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Herb Garden
Published October 24, 2022 by Nicole Burke

How to Keep Your Rosemary Topiary Alive

Filed Under:
container garden
herbs
rosemary
Rosemary topiary from Whole Foods

Keep Your Indoor Herbs Happy

Not only do rosemary plants smell fantastic and look beautiful, they also taste good. They're the perfect low-maintenance plants to keep on a sunny windowsill indoors throughout the winter or even year round for delicious herb harvests at your fingertips. Next time you see an upright or arp rosemary or another organically grown herb at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, grab it and follow these simple steps to keep it happy.

supplies needed for repotting rosemary

Step One: Grab a Pot for Your Herb

Purchase a pot that's bigger than the one your rosemary topiary or herb originally came in. Most of these potted plants are sold to you in a state where they've already outgrown their pot. Why? Because that's what we customers like to buy!

We've been conditioned to look for full and mature and beautiful plants, and the nurseries know that no one's going to buy a plant that looks like it's not done growing—but that's exactly the kind we should be looking for.

The good news? You're getting a big, mature plant. The bad news? You're going to need a bigger pot to keep it alive.

For my rosemary topiary, I purchased a 10" wide pot to move it into.

While you're shopping, you'll also need some weed barrier cloth and compost.

whole foods rosemary topiary and larger terra cotta pot for replanting

Step Two: Prepare the Pot

Add a small square of weed barrier cloth to the bottom of your pot to keep soil from running out every time you're watering.

cut weed barrier cloth to size

Then, fill the container with a fresh layer of compost at the bottom, checking to be sure how much compost you'll need for the plant's neck (where the stem meets the soil) to reach the top of the new pot.

Your goal is to plant the rosemary up to its "neck" and no deeper. So add a little compost and test out whether this will raise the plant to the proper height.

use weed barrier cloth to keep soil from running out of herb pot when watering

Step Three: Loosen the Roots of Your Rosemary Topiary

Next up is the most challenging partespecially if you're a little scared to cut on your plant. If the roots of your rosemary plant are bound like mine, you'll need to cut on the roots a bit and separate them with a dibber, a chopstick, or pruners.

rosemary plant is root bound due to too many rosemary plants in one pot from Whole Foods

The goal is to loosen the roots so that the ends are more exposed and will be more able to absorb the air, nutrients, and water they need to survive.

use pruners to begin separating the roots from one another
Use a dibber to further separate roots

The picture below shows loosened versus bound roots.

loosened roots versus bound roots

Step Four: Pot Up

Once you've loosened the roots of your rosemary plant, it's finally time to pot it up. Place it level in the pot, up to its neck, and then fill the pot with the remaining compost necessary to support it.

Lightly water in the plant and place it in a spot where it will get some sunshine (but not too much) for a few days as it adjusts to its new home.

rosemary with loosened roots placed into the pot

Learn more about starting an indoor herb garden. Herbs make the perfect starter plants as you grow your skills in the garden, and we've got tons of resources to help you get started!

Learn more tips to grow your own year-round supply of herbs

Join Gardenary 365 to learn how to master growing herbs at home. You'll also have access to our complete course library, including Seed Starting Indoors, Microgreens, Cut Flower Gardening, and more.