How to Revive a Dying Rosemary Plant Properly

Last Updated on November 10, 2022 by Stephanie

They are a low-maintenance perennial plants that can last as long as 15 years if given the proper maintenance.

Rosemary originates from Southern European countries that boarder the Mediterranean sea, and therefore are specifically adapted to the climate that are characteristic of the Mediterranean environment.

To revive rosemary, you must emulate the conditions in the Mediterranean with a particular focus on soils that drain well with full sun, and frequent irrigation.

If your rosemary appears to be unwell, there are a variety of methods to revive it but first , you must determine the root of the issues…

Find out the reason why the Rosemary requires a Resurrection

The most frequent reasons why rosemary is dying are:

  • Root rot is caused by the constant moisture surrounding the root. Rosemary is susceptible to excessive irrigation, which could result in the plants to shrink and leaves to change color to yellow or brown.
  • Potted roses may be prone to poor growth and brown or yellow foliage because they are tied to a pot or being planted in the wrong pot. contain drainage holes at the bottom.
  • Rosemary that isnt growing (due to the absence of sunlight or lack of regular pruning, or because the roots are confined to pots).
  • Rosemary that has been damaged by frost or is not growing after winter.
  • The rose is turning yellow and has fewer flowers because of over irrigation or excessive nitrogen as a result of fertilizer addition or rich soils.

Continue reading to find out how to resolve these issues and revive the plant of rosemary to ensure it re-grows with healthy green leaves with a better scent, a more flavor and flowers next season…

Rosemary along with Root Rot

  • Symptoms. The roses with root rot can appear to appear wilted or falling over with leaves that changes color from brown to black, or yellow or dry and brittle look.
  • Causes. Insufficient watering, heavy rainfall, high humidity , and slow draining soils, can contribute to the development of fungal and root rot.

Fungal and root rot, both of which are diseases that attack the roots are the most frequent causes of the death of rosemary plants.

Rosemary is a native of in the Mediterranean area of Europe in which it is found in stony or sandy well-draining soils, often along the coast or along hillsides.

Their natural environment is one that has frequent rains with low humidity, hot sunshine and higher temperatures. They also enjoy an enjoyable breeze that aids in reducing the amount of the amount of moisture in the foliage.

Once rosemary is established (after some time) it is considered to be an irrigable plant that thrives in the absence of.

The issues that arise from growing rosemary usually due to too much attention and care from gardeners.

Rosemary thrives when fed every two weeks in hot temperatures (as as the pot is larger than 16 inches) and doesnt require any additional water during winter.

Root rot can happen at any time due to excessive moisture surrounding the roots, but it is more prevalent during winter when there is more precipitation and less transpiration.

How to Revive Rosemary With Root Rot

  • If your rosemary is showing signs of root rot, it is crucial to cut back your watering as soon as you notice. If your rosemary is in the pot, then protect it from rain if you can to give the soil the chance to dry.
  • Get rid of any moisture-retentive material around the base of the rosemary, which could cause water around roots like decaying leaves and compost, or any other organic mulch.
  • If the brown leaves and stems are large and gradually getting worse, take the rosemary out of the pot, or move it off the ground (if it is possible) and examine the roots. Cut off any roots that are slimy or dark visible and cut off any brown leaves or stems to restore healthy growth. Clean the pruners with an absorbent cloth and disinfectant after each cut to stop the spread of the fungus.
  • Replant the rosemary, ideally in a new container since pots offer better drainage. Use a potting mix that contains at minimum 20% sand or grit , and 80percent potting soil or compost that replicates the soil of rosemarys native habitat. Make sure to plant rosemary in full sunlight.

Replanting the rosemary in new soil, decreasing the irrigation and protecting the plant from rain where it is possible that the rosemary has the greatest chance of reviving.

rosemary cutting held up by hand with silver rings

In the event that your yard is sloppy or has clay soil, or is particularly moist-retentive because of amendments to organic matter, then the planting of rosemary in pots is most likely to be the best choice because its likely to die from root rot if placed in a slow draining garden soil.

(Read my article on how to prepare soil can be used to grow rosemary can be used in containers).

Pots and containers are ideal for this, as you can have a greater control over the soil shape and its simpler to add horticultural sand or grit to enhance the drainage and aeration of your soil, allowing the roots to dry out between periods of watering, and remain healthy.

(Read my article on selecting the most suitable containers for the rosemary).

The suns rays are essential to grow rosemary because it improves the overall health of the plant, which increases its resistance to fungal and root rot illnesses that can assist it to recover.

Fungal disease is known to be a threat to plants that are unhealthy, therefore by re-creating the conditions where rosemary thrives, it will ensure that the plant is more able to fight off disease and perhaps be able to recover.

When the root decay is severe (most of the leaves and