Question: How To Keep My Rosemary Christmas Tree Alive
Q. Every year, I am given a small Christmas tree, made from a living rosemary plant. It dies before Christmas day even arrives. What am I doing wrong? How can I keep my rosemary tree alive to grow on my patio this summer?
A. Rosemary Christmas trees (or any other herbal topiary) has been grown in virtually perfect conditions, just waiting to be placed on retail shelves across the country. The smell alone is enough to convince any shoppers that one of these beauties needs to come home and live on the table.
The problem is, the moment thy leave the warm, perfect greenhouses that they were created in, it's all downhill from there. They can be grown at home if you have a little bit of luck, and they haven't been waiting too long to be purchased.
If your weather is unseasonably warm, or you are lucky enough to see the topiaries within the first day or so, of their arrival to the retail store, you may be lucky enough to get a healthy rosemary. No matter what the weather, but especially if it is a cold temps, have the store wrap your rosemary in a bag, so it doesn't get a shock when going from the store to your vehicle. Also, go directly home, and don't allow the rosemary to sit in fluxuating temperatures, while you shop.
Unwrap and Water
Once you get your rosemary topiary home, remove the wrapping and check out the condition of the potting soil and roots. If needed, re-pot accordingly. If nothing else, your topiary will probably be dry. Once the plants get into your care, place it on a small dish of pebbles and water lightly.
As an alternative to this, I like to place the pot into water, and allow it to absorb water for an hour or so. This will ensure that it doesn't get too much, and will keep spots from forming on the rosemary itself, from the minerals that are in the water.
Care for your rosemary like any other houseplant that needs plenty of light. I find that they do best under a grow light, or a south facing window. The perfect shape should last throughout the holiday season, but after that , you will have to trim back to your preferred shape as it starts to grow out a bit.
Q.How do you know if your rosemary is starting to suffer, and can it be saved?Some signs that your rosemary is not doing well include:
- Shriveled leaves - If you find that your rosemary is starting to look shriveled and even a bit silvery colored, it is dried out. It may be too late, but you can try to recover it by removing any foil wrapping and placing in a sink with 1 inch of tepid water. Allow the plant to soak up moisture for 30 minutes or so. It will not be dripping, and the top may even still be a bit dry feeling. Allow the pot to drip any excess water before re-wrapping in the foil, and place back into the bright sunlight. You will know if this worked within a couple of days.
- Browning leaves or leaves falling off when the plant is moved - This plant is too far gone. You may be able to save part of the plant but not the shape. If you want to try to save the rosemary plant itself, prune back to living wood (you nay not find any)and water with a light fertilizer-like worm compost or
- Bits of cotton or webbing is starting to show - Uh oh. In a word; mites. If you have what looks like tiny tufts of cotton, or spider webs on your rosemary branches, it means you have a mite infestation. These mites probably came in on the plant, and it is not worth the effort to try and remove them. I recommend throwing the plant away and starting new.