How to Keep a Rosemary Christmas Tree Alive

rosemary Christmas tree

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Rosemary Christmas trees (or any other herbal topiary) have been grown in virtually perfect conditions, just waiting to be placed on retail shelves across the country. The smell alone is enough to convince any shoppers that one of these beauties needs to come home and live on the table. However, the moment they leave the warm, perfect greenhouses that they were grown in, problems can occur. With proper care, though, your rosemary Christmas tree can last through the holiday season.

Buy Your Rosemary Tree Early

If your weather is unseasonably warm or you're lucky enough to see the topiaries within the first day or so of their arrival to the retail store, you may be lucky enough to get healthy rosemary. Ask the store wrap your rosemary in a bag, especially if it's chilly outside, so it doesn't get a shock when going from the store to your vehicle. Go directly home, and don't allow the rosemary to sit in fluctuating temperatures while you shop.

Unwrap and Water

Once you get your rosemary topiary home, remove the wrapping and check out the condition of the potting soil and roots. If needed, re-pot accordingly. If nothing else, your topiary will probably be dry. Once the plants get into your care, place it on a small dish of pebbles and water lightly. Alternatively, place the pot in water and allow it to absorb water for an hour or so. This ensures that the plant doesn't get too much water and keeps spots from forming on the rosemary itself from the minerals that are in the water.

watering your rosemary tree

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Watering and Pruning

Care for your rosemary like any other houseplant that needs plenty of light. They do best under a grow light or in a south-facing window. The tree's perfect shape should last throughout the holiday season, but after that, you will have to trim back to your preferred shape as it starts to grow out a bit.

Warning Signs

How do you know if your rosemary is starting to suffer, and can it be saved? Some signs that your rosemary is not doing well include:

  • Shriveled leaves: If you find that the rosemary is starting to look shriveled and even a bit silvery colored, it is dried out. It may be too late, but try to recover it by removing any foil wrapping and placing it in a sink with 1 inch of tepid water. Allow the plant to soak up moisture for 30 minutes or so. It will not be dripping, and the top may even still be a bit dry feeling. Allow the pot to drip any excess water before re-wrapping in the foil, and place back into the bright sunlight. You will know if this worked within a couple of days.
  • Browning leaves or leaves falling off when the plant is moved: Unfortunately, this is a sign that the plant is too far gone. However, you may be able to save part of the plant but not the shape. Prune back to living wood (you may not find any), and water with a light fertilizer-like worm compost.
  • Bits of cotton or webbing are starting to show: This means you have a mite infestation. These mites probably came in on the plant, and it is not worth the effort to try and remove them. Throw the plant away and start new.