Help me save my rosemary bush!
March 29, 2009 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Help me save my rosemary bush! This bush is in my back yard. I live in Phoenix, AZ. The bush has been there for 13 years, but in the past 6 months 90% of it died. I suspect it was either due to a freeze or some windborne weed killer. Up to now I have not maintained it at all (in terms of active watering, etc.) other than trimming it back occasionally. How can I save it?
posted by mattholomew to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can propagate it by cutting off shoots, dipping them in root solution and sticking them in a deep container where they will take root. I've done it with good results. Here's a site with info on how you can do it.
posted by watercarrier at 7:49 AM on March 29, 2009

Cut it back drastically - there should be a ton of woody stuff underneath all the dead plant. Cut all that away, right back to where the living plant starts. You'll then be able to see if the part that's living is viable. Cold is the biggest threat to rosemary, so if it's been frozen, it might have been too much of a shock for the plant. With a plant that big, particularly one like rosemary that has quite woody stems, it can look ugly as hell if it's too leggy, so you might find that when you've cut away all the dead stuff, what's left isn't worth saving.

But rosemary is an easy plant to propagate, so if, after you've cut the plant back, it looks beyond saving, take some cuttings.
posted by essexjan at 7:56 AM on March 29, 2009

What USDA zone are you in? My rosemary plants here in zone 7 usually survive 5 years before a cold snap kills them. Then I replant. If you are in zone 7.5 or 8, the top of the plant may have died, but the roots are still alive, and the plant will recover. There's nothing you can do except to remove the dead branches to make room for regrowth. If the plant got hit by a herbicide (in the winter?), there's nothing to do but wait and see.
posted by acrasis at 8:57 AM on March 29, 2009

acrasis, I'm in Arizona. We're in the Sonoran desert, so 'winter' here is basically spring everywhere else.
posted by mattholomew at 9:45 AM on March 29, 2009

It's a unfortunate occurrence, but sometimes plants just have a life-cycle. My family of green-thumbs have raised several large, healthy rosemary bushes over the years, and several of them have suddenly, for no apparent reason, suddenly ceased to flourish. I agree that aside from drastically cutting back and waiting, you might have a dead bush.
posted by Subspace at 10:41 AM on March 29, 2009

I'd definitely try cutting it back. You may see some very faint buds lurking underneath some of the woody dead part; leave those there, and get rid of the dead bits. This would give the faint buds a chance to shoot out and fill things up.

I can't help you with the cold, unfortunately, as my own rosemary plant is in a pot on my windowsill. But I can tell you that cutting it back drastically once did perk it up and let new growth come in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 AM on March 29, 2009

Agreeing with the chorus of "cut it way the hell back". That'll help you see if/when it continues to die, and if there is any new growth under all that dead, it's going to need some light. We lost our rosemary two years ago (zone 7) and it sucked.
posted by ersatzkat at 3:03 PM on March 29, 2009

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