Potted rosemary needs sunlight and moisture

Garden Q&A

February 09, 1997

I received a potted rosemary plant for Christmas. It is dropping the inside leaves and the tips of the leaves are turning brown. What am I doing wrong?

Many herbs, including rosemary, basil, mint, parsley, thyme, chives and bay laurel, can be grown as houseplants if they are given enough light and humidity. The problems you are noticing are most likely the result of your plant trying to adjust itself to the less than optimum levels of light and humidity in your home.

To ensure that your plant gets enough light, place it on a windowsill that receives at least four hours of sunlight daily. Your plant will also get some of the humidity it needs on the windowsill -- the air is cooler and moister there. Another way to raise the humidity level around your plant is to fill a tray with stones or aquarium gravel. Add water to the tray, just below the surface of the stones. Place the plant on top of the stones. The water will evaporate and put moisture in the air around the plants. (The stones will keep the plant's roots from growing down into the water.)

Some bottled herbicide and insecticide have frozen in my shed. Will these products be effective in the spring?

Many pesticides lose their effectiveness during extremes in temperature. To be on the safe side, call the manufacturers listed on the product labels. They can advise you best.

I saw something called "boot spike aerators" in a gardening catalog. You strap them on your feet and walk around your lawn, aerating the soil as you go. They look as though they'd be fun to wear. But will they help my lawn?

They might help your traction if you're mowing hills, but they won't do much for your lawn. A lawn in need of aeration is one in which the soil is too compacted. If you find it difficult to push a trowel or shovel more than 4 to 6 inches into the soil, you need to aerate -- that is, to increase the circulation of air in the soil.

Rather than spend your money on those boots, wait until fall and rent a core aerator. These machines will remove many small cores, or plugs, of soil. This will help improve root growth and allow fertilizer, lime and water to move more easily into the soil.

Checklist

Avoid excessive walking on frozen lawns. The crunching and breaking of frozen grass blades can mean lawn damage in the spring.

If you have any bulbs that you didn't plant in October and November, plant them now. It's better to plant them in cold soil than to leave them inside the house until spring.

Pull or snip bagworm bags from evergreen trees and shrubs. Discard them.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line, (800) 342-2507.

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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