Growing rosemary indoors can be a tricky thing even for experienced gardeners. It’s very easy to end up with a dry and dead rosemary plant if you don’t pay attention to all the details. In this article, we are going to see how to care for rosemary indoors and make sure it thrives.
How to Care for Rosemary Indoors
1. Choose a Good Location
The location is a very important component if you want your rosemary plant to thrive. Ideally, you should set the plant on a windowsill with plenty of light. Try choosing a window that faces either south or west. This plant needs at least 6 hours of direct sun each day, so don’t compromise on this if you want to offer it the best conditions.
2. Use Some Fluorescent Lighting
In case you can’t ensure the conditions we mentioned above, it would be a good idea to use fluorescent grow lights. These should be placed 6 inches above the plant. Make sure you leave them on for around 14 hours a day. It may seem a lot, but remember that this type of light is completely different than the natural one, and that’s why it’s important for you to know how to care for rosemary indoors.
3. Allow the Soil to Dry before Watering
Rosemary will always thrive in a little dryness, but not too much. Don’t let the soil dry out completely before you water again. However, it’s not recommended you make it soggy either. Remember to water the plant thoroughly.
4. Ensure a Good Drainage
Watering practices represent one of the main reasons rosemary doesn’t survive inside. A good drainage is essential for offering the best water quantity for your rosemary.
5. Adjust the Watering Schedule
Another thing to remember is the fact that in winter, plants grow at a slower pace. This means that they need less water than in summer. If you water them too often, you might trigger root rot. At the same time, if you let the soil around the rosemary plant to dry out completely, the roots die back. As such, the plant will not be able to support itself.
6. Take Care of Humidity
Humidity is yet another essential factor when learning how to care for rosemary indoors correctly. In spring, summer, and autumn, the humidity that appears naturally in your room should be enough. However, you should pay attention to this aspect if you know you have a level of humidity in your home that is too high or too low.
If you live in an area with dry winters, you should offer extra humidity to your rosemary when you start heating the house. You can achieve this by placing the pot on a special humidity tray. Another option would be to run a humidifier in the room for a couple of hours every day. Furthermore, you should use a spray bottle filled with water. Mist the foliage 1 – 2 times a week since rosemary loves to absorb moisture from the air.
7. Use Fertilizer
Once or twice a month, feed the rosemary plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Before applying it to the plant, dilute it with water in equal parts.
8. Use an Electric Fan
If you allow the air around the rosemary to become stagnant and stale, the plant can suffer from powdery mildew. The solution for this is to use a fan and let it blow a couple of hours each day. This will have a positive impact on the air circulation around the plant, helping decrease this risk.
9. Use Fungicide
An important part of knowing how to care for rosemary indoors is to know what to do in case mildew or another fungus appears. If this happens, you should treat the rosemary with a fungicide. There is also the possibility of treating the rosemary before it gets the disease. However, most gardeners would rather use as few chemicals as they can. As such, it’s better to make use of a post-disease treatment, instead of a preventative one.
10. Use Neem Oil
Luckily, when deciding on how to care for rosemary indoors, you should know it doesn’t get infected as often as it gets outdoors. However, this still represents a possibility. In this case, neem oil is a good idea. It is harmless to humans and many pets. This means that you can safely use it on the plants that are intended for consumption. It will help heal your rosemary in case it gets any disease.
11. Harvest Rosemary Correctly
Knowing how to harvest rosemary correctly is just as important as knowing how to care for rosemary indoors. It’s important to snip it just above a stem joint. In this way, you will allow new growth to form on that stem. Moreover, it’s important not to remove more than a third of the plant at once.
12. Choose the Right Pot
Rosemary will extend as much as the pot in which it sits allows it. If you notice that the plant above the ground has the same height as the pot, it’s time to move the plant to a bigger one. Another option would be to prune the roots and make sure they aren’t too crowded. If you let the roots grow, they will “conquer” the entire pot. This means that the rosemary will not get enough water and nutrients. In time, you will notice the foliage becoming more lackluster, and, eventually, it will die.
13. Prune the Roots
Now that you know why it is important to prune the roots, you should also know how to do it. Take a pair of sharp garden scissors and cut around 2 inches of root matter. Take it from the bottom and the sides, and then repot it with new soil. Make sure you keep the rosemary in the shade for 2 – 3 days until it gets used to the changes.
14. Change the Soil
Growing herbs in pots is no easy thing, and rosemary is no exception to that. Yet another thing you need to pay attention to is changing the soil. After each season, the rosemary will have already taken all the nutrients in the potting soil you used. For this reason, in the spring it’s a good idea to check the roots and prune them if the situation requires it.
15. Ensure an Adequate Temperature
In general, rosemary needs an average temperature. It’s a hardy plant, so it can thrive down to 50 °F. Moreover, it can survive even in 80 °F or more. If you live in a hotter location, it’s important to ensure a good air circulation.
16. Propagate It Correctly
In general, rosemary is a slow grower, so it’s easy to buy plants grown in the nursery instead of starting your own from scratch. However, if you’re a patient gardener, you can wait for the plant to develop. The best solution, if you already have an outdoor plant, is to take leaf-tip cuttings and start a new one indoors. Start the new cutting in a container in the summer. When the weather starts to get cold, bring it inside. In this way, you can make sure the plant will resist.
17. Choose the Right Variety
The most common rosemary variety you can find is called Rosmarinus officinalis. It is, in fact, an evergreen shrub that grows natively in the Mediterranean. Besides this one, there are plenty of cultivars adapted to various weather conditions. Regarding the taste, there isn’t much of a difference between the varieties. However, there is the risk of your herb catching mildew or other pests. In this case, you should inquire with your local garden center if they have any locally appropriate varieties. If you can’t find anything there, it would be a good idea to order your favorite variety online.
18. Make It Release Its Fragrance
Though it’s not an essential part of its growth process, but it’s useful for you. If you stroke the plant when you walk by it, it will release a pleasant fragrance into the air. Studies have shown that smelling rosemary boosts your cognitive function, it reduces stress and anxiety, plus it works as a great bug repellant.
19. Combine It with the Right Plants
Most likely, when learning how to care for rosemary indoors, you won’t stick just to planting one type of herb. It’s important to know how to combine it with the right plants. Here you have a brief list of the plants that make good companions for this herb:
- Society garlic;
- Red Rubin basil;
- Curly parsley;
- Garden sage, etc.
Of course, the list can go on, but these are some of the most popular choices.
Here you can see a clip that illustrates the process of taking care of rosemary indoors:
It’s not difficult to learn how to care for rosemary indoors. The process isn’t that much different than the one required when growing it outdoors. However, you need to pay attention to the plant’s basic needs: light, temperature, soil, etc. Make sure you prune it whenever necessary, and choose good companions for this delicious herb.
Image source: depositphotos.com