Keeping Potted Rosemary Healthy All Year

In the language of herbs, the rosemary plant is known for remembrance. And if you’ve ever smelled the fresh piney scent of rosemary, it’s not likely something you’ll forget. Most herb gardeners grow this must-have plant in their gardens during the spring, summer and early fall. But what do you do with a healthy rosemary plant over the winter if you live in the north? 

Growing rosemary in a northern garden isn’t like growing other perennial herbs, such as thyme and parsley, that can be overwintered and will come back in spring. In the United States, rosemary is grown as a perennial in warmer climes (zones 6 to 10). In fact, rosemary hedges grace the walkways of Charleston, South Carolina and many other Southern cities, year round. But in the north, the rosemary plant is either treated as an annual or moved indoors into containers before the first frost.

Rosemary is an evergreen perennial herb that’s a member of the mint family and is native to the Meditteranean. If you’re like me, you like to use rosemary all year for cooking and crafting. Plus, it makes great hostess and teacher gifts. Rosemary graces the garden centers during the holidays shaped like a Christmas tree.

Keeping Rosemary Healthy Over the Winter

I have to confess, I didn’t always love getting a holiday rosemary plant or potting up my garden plants and bringing them inside for the winter. They were always dead by February! Even the growers of holiday rosemary plants know most of them will die, so they put on their tags, “after the holidays, dry and use in potpourri.” After trial and error, and a little research, I found a few simple tricks to keep my rosemary alive all winter. Now I use it in potpourri because I want to, not because I have to.

First, herbs don’t like wet feet and rosemary is no exception. If you're dealing with a holiday plant that's still in its decorative wrapper, remove the wrapper immediately. The wrapper does nothing but trap water. You can hold onto the wrapper and use it if you're entertaining. But once your guests are gone, remove the wrapper again.

It’s usually a good idea, no matter the species, to remove decorative wrappers from your plants.

This plant is definitely root bound!

If you see roots sticking out of the hole at the bottom of an already potted rosemary, your plant is root-bound and it needs to be repotted. Whether you're repotting or potting garden-grown plants, make sure to add pebbles at the bottom of the pot and to mix the soil with sand. Good drainage is key!

All the ingredients to repot this root bound rosemary – a new bigger pot, pebbles, sand and soil.

Mix a liberal amount of sand into potting soil – good drainage is a key to success.

Pebbles in the bottom of the container provide even more drainage.

Rosemary is drought-tolerant so water sparingly, but don’t let it get too dry. Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch about an inch down. 

To be honest, the biggest key to winter rosemary keeping success is cool temperatures – not freezing, just cool. Rosemary does not like indoor heat. In winter, my plants live near a sunny window in my basement where it’s cooler. If the temperature outside is above 40/45 degrees, I faithfully put my rosemary outside; especially if it’s raining. The rain and cooler temperature mimic the rosemary's native environment. I swear by this trick! The cool, moist weather has revived my plants more than once. Just remember to bring your plant back inside at night if the temperature is going to go below freezing.

If you follow these rules, your potted rosemary should last through the winter and for years to come. Your rosemary can happily live in its pot year-round; if you put it outside starting in the spring. You can even plant it directly in the garden and then dig it up once winter comes again.

Rosemary in the Chicken Coop

Rosemary is a pest repellant and can be great to keep away coop pests like mosquitoes, flies and ants. You can plant rosemary around the coop or hang it in bundles inside the coop.  

Rosemary is good for respiratory health, not only for chickens but for humans too. I sprinkle dried rosemary in my nest boxes and offer it free choice to my chickens.

About Rosemary

Rosemary has leathery, needle-shaped leaves and blue to purplish-pink flowers. Depending on your variety, it can grow from one to six feet. Tall, long branches are often used for grilling. And the plant can be clipped to fit your needs. 

Rosemary is a kitchen staple that pairs well with poultry, pork and fish; especially in Italian and Mediterranean dishes. It can be used in herbal bread, vinegar, oil and butter as well as home crafts like potpourri. 

In the garden, rosemary plants prefer full sun in an area with good soil and good drainage. Rosemary doesn't grow well from seed, so it's better to buy it as a plant. 

Healthy rosemary plants don't get many pests or diseases, but plants that are in distress can be susceptible to scale, whiteflies, mealybugs and spider mites. Root rot is easily prevented by making sure your potted plants don't sit with a saucer full of water. 


Since rosemary is the herb of remembrance, it's said that in ancient Greece, students would wear rosemary wreaths and necklaces to help them succeed in their exams. Today rosemary is used in herbal bouquets to convey this meaning to its receiver. In my house, my kids give their teachers a rosemary plant at the end of the year with a little note conveying hope their teachers will remember the fun times they had during the school year. 

What's your favorite way to use rosemary? Do you bring it inside in the winter?

