I bought a little rosemary tree pot plant from Lowe's and it was doing really great here in Austin. All of a sudden with the sudden dropping temp and actual winter, I brought her inside and tried bringing it in and out. But it slowly over time turned brown. Despite being watered when needed, the leaves dried up and falling off. Will it spring back new growth in the spring time?

  • Did you bring it in before or after the frosts started? And got a picture? Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:06
  • I brought it in before, winter was typically warm other years. I brought her out whenever it was warm and relatively sunny but it hasn't been sunny anymore. I keep it near the sliding door for light. My tomato plant is suffering from this cold too.. photos.google.com/share/…
    – Lydia
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:24
  • "being watered when needed" needs clarification. Rosemary grows in dry areas, between rocks. In my garden, it is invading a stone wall (but not the ground), so you can imagine how much they like dry environment. In winter it needs a lot less water (or also no water). Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 8:42

3 Answers 3


Rosemary is hardy down to between -10 to - 05 deg.C; in a pot, its a bit more vulnerable, so -5 C is probably best. That is around 23 deg F,though shortlived exposure to 14 deg F would be fine. Every time you lift it into a heated environment, then put it back outside, then bring it in again, it suffers transition shock. These plants do not do well for any length of time in heated homes, so that and the transition shock are likely causes for its going brown/dying. I think your USDA zone is 8b, which means your winter temperatures are somewhere between 15 and 20 deg F, so unless you're having an exceptionally cold period, the Rosemary plant would have been better off left outdoors, in as sheltered and sunny a spot as possible, with some extra insulation round the pot, then moved to somewhere frost free but unheated if the temperatures are exceptionally cold (below 15).

It may already be dead, hard to say,but if you can find somewhere frost free but unheated, or a cool, bright room, where it might receive bright daylight/sunlight if there's any around, then it may produce new growth off the roots next spring or over winter.

  • It's been a cold winter this year according to Donald Trump. thehill.com/homenews/administration/… Austin has dropped to just below -5 Deg C at night. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 22:07
  • 2
    @GrahamChiu I think I'd better keep my British cockney mouth very firmly shut in reference to that particular source of opinion....
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 22:35
  • It's hilarious isn't it! Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 23:14
  • Thank you! I honestly have the worst luck ever with Rosemary, they always die on me. Quick too. I just bought this pot but good to know I was better off leaving it outside. But lately in Austin, past few weeks there's hardly a lick of sunlight. All my plants are strugling except for my avocado..
    – Lydia
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 23:58
  • Hardly a lick of sunlight in the UK either - but Rosemary survives just fine, unless we get a really bad winter (rare) though its not too keen on the wet in heavy soil,and there's quite a lot of wet here too
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 0:03

Looks like a case of poor drainage to me, coupled with your moving it into and out of the house, as Bamboo noted. If you bought it at Lowe's, did you repot it?

I've grown rosemary indoors in a heated room for something like 20 years now, with very little direct sunlight (east windows only). I've lost a few over the years, with only one of my deceased plants dying from overwatering - the rest dried out too much and never came back (usually during vacations). The one I over-watered had poor potting soil; the leaves turned black at the tips before wilting and going brown.

You do NOT have to grow rosemary in an unheated room - they take forced air heat just fine. I leave mine indoors all year.

Rosemary likes very well drained soil and dislikes sitting in water. I highly doubt that your lack of sunshine is the cause (it's very cloudy here in Wisconsin most winters, and as noted, my plants get very little direct sunlight anyway).

If you want to try again, repot whatever plant you buy into a very free-draining potting soil (lots of perlite helps), keep in an east window during the winter, and move it outside early in your spring, keeping it in the shade at first and then gradually moving it into the sun over a period of a week or so. I water mine when the pot feels light when I pick it up, not when the top of the soil dries out.

  • Just for clarification: you are growing it indoors all year or just during winter?
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 7:50
  • I grow rosemary indoors all year. It needs more water in the summer, when it also gets more direct sunlight.
    – Jurp
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 0:06

The Rosemary plant are of Mediterranean origin so biologically not able to cope with a winter. If you managed to get it in before the chill killed it, then the alternative is that you've over watered it.

I suggest removing from the pot to inspect the roots to see if they're all mush or not. If not, it might have a chance of surviving but I doubt it.

My rosemary plant was almost dead from an inadvertent lack of watering with only some tips of green, but since they're drought tolerant it's springing back to life in my summer.

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  • my rosemary was llooking like that but browner leaves and because of lack of sunshine, I hardly had to water it bc it was taking forever for the water to dry up.
    – Lydia
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 0:00
  • Well, Mediterranean, yes, unable to cope with some winter,no. Mine get snowed in every winter and while I’m at the borderline of “too cold” they typically manage just fine. I have a “rosemary edge” in my herb garden and no loss of plants in the last four winters since I planted them.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 7:48
  • What about a small rosemary plant in a pot outside in snow? Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 17:58

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