Can Rosemary Be Grown in Florida?

“Can one grow rosemary in Florida? Mine always dies.” Question from Jane of Tampa, Florida

Answer: Yes. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10, 1-5 feet) can be grown in Florida, but it may need extra care because it is adapted to an entirely different climate.

Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean where it grows in upland, limestone soils, endures sunny, dry weather conditions through much of the year, and cool, dry winters. The hot, rainy, humid weather in Tampa, Florida is not what rosemary is naturally adapted to. This is probably the source of your trouble. Subtropical weather excesses can stress rosemary out, which can encourage pest and disease problems, with root rot caused by excess water being the biggest threat. With that said, you can grow it in Florida with care. Here are my suggestions.

  1. Grow yours in pots that can be moved indoors and out. Rosemary can reach a large size at maturity, so pick a fitting pot size (~2-3 gallons). Make sure it has holes at the bottom for good drainage and is light-colored to reflect the heat.
  2. Plant it in a well-drained planting mix. I suggest Black Gold® Natural & Organic Potting Mix amended with three parts potting mix to one part Black Gold® Perlite.
  3. Place it in a location with high sunlight that’s protected from rain, so you can manage irrigation better. Below an overhang in a south-facing location would be perfect. Allow the soil in the pot to dry out somewhat between watering.
  4. Consider growing your rosemary indoors where its cooler or move it indoors and outdoors as the weather becomes more or less favorable for growth.
  5. During the cooler winter months, reduce watering to once a week–maybe even less.

I hope that these tips help. Now would be a good time to pot up a new rosemary plant due to Tampa’s milder January weather. (Click here to read more about growing rosemary.)

Happy rosemary growing!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

Can You Help Me Learn How to Grow Herbs?

“I want to start growing my own fresh herbs. I am CLUELESS on gardening….help!” Question from Lisa of Erie, Pennsylvania

Answer: You are in luck! Herbs are some of the easiest plants you can grow. Almost all herbs require full sun, fertile soil with good drainage, and average water. Some are perennials (meaning they will survive the winter and grow each year) and others are annuals (meaning they will survive just one growing season and die). They are very easy to harvest. Just clip the leaves as you need them, being sure to leave enough to keep the plant full and healthy. Here are some great herbs to grow in your USDA Hardiness Zone 5 area.

Perennial Herbs

All of these herbs will live for at least three years in the garden. At planting time, be sure to give them good soil. If planting them in pots, they grow best in Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix, which is approved for organic gardening. If growing them in a prepared, weed-free garden work some Black Gold Garden Compost Blend into the soil to ensure they perform really well. After your herbs have been initially planted, water them every other day to help them become established. After a couple of weeks, you can water garden-grown plants less unless the ground becomes very dry. Potted herbs will need to be watered every other day or even daily if the weather is very hot and windy.

Lavender: Grow this easy herb in full, hot sun and raised very well-drained soil. The fragrant, shrubby perennials have pretty flowers that are highly attractive to bees. Many are not very winter hardy, but there are a few that will survive your winters. (Click here to learn more about growing lavender up north.)

Mint: Everyone loves mint, but this aggressive herb will take over a garden in no time, so plant it in a big pot filled with good potting soil. This will keep its roots from roaming.

Oregano: Like mint, oregano is a fast spreader but not quite as aggressive as mint. It should also be planted in a large pot.

Sage: This classic, bushy herb is evergreen and continues to look nice through winter. It’s broad, dusty gray leaves smell pungent when crushed, and in early summer, stems of pretty violet-blue flowers appear. I like to harvest it in the fall for late-season dishes.

Thyme: French thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a favorite herb for flavor with lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) being a close second for taste. (Click here to learn more about other lemon-scented herbs.) Plant thyme in rock gardens or south-facing beds.

Annual Herbs

Annual herbs can be grown from seed or purchased at your favorite plant nursery.

Basil: This is one of the best annual herbs for hot summer days. It can easily be grown in the garden or containers. (See the video below to learn how to care for container-grown basil.) Clip the leaves all summer to keep plants tidy and flavorful.

Cilantro: This cool-season herb grows best in spring or fall. Harvest cilantro leaves when they are lush and green. As the plants mature, they produce frilly white flowers that develop into round seed heads, which can be ground to create the spice coriander.

Dill: Dill is a cool-season herb like cilantro. Its delicate dilly leaves taste great in salads, and its seeds can be used to flavor dill pickles.

Parsley: Parsley grows and tastes best in the spring or fall. Sometimes it will survive one winter, but it is best grown as an annual. Once it has flowered, it is time to pull it from the ground and plant more.

I hope that these growing tips help!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

Recipe: Fresh Herbed Cucumber Cocktails

Cucumber Cocktail refreshing-300x300

Nothing is more refreshing in summer than a delicious cocktail made with crisp cucumbers and aromatic herbs harvested straight from your garden. These drinks contain fresh rosemary and basil, though you can also replace them with fresh mint, if you like. Whip up one of these delicious summer cocktails, and let your party stand above the rest.

Cucumber & Basil Mojito

2 sprigs fresh basil leaves
2 slices cucumber
1 lime, quartered
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1 shot white rum
4 ounces club soda
Crushed ice
Makes 1 serving

In a tall, sturdy cocktail glass, add the fresh basil leaves and raw cane sugar. Macerate the sugar and mint together at the bottom of the glass with a wooden spoon and then squeeze in the lime. Add the rum, cucumber slices, and let the mix sit for 5 minutes before adding the ice, club soda, mixing. Finish the drink with a slice of cucumber and fresh basil sprig.


Cucumber & Rosemary Lemonade Chiller

1 cup fresh cucumber slices
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cups water
5 shots ounces vodka
1 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of approximately 5-6 large lemons)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 cup crushed ice
Makes 5 servings

Place the superfine sugar, lemon juice, and vodka in a glass pitcher, and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cucumber and rosemary and allow the flavors to marry for 20 minutes. Add the water, ice, and mix well before serving. Finish each drink with a sprig of rosemary and a lemon slice.