DIY Spooky Halloween Bottles

Yes, Halloween's about costumes and candy, but you've got to dress up more than yourself. Raid your recycling bin and make these adorable, spooky bottles to dress up your house. They're easy to make and they'll last forever. 

I originally got this idea when my mom gave me an article from her Woman’s Day magazine about wine bottle spirits. It was such a cute idea that I jumped at the chance to make this craft. I think these spooky Halloween bottles make unique decorations and provide the perfect excuse to enjoy an adult beverage; not a bonus you get with many crafts. You can actually make them with any bottles you've got on hand. The round pumpkin pictured in the instructions is an old pickle jar. But beware; if you want to make lots of these, you’ll probably have to ask friends and family for their extra bottles.

7 Tips for Successfully Buying Chicks From the Feed Store

Make Sure You're Prepared Before You Get to the Feed Store

For a few months each spring, when you walk into your local feed store, you're greeted to the chorus of tiny chicken chirps as the annual chick season tempts so many shoppers. If you're not sure of where to buy baby chicks, this is a great place to pick up your first flock members or add to your existing flock of backyard chickens. It's local. It's immediate. And it's fun.

Here are some tips to make the process easier on you and your new flock members.

How to Make Marbled & Tie-Dyed Easter Eggs

Why make Easter decorating hard on yourself or expensive? You can make marbled eggs and tie-dyed eggs with everyday ingredients from your pantry including food coloring. These techniques produce beautiful eggs that look like they came from a fancy egg dyeing kit. Both you and your kids are sure to love them!

If you have backyard chickens, you may have white egg laying chickens. I have a Brown Leghorn and I hoard her eggs before Easter. If you have chickens that lay brown eggs or colored eggs, this is good too. When I first started dyeing my backyard eggs, I worried the brown and colored eggs wouldn't work well. That's a myth! Those eggs produce a deeper and richer tone than white eggs. Just use some common sense, a brown egg is not going to dye well with a pink color, but it will take a stronger color like red.

Marbled Egg Ingredients

  • Food Coloring
  • Vinegar
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Water

For this, you can start out with a plain hard boiled egg or an egg already dyed in one color. To get the swirls, add food coloring, vinegar, and vegetable oil to warm water. Swirl the mixture and then quickly drop your egg into the mixture. Quickly pull the egg back out of the mixture. You'll see beautiful swirls of color.

Marbled Eggs

How To Care For A Shamrock Plant

This is the time that shamrock plants are in abundance at local grocery stores and nurseries. Should you lay down a few clams and purchase one? Yes! Shamrock plants are worth it for a holiday treat and an easy-to-care-for houseplant that will rebloom again and again. 

The first time I purchased shamrock plants, they were for my young kids. Needless to say, the plants were in their bedrooms and they didn't get much care. But never fear, these hardy plants are actually bulbs. Instead of dying, they revived and turned into lush houseplants that have bloomed ever since. The lack of water sent the bulbs into a dormant stage. And once a little TLC resumed, the plants were back in business.

Check Out my New Instagram Profile!

If you're like me, Instagram is one of your favorite social media outlets. I love to see the pictures of people's lives and flocks. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that's what I get each time I visit Instagram.

Recently, Instagram made a change where you can add your stories to your profile. You may have seen these cool circles and wondered what they do.

Each Instagram page handles these differently. On my page, I think these profile stories are a quick and fun way for you to get to know me and my flock better. Check out my new profile stories below and be sure to look for new stories as they are added in the future.

Breed Spotlight at a Glance - This quick and informative story features a favorite breed and basic facts in case this is a breed you'd like to add to your own flock. More breeds will be added, so stay tuned!

Video Fun - I love sharing the antics and daily life of my flock through videos. Be sure to check back often for new flock flicks.

On the Blog - Don't miss out on new stories and information to keep your flock happy and healthy.

On the Farm - We don't just have chickens here at Elm Ridge Farm. Share other adventures through gardening, herbs, wildlife, pets and more!

Looking for Good Egg Layers? Here's a Top Ten List to Get You Started

It's safe to say that most folks keep a flock of chickens for their eggs. They may use the eggs for their family and friends or may go into the business of selling eggs. But, whatever the motive, it's important to pick the right chicken breeds to get the maximum amount of eggs. In this regard, not all breeds are created equal. So if your motive is to get eggs, check out this top ten list of productive breeds in my article for Backyard Poultry magazine. You'll soon find these breeds will be the backbone of your backyard flock.

1. Australorp
2. Leghorn
3. Sussex
4. Rhode Island Red
5. Ameraucana
6. Easter Egger
7. Olive Egger
8. Wyandotte
9. Marans
10. Orpington

Meet Peepers, my Speckled Sussex. She's a great egg layer and has a friendly personality.

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