Overwintering Rosemary in the Comox Valley

Overwintering Rosemary in the Comox Valley

Wandering out into the garden to pick a sprig of rosemary in the dead of winter could be one of the greatest joys a gardener can experience when living in the Comox Valley, where we enjoy Plant Hardiness Zones of 7 or 8 (8 being the warmer areas).

Most rosemary varietals are Zone 8 or even 9 herbs (some are Zone 7’s) and will usually require some kind of protection over the winter—especially with the Arctic outbreaks that we have received over the past couple of years.

Starting off correctly by planting it in a sheltered south or west facing spot will do wonders towards keeping your rosemary alive for many years—make sure you mulch freely with leaves in the fall and keep a cover handy for those Artic outbreaks.  Another tip is to plant a few bushes in various locations to ‘hedge’ your bets.  Or grow it in a container that can be moved into a greenhouse during the winter—many of our CVHS members have reported they do this and their rosemary survives the winter regularly.

Note that moving rosemary into the house over winter just doesn’t seem to work—it can’t get enough sun and its just too dry.  If you bring rosemary inside for a few days during a particularly cold spell, that is fine, but after about a month, rosemary plants just seem to shrivel and die.

If you do happen to lose a plant over the winter, while that is sad, rosemary is a fast grower in conditions it is happy with (hot with lots of sun and no soggy feet) and plants are usually plentiful and inexpensive at the garden stores.  Not only is it one of the great culinary herbs, it also smells fabulous, has beautiful blue flowers, and has many proven health benefits.