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Rosemary and Water

Hello all,

I've been growing rosemary in pots for a few years now and I have several, some of which are cuttings or layers that I made myself from my original stock.  I've always found rosemary to be fairly temperamental. My lavenders for example tend to grow without any problems under a similar regime. I've always thought that rosemary was supposed to be kept on the dry side, but I think that this has sometimes led me to underwater. They never die on me, but I don't feel that they're really at their best either.

So to my specific question. Some of the older leaves on some of my rosemaries are turning yellow particularly at the tips in a way that doesn't look particularly healthy, something which has happened before. Meanwhile some of the newer leaves on another plant have developed black tips. I'm guessing that the yellow may mean underwatering and the black may mean overwatering, but wondered if anyone else had a view on this.

Otherwise everything looks reasonable healthy with some new growth this year on every plant. The plant with the black tips is a young plant that I'm trying to train into a standard while the rest are more established plants of various ages. I feed them once or twice a year and they're in a fairly poor soil with added sand, grit and perlite for drainage. They were fleeced in the winter, and had their pots bubble-wrapped, and there was no obvious winter damage when I opened them up.

Any ideas or comments would be very gratefully received.




  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    might possibly need feeding?, how long has it been in the pot?

    in general when I water I only do it if there's been a week without rain, then I give mine a good soaking (their in pots too) and leave for another week, they're Mediterranean plants so can cope with dry OK.

    alternatively the black tips might be frost damage? the young shoots of totally hardy plants can get nipped by a late frost.

  • ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

    Thanks tree hugger. Good point about feeding. I did give the more established ones a feed last week, so let's see if that helps. They don't really get any rain where they are, so I water about twice a week in summer or once a fortnight in winter. 

    Pretty sure it wasn't frost damage though with the black tips. We've not had a frost for weeks and they only started looking black a couple of days ago.

  • ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

    Uh oh..... the black is spreading on my tiny standard rosemary. Can anyone thing of anything I can do to save it?


  • Tropical SamTropical Sam Posts: 1,488

    My Rosemary is on a south facing terrace that has quite heavy soil, so can be quite wet at times. I find Rosemary prefers to be well watered rather than dry, esp in pots. If you think of where is naturally grows the soil is well draining but constantly getting humidity from the sea and fog and rain.

  • ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

    Thanks Blairs, I'm gradually coming round to the same view point. It's easy to underwater it.

    Not sure that that explains the blackness on the leaves though. I actually have two tiny rosemary plants sharing a fairly big pot, and the other plant is very happy.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 67,920

    I don't water any Mediterranean-type plants like rosemary and thymes during the winter - they can usually cope with dry cold, but they hate wet cold.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

    Thanks Dove.

    But I tried that one year, and everything died. I lost my rosemary, my thyme and my lavender. So now I water about once a fortnight in winter and everything comes through pretty well. Even though we have pretty cold winters here.

    But this blackening of the leaf tips has only started since the weather picked up. It's been mid-twenties for the last week or so, and not below ten or so at night. Couldit be a fungal thing?

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Rosemary doesn't need feeding of any sort, they prefer beneficial neglect, full sun and very well drained soil in summer, almost sand. They also enjoy a good haircut in spring which encourages new growth and a bushier plant. Most of the rosemary bought in are in poor mpc and usually over watered to provide a lush plant for sale and many die as a result. Good air circulation is vital and an exposed spot is often a good place for them. Keeping them in pots needs a slightly different approach as repotting them each year is always advisable and when doing so you prune the roots and only a slight trim of the top growth.

    Powdery mildew is the main enemy along with spider mites and aphids a mils soap solution cures the latter two.

    Cut out any blackened stems carefully, water and leave it till the potting medium is dry.

    The main enemy of rosemary is us with too much care. 

  • Fishy65Fishy65 Posts: 2,253
    I'd have to agree there Dave.I have two largish Rosemary bushes in my garden that are thriving,very healthy and yet I give them barely any attention at all.I've pruned one of them back hard and am waiting for the other to finish blooming (the bees like them) before doing the same.I have a loamy soil but fairly well draining.I wonder if that makes a difference but they very much look after themselves.

    ommthree,maybe try planting a few in the ground and see how they go?
  • ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

    Thanks everyone. Unfortunately putting them in the ground is not an option for me, or I would certainly do so.

    Dave, for potted rosemary, how much do you cut back and when?

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