Rosemary Repot and Pruning

dan4279November 13, 2011

I spend a lot of time reading these forums and have learned a great deal from all of you. I have a question about how I should go about repotting and pruning my 4 year old rosemary "bonsai". Actually I don't know anything about bonsai, but I've grown this into what looks like a small tree and I'd like to continue that. I overwinter this plant in an unheated attached garage. It goes dormant in the winter, but starts growing again when spring comes. At some point by next summer I would like to repot it and cut it back. I'm trying to figure out what the best timing for these procedures would be. Should I wait until it resumes active growth next summer, or should I repot while it's dormant (very early spring) like deciduous trees that go dormant in the winter? Should I cut it back at the same time that I repot?

I'd really appreciate any advice on how to go about this. Thanks in advance.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Repot in spring immediately after any danger of hard frosts. I think you're taking a chance over-wintering in an unheated garage, unless you're very diligent about remembering to close the door overnight & during any periods of extreme cold. One night of killing low temps could easily take the plant in zone 5.

For safety's sake, you might consider placing the plant on the floor & covering with an overturned cardboard box. I have several coming along as future bonsai, but always over-wintered them indoors under lights.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 4:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Al.

I've been through 3 winters of overwintering my rosemary in my garage, and so far they all have made it. I have 2 other fairly large rosemary that spend the winter with this one. They have an east facing window and there are interior house walls on 2 of the 4 sides. I keep an eye on the temperature in there and it has never dropped below 30 that I've noticed. I was under the impression that rosemary benifitted from a cold dormant period, but that could be totally wrong.

This is off-topic from my original question , but I also have a manzanillo olive tree and a bay laurel that I'm considering leaving in the garage in front of the window...too risky? I have lights set up in my basement, but space is running out down there.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 5:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bay Laurel is rated for zones 8 and 9. It will definitely not tolerate cold temperatures. Your Manzanillo Olive is rated for zones 8-11, and Rosmarinus officinalis, or Rosemary, is rated for zones 7-11.

All the plant types you mention do best in a mild, dry, Mediterranean climate, such as Greece or the south of Spain, if I'm not mistaken. You're actually very lucky that your Rosemary has thus far survived its garage winters.

If it were me, I'd winter them over indoors, locating a cool, but not cold, area where they can rest.

Rosemary is especially susceptible to spider mite infestations, so some kind of precautionary systemic might be a good idea.

When choosing placement for winter, it's always wise to research what gardening zones your plant is rated for, and what extremes it can withstand.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 8:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you, Jodik.

I did know the gardening zones that they were rated for, and given that they were only rated 1 zone warmer than my rosemary which has seemed to do fine I was considering giving it a shot. I think my garage is somewhat warmer than most. When it's in the 20s outside it will be in the low 50s in there. When it gets down close to or below zero in January, inside will be in the low 30s.

I don't really have another sunny cool spot. Maybe I'll leave them out there until the really cold nights start coming and then move them in. I'll have to invest in more lights for my basement.

I appreciate your help.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 9:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Zone rating is only one of many variables... some plants are genetically strong enough to withstand extremes that might kill a different plant of the same variety. Or, a winter in a given area can be much more damaging than normal in a given year. So, in essence, there are many factors involved... and nothing is really set in stone.

Each gardening zone is comprised of many different micro climates, so different growers within the same zone can report very different results. Weather patterns can change, and there are really many factors to take into account.

I just wanted to make sure you were aware of the ratings for your plants... I would hate for you to lose them because you weren't. It's sometimes difficult to gauge a person's level of gardening expertise on the forum, but I'm glad to hear that you know. :-)

Al's idea of covering them with a cardboard box for extra protection against any frigid drafts might help... although, it might be to the plants' benefit to simply invest in another light setup. And since your particular garage is a bit warmer than most, it's possible that you could winter such plants over successfully. The option is entirely yours.

I winter over a lot of plants in a large unheated garage, but it gets closed when the plants go in, and doesn't get opened until early spring. I also use plastic baby pools to group the plants and keep them off the concrete floor. I'm talking about plants rated for my zone, though, which is 5b... a few are rated for zone 6, but not many. They spend their dormant period enclosed in the building, no frigid drafts or sudden changes in temperature.

