Upright Rosemary for the Holidays

Find a Southern California garden center for rosemary and other holiday plants.

By Richard Flowers, ACCNP-Green Thumb Nursery-Ventura

Upright Rosemary can be used anytime during the year but during the holidays it holds a unique place in peoples hearts. This versatile plant has a myriad of benefits when growing in your landscape. It is not bothered by deer or rabbits, tolerates salt spray, wind, alkaline soils, drought, and is cold hardy to 30 deg F. This shrub withstands a wide range of climates; ranging from hot inland locales to marine environments. The oil of this plant is extracted and used in many natural pest control products. Most of all it is tough, durable, and can be used as miniature Christmas tree for the holidays.

A special and unique way to use Upright Rosemary is shaping into a cone that is reminiscent of the form of a Christmas Tree which is perfect for the holidays. The fragrant foliage will infuse the environment and most of all they look adorable planted in a nice decorative pot. An Upright Rosemary cone (tree) will add a whole new dimension to your garden and become a stand out specimen any time of the year. During the holidays you could make this special Rosemary even more decorative by adding lights or decorations to it that will enhance your holiday experience. If you are looking for a tree for the holidays that will not get enormous and does well either in the ground or in a nice pot, a Rosemary shaped into a cone may be your answer.

Rosemary Christmas trees are fun and easy to make yourself, it just requires a little patience. I will explain how one could train a Rosemary creation that will eventually become a beautiful cone sculpture that can be used time and time again. Choose an upright variety of Rosemary, preferable one with a good shape that is wider at the base and narrower at the top. Plant the Rosemary like you do any other plant in the right size container. You can either stake up the plant and secure it with twist ties or tie up the branches at the top 1/3 of the plant and prune in such a manner so the Rosemary grows in a cone shape. To make it easier, you could make a temporary form out of cardboard in the shape of a tree and use that as a guide to get started. Any branches that are sticking out, trim them to shape. Keep turning the plant around and look for any other branches that need to be trimmed. The whole idea is to trim the Rosemary into a conical shape leaving the bottom shoots longer than the top ones. You want to let the bottom branches radiate outward. As the plant grows continue to trim to balance out the plant. At first you may see gaps and holes but don’t worry they will fill in. In about a month or so after you remove the ties and stake you should have a fairly loose cone shape. Keep trimming it to shape as needed. Each time you prune the Rosemary it will get thicker and more dense. It usually takes several seasons to accomplish 100% finished product. If desired, you can take it out of the pot and plant in the ground. Keep shaping as needed to maintain the cone form throughout its life. Upright  Rosemary is a robust and erect shrub that grows 4-7 feet tall and spreads out 4-5 feet without pruning. When you do prune and train it as a cone, ideally you want it to be 48” tall and 36” wide or prune to desired height you choose. This aromatic herb has a distinct flavor and is often used in a variety of foods ranging from breads to poultry and pork dishes. To harvest, pick leaves at any point in the growing season when not in flower. To dry Rosemary, use a rack or hang it upside down in bunches. Once stems are dry, strip the leaves from them.When pruning your Rosemary tree, the clippings could be used as mentioned in the above purposes. These beautiful Rosemary Christmas cones already done for you (available at the Ventura location while supplies last) are fun, festive, and will sure be a big hit for the holiday season.

Rosemary trained in a cone fashion would look delightful with other shaped shrubs adding a cheerful holiday splash to your own garden especially with a red bow or ribbon decorating the plant whether in a formal garden or a casual Mediterranean landscape with Salvias, Lions Tail, Lavender, and Thyme. Rosemary is very useful to your landscape where attracting beneficial pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies are needed. Your favorite Green Thumb Nursery usually has a healthy supply of Rosemary for your gardening needs.  By the way, holiday Rosemary cones make an excellent gift that keeps giving for years to come. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give someone special a plant you cultivated, pruned, and cared for then passing the love to someone you care about.

Your Rosemary plant is not recommended to be used as a houseplant. It must be outside, however if you choose to bring it inside, it can be used for a very limited amount of time. For it to do its best and thrive, it prefers to be in the full sun all day long. Rosemary makes an excellent potted plant, please note: When Rosemary is grown in a container, do not let it dry to the point of wilting. It may not recover, instead water consistently and evenly, do not let the soil become soggy wet and water when the soil becomes dry half way down in the container. For optimum growth and to have your Rosemary thrive, it is best to provide a well draining soil.

Keep an eye out for other living Christmas trees arriving soon that are waiting to be planted in your garden for you to enjoy for the holidays and years after.

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