To me, nothing screams the holidays like the smell of evergreen wreaths, trees, garlands, or other ‘resinous’ décor.  The ‘piney’ smell is such a delight that people can even buy pine scented candles, dish detergents, air fresheners, hand soaps and more!  So this blog post is devoted one thing piney, may that distinctive odor stink long into the New Year!

Rosemary Trees

A personal tradition in my household is to purchase a ‘rosemary tree’, a rosemary plant shaped to look like a mini evergreen tree, to use as décor around my house. Rosemary trees look great as table centerpieces, displayed in an office, or garnered with small ornaments and placed in a child’s room. They are also great in the kitchen and of course the rosemary sprigs can be used in cooking (think bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and finely chopped rosemary leaves – yum)! Rosemary also gives off a glorious piney scent when touched so consider placing these mini trees in high traffic areas where they can be rubbed and smelled often.

Just as it is tradition to purchase a rosemary tree around the holidays, it also seems to be tradition in my house to kill the rosemary tree before the New Year. One would think that I would know better since I am a horticulturalist, but, sigh, I seem to repeat the same mistake every year. Perhaps it should be my resolution to finally stop repeating this same mistake. Here is a little information on rosemary care.

  1. Rosemary plants prefer full sun so try to place trees near a sunny window and rotate the plant periodically so all sides get their turn ‘soaking up the sun’.

Rosemary Mini Tree with Decor

  1. Rosemary plants are drought tolerant and prefer well-drained soils. This is what typically kills them in containers without drain holes (too much water). When you purchase your tree, expect the soil to be damp.  Just because the soil is wet when you purchased the plant does not mean that the plant prefers damp soil all the time.  Let the soil dry out between watering events and be cautious you only add enough water to dampen the soil.  Rosemary roots will not tolerate being submerged in water – believe me!  One trick I learned in horticulture school is to place ice cubes on the soil surface and allow them to melt down into the soil.  This will help you avoid overwatering your rosemary plant.Indoor rosemary plant
  1. Rosemary plants in containers can be moved from outside to inside during the winter months. Rosemary is an evergreen and makes a particularly beautiful, and useful, houseplant.
  1. Some cultivars of rosemary can be planted in the garden and be left outside during the winter months. This technique will not work for rosemary plants planted in containers (you lose about one number of zone hardiness when plants are in containers), and only with certain cultivars of rosemary. Look for the cultivar ‘Arp’ – one that is particularly winter hardy, and plant it in an area surrounded by boulders, stone walls, or other hardscape. The concept is that these types of garden elements heat-up and radiate warmth around the root zone of the plant. Since rosemary is marginally hardy in the Salt Lake area, this little bit of warmth can make the difference between the plant surviving the winter or perishing from the cold.Outdoor rosemary in snow
  1. Do not be surprised if even the best placed rosemary plant dies back, or dies altogether, in certain winters. Sometimes protection, such as mulch around the base of the plant can help, but some springs it will be necessary to pick-up a new rosemary plant from the nursery to replace your garden casualty.

We wish you a happy holiday from the Organic Forecast – may your days be piney and bright!