Anyway... it's a fine looking Rosemary! I've never had much success growing that particular plant. I always seem to get heavy infestations of spider mites before I notice, and the air in my home is so dry that they drop most of the needles.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
redshirtcat(6a MO StL)

I have a large bay laurel tree that I've overwintered in less than ideal conditions before (low light, chilly temperatures). Mine seems pretty hardy and will tolerate a light frost without any visible damage - but I've never left it outside in those conditions for more than a day.

Scale and accompanying sooty mold have been issues in the past on this tree while overwintering.

In 6a I wouldn't risk leaving it in the garage. My attached garage will get well below freezing and can stay there for weeks at a time... Z5 should be worse...

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 8:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you both for the advice. I'm certainly rethinking my plan to keep my bay and olive in the garage all winter, but I think I'm going to stick with the rosemary out there. It's worked well for the past 3 winters. I've tried rosemary indoors before and I had problems with pests. Plus, the plants would put out weak and leggy growth. I've never had those problems keeping them cold and dormant.

If anyone else out there has any experience and/or advice on how best to treat any of these plants during the winter in zone 5, I'd be very interested.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 5:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No problem... always happy to share information with fellow growers! :-)

For tender plants that spend spring, summer, and most of fall outside, I try to locate a cool spot in the basement for their winter resting period. I cut back on moisture and feed to a certain extent, and I simply hope they'll limp through winter and survive until the danger of frost is past so I can get them back outside into the type of light they need to thrive.

I've got a light setup in the basement, but it's not the best. Most of my plants that winter over in the basement require some trimming before going back outside in spring. The lights are simply not good enough to provide what they need, and any growth through winter is usually a bit leggy or thin. The coolness of the basement does help slow growth to some extent.

It really depends on the plant type... tender bulbs, like my pot of Society Garlic, are allowed to go dormant in pots in the basement, or dug and stored, kept almost completely dry, and not encouraged to grow leaves. Other plant types are kept cool to slow growth... but everything is kept well above freezing.

The only plants I winter out in the garage are plants that can tolerate zone 5 winters, but because they're in pots, they're placed where they can get the protection they need, which would be inside the unheated garage. If we get a lot of snow, I may pitch a shovelful of clean snow over the pots at some point during winter, just so they can have some moisture, emulating nature. I don't want them to dry out too much and die.

I have a thing for tender bulbs... and I have a few Plumeria.. all of which go to the basement for winter. My Japanese Maples and all my potted roses and perennial stock take the garage.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 8:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So...I am a zone you think I might be able to winter a rosemary in my enclosed gazebo with success?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 9:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Is it heated? Enclosed but unheated would work better.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 12:23AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Wicking more water retentive soils
I was wondering what the disadvantages are when using...
Jacques (MP, South Africa) S
What to plant in 4 1/4 Gallon Food Grade Buckets?
I was recently given about 20 4 1/4 gallon food grade...
CRF burn if 5-1-1 sits a while?
I have some 5-1-1 that was fully made, including CRF...
Al's Gritty Mix -- A Learning Experinece
I came to this forum a few weeks ago in an attempt...
Can a peat based mix be used for 2 seasons?
Hello - Considering compaction, etc can a peat based...
Sponsored Products
Dominican Rectangular: 5 Ft. x 8 Ft. Rug
$383.40 | Bellacor
Plum Rosemary Floral Throw Pillow - Set of Two
$29.99 | zulily
Brilliance Silvered Gray and Maroon Rectangular: 5 Ft. x 8 Ft. Rug
$931.20 | Bellacor
Rizzy Home Rosemarie Comforter Bed Set - BT1227KKING
$198.00 | Hayneedle
"Citrus Basil" Filled Candle
$75.00 | Horchow
Portedale Rosemary Gold - 44 diam. in. - DM1937
$458.00 | Hayneedle
3-in-1 Oven Rack
$11.99 | zulily
39-feet Rosemary Indoor/Outdoor Spiral Tree
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™