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Successful Overwintering of Rosemary and Unplanted Perennials

Usually when I attempt to keep Rosemary (a tender perennial in this zone) alive, I bring it inside in the fall, and it dies before Christmas.  But every year, I persisted, thinking “this year, it would be different.”  This past fall, fate changed the way I handled things.  When I fractured a metatarsal in my foot the first week of November and ended up in a boot cast, it meant I was unable to finish up the last of my gardening for the year.  I had a few true perennials and three small blueberry shrubs that I had not gotten around to planting, along with a garden full of leaves that I was not able to rake.

A friend raked the leaves into a pile that I planned on moving to my compost pile in the spring when I would be more capable.  I mulled over what to do with the plants until spring and decided to try a version of the garden nursery  technique for overwintering balled and burlapped trees and shrubs.  They heel them into piles of shredded mulch to insulate them for the winter.  I thought that I should try to place the plants into the leaf pile for the winter.  The leaves would insulate the plants the same way the mulch would.  While I was at it, I decided to throw my Rosemary plants (R. officinalis) and a Creeping Rosemary cultivar (which I lost the tag for),  into the leaf pile for the winter.

Last week, I felt that the weather was warm enough to retrieve the plants from the pile.  I was amazed that all of shrubs and perennials had survived the winter unscathed, including both Rosemary plants.  The perennials that I overwintered in this manner were:  hollyhocks, bear berry, and silver and green santolina. 

I now plan on overwintering Rosemary this way every year in my newly placed leaves in my compost pile.  Hopefully, I will be more proactive in getting my plants in the ground this year, but just in case, it is good to know that in case I can’t get them in the ground, this technique will work.

Happy gardening!

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