosemary after growing it in the garden or in a pot

rosemary branches covered with frosty crystals at temperatures below freezing in winter

The only downsides to growing rosemary are that it grows fairly slowly to begin with and doesn’t withstand frost as well as other herb plants. This means that you will need to take extra steps to ensure that your plants can survive outdoors or indoors during the winter. However, with proper plant care, rosemary can last for years. Plant this versatile herb and use the following tips if you want to overwinter rosemary and have it thrive.

Before you consider overwintering outdoors.

overwinter rosemary before the beginning of autumn and maintain it as a potted plant outdoors or at home

If you haven’t purchased your shrubs yet, start by choosing a hardy variety. Such varieties can withstand colder outdoor temperatures, but still require some protection. Also, choose a place to plant that will give the herb full sun. This means that it gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. In addition, growing it next to a south-facing wall would be ideal. This not only gives the plant full sun, but the wall of the house radiates heat in the winter evenings. This creates a microclimate that is a few degrees warmer than further away in the garden.

regular watering and garden care also important for hardy half-shrubs like rosemary

Also, improve the soil before planting rosemary with compost and mulch. This will create a loose, fertile soil that promotes good drainage and prevents soil compaction. In general, rosemary is hardy and tolerates most weather conditions except wet soils. Therefore, good drainage is critical for the plant to thrive.

Follow simple steps in the garden and overwinter rosemary.

timely plant care before the winter season by pruning rosemary overwintering in the garden


  1. Lightly prune the plant to give it a general shape towards the end of fall.
  2. Follow pruning with a light application of bone meal fertilizer sprinkled around the base of the plant, followed by thorough watering.
  3. Apply a thicker layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, around the plant to keep the soil at a constant temperature. This will prevent the plant from being uprooted by soil heaving. Soil heaving occurs when the garden soil goes through freezing cycles in the winter. Accordingly, a layer of mulch serves as a blanket for the soil and prevents damage.
  4. For added protection, you can wrap your rosemary in garden fleece. This is a fabric suitable for covering plants and provides additional insulation and protection from wind. Use it as another tool to give your rosemary a better chance of survival.
  5. Rosemary is an evergreen shrub, so if it’s not too cold, there may still be new growth throughout the winter. This will be minimal, but you should watch it for signs of drying out. If the new leaf growth starts to look droopy, you should water it. However, be sure to water only at ground level so that the leaves do not get wet and possibly freeze if the temperature drops below freezing shortly after watering the herb.
  6. If you have grown rosemary in a container in your garden and want to keep it outdoors during the winter, move the container to a sheltered location next to a south-facing wall before winter temperatures drop below freezing.
  7. Follow the same steps of pruning, watering and fertilizing, just as you would for a plant growing in the ground, before moving the planter. If the temperature is 0 degrees and the sun is shining, you can place the potted plant in full sun for a few hours. This will contribute to its health. However, do not forget to return the shrub to the protected place before nightfall, so that frost does not fall on it. Usually rosemary can survive some frost on the leaves, but frozen roots can kill the whole plant.

How to overwinter rosemary indoors.

overwinter rosemary grown in pots and enjoy fresh and thriving herbs again in spring

For gardeners who grow their plants in colder climates, it is better to bring the plants indoors. Fortunately, a container of rosemary is very easy to overwinter indoors. Simply place the plant in a room that is not too cold and has a south-facing window. If you don’t have a suitable location with southern sunlight, you can also use a grow light. Like other Mediterranean herbs, rosemary loves full sun.

find suitable location with plenty of sunlight and winterize rosemary by fertilizing and watering the soil


However, it can survive even with a fluorescent grow lamp or a cheaper LED plant lamp. Prune, feed and water the plant lightly before moving it. This is especially true if you are transplanting rosemary from the ground into a pot before bringing it into your home. A teaspoon of bone meal and a cup of compost that you can sprinkle on top of the soil will double as winter feed and mulch. You can also give a light application of liquid fertilizer once or twice during the winter.

Instructions for wintering rosemary indoors.

fresh rosemary shrub in a large pot during the winter season can bloom and thrive indoors

  1. If you want to overwinter rosemary in your living quarters, you should use less water and much less fertilizer. You will still need to water the plant if the top few inches of soil feel dry. Rosemary tolerates dry conditions, but don’t let the soil dry out completely.
  2. Just as with rosemary that overwinters outdoors, you can expect new growth, especially with adequate light. In addition, you can pick and harvest a few sprigs of rosemary throughout the winter, just as you would in the summer.
  3. When spring arrives, you can move the plant to a warmer spot indoors or outdoors for a few hours during the day. Gradual exposure to sunlight over the course of a few days to a few weeks will reduce the likelihood that your rosemary leaves will bleach in the sun.
  4. Proper plant care may even reward you with some small purple flowers.
  5. Expect new growth spurts once your rosemary is re-established outside.
  6. Fertilizers with higher nitrogen content will encourage more leaf and twig growth in the spring.

More tips for using and storing rosemary

flowering rosemary branch has a pleasant scent and can add a decorative touch to any home

If you pruned your rosemary before wintering, don’t throw away the extra rosemary sprigs. Dry them by hanging them in a dry place. Avoid an automatic dehydrator unless you have a very low temperature setting. The heat will cause the rosemary to lose flavor and aroma. After drying, store the leaves in an airtight container or crush them to make your own herb blend.

grow fresh cuttings of rosemary in water and let them take root

You can also freeze the herb . If you love fresh rosemary, you can store rosemary sprigs in a resealable bag or airtight container in the freezer and use as you would fresh rosemary with minimal loss of flavor. Remove the lower leaves and root your rosemary sprigs in water or soil to propagate the plants.

overwinter rosemary when outdoor temperatures drop and let it survive with proper plant protection

Rosemary is a bit finicky about rooting, but after 4 to 6 weeks you will know if the cuttings have rooted. When doing this, make sure your cuttings do not dry out and that only the bottom inches of the cuttings are submerged in water. Change the water every few days to reduce the risk of rot.