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Rosemary may suffer indoors

QUESTION: We received a potted rosemary plant as a Christmas gift. According to the plant marker, it is a variety called ‘Arp.’ It was fresh and green when we got it, but now the leaves are beginning to turn brown. What is the best way to take care of it?

RosemaryThose rosemary topiaries and the miniature rosemary Christmas trees are popular gifts for cooks and gardeners during the holidays. Unfortunately, they don’t always live as long as you might expect.

Some sources with information on houseplants say that rosemary is one of the culinary herbs that can be grown outdoors in summer and brought in during winter. But rosemary has specific needs that are not easily met in some indoor environments.

To grow well indoors, a rosemary plant, which is really a tender perennial shrub, requires bright light — four or more hours a day of direct sun, or about 14 hours of supplemental fluorescent light. In addition, it likes warm temperatures in spring and summer, and cooler (45 – 70 degrees) in fall and winter. It also likes fairly humid conditions, and the air in an average home may be too dry for the plant to thrive.

While you have it indoors, give the rosemary as much light and humidity as possibly (a daily misting may help). Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, but don’t let it dry completely.

‘Arp’ is one of the hardiest rosemary varieties. Plant it outdoors in early spring (full sun, but it also does fine with a little bit of shade), in soil that drains well. If you plant it in a sheltered location, there’s a good chance that it will last in the garden for many years here in Zone 7a.

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