Rosemary, It’s Still Outdoors

This little rosemary is ‘Blue Boy’ a compact variety that grows into interesting no-work bonsai shapes in a pot. I originally purchased several of these as table decoration and parting gifts for people who attended the Grow Great Grub book launch party back in February. I even took one home myself. And then I lost it. I have absolutely no idea what happened to that plant. It just disappeared. By then I had fallen in love with this little plant, so I bought another.

The plant in this picture is ‘Blue Boy 2: The Sequel” and miracle of miracles it didn’t up and walk away. It even made it here to the new house. So far so good.

As of today it is still outside, up against the house where it gains some warmth from the brick. This is unusual for my part of the world. I always leave my rosemary plants outside until just after a hard frost, but then I bring them in for the winter. I learned this secret to their success on my first trip to Portland, Oregon. I’ve been twice, both times in the month of February when it is cold, wet and blah. Rosemary grows very, very well in Portland. It’s not unusual to see plants that have grown into massive bushes and hedges.

Since those trips I take my cue as to when to bring my rosemary indoors based on how cold and wet it was there. Rosemary does not like how dry and warm it gets inside our homes during the winter months. Keeping them happily hydrated can be a struggle. As long as they seem happy, I try to leave my plants outside until the last possible minute, because once they come indoors it’s a bit of a production to keep them going until spring.

So far fall in Toronto has been relatively mild. I went out this morning after the rain to check on my remaining potted plants that are still outdoors (and shoo away digging squirrels). It felt a lot like Portland on those February trips. Even my calendula is still going and is about to bust out another bloom!

This year I have also been gifted with an unheated sunporch that is doubling as a cold greenhouse. I could put my rosemary in there and be done with it, but I’m keeping this one outside as an experiment to see what I can get away with. Although, come to think of it, I should be experimenting with the average rosemary plant and keeping the special one in the safer, protected spot.

I think I’ll go do that right now. Things are good right now, but I don’t want to have to go back for ‘Blue Boy 3: The Reckoning’ should the weather take a turn for the worse.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “Rosemary, It’s Still Outdoors

  1. I’d love to be able to bring my rosemary into the house for the winter, but have – as yet – had no success in doing so. Mine live quite happily outside year-round (West Coast Vancouver Island – zone7/8) & I’ve had great fun in propagating them from seed (my cuttings never make it…).

    A few winters ago we did get hit with an unusually cold snap & about 85% of people in our community lost their rosemary – some of those shrubs were possibly decades old, so we all now watch the weather forecasts sharply & I have buckets on hand to throw over top for protection – just in case.

    We just got our first hit of snow pellets, which the cold rain is now washing away – looks like Coastal winter is finally here!

    (by the way – my calendula will bloom throughout the winter for me in my deck boxes along the south wall – perhaps one of my favourite plants that can be treated more like a perennial than an annual out here)

  2. Oh I also envy you Michelle! It is absolute garbage weather here – my yard has a foot of snow in Calgary and it is supposed to get to -20 tonight.

    I have tried many times to grow Rosemary in the house and it always dies within a few days (a week if I’m lucky). But I bought a small plant from the farmer’s market about a month or so ago and I can’t believe it is alive – doing well and growing! I hope it continues to live.

  3. ooo-glad I just read this … looks like I’m heading out to the garden to dig up my rosemary and bring it to the greenhouse where we’ll see how it does (members have been told to keep it cool in there) … I have some on the roof as well that has been looking good that I’ll now take to the greenhouse too. I’ve lost so many that I’ve brought indoors …

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