Rosemary, a truly ancient plant valued for its robustness, flowers, flavour and medicinal properties, is frost sensitive and will die in my Canadian location if left out in the cold. So I just bring it inside for the winter. And it turns out that rosemary is quite happy with that order of events. Here's how it goes.
One fine summer day, say in July, you find someone who has a rosemary plant and ask for about five cuttings. You make the pieces (from tip shoots) about three inches long, strip the leaves from the bottom half of each cutting, take a four inch pot and fill it with ordinary garden soil; if you have clay soil add sand for drainage. Insert the cuttings, evenly spaced, to half their length around the edge of the pot, water to allow the soil to settle closely around the cuttings and leave in a warm semi-shaded place, keeping the pot moist but not wet.
Within a few weeks the cuttings will have initiated roots. At first nothing seems to happen, then suddenly, almost overnight, they have roots. Take five four inch pots, fill with ordinary garden soil and transplant the five rooted cuttings into the pots. Water well. You will now be going into the fall with 5 healthy but small rosemary plants. Bring them inside when the cold comes, and keep them moist but not wet. The first winter there will be no flowers, the plants are too young. Unless you are lucky or skilled.
In spring, when the weather warms, take 5 six inch pots and transplant your five plants into them. Again, use ordinary garden soil. The plants will grow and expand into fine rosemary specimens. Cut lightly from the tips for seasoning all summer, and in the full summer months take another five cuttings and root them as you did the previous year, keeping the cycle going.
When the cold weather comes, bring both the six and four inch pots inside. The six inch pots will start flowering in November and continue to about March. Keep moist but not wet and in a sunny location. Clip lightly for seasoning.
The following summer, move the six inch plants into larger pots, the fours up to sixes. You no doubt see the idea. Each summer, take new cuttings for new plants as required for replacements, and when the plants in the really big pots look tired strip the foliage for seasonings, break up the root ball and feed to the compost. This frees the big pots for smaller specimens to move up.
In the winter time, watch the watering carefully. If the plants dry right out then they die, if overwatered then they produce lots of weak shoots. Clip them for seasonings.
In all the years we never add fertilizer, just water. The nutrients come in the new soil from the garden added each year when potting up.
Of course, take more cuttings to have some plants to give away. If you feel really clever, train a standard rosemary tree, which has a single strong stem and flourishes branchily at the top.Copyright © 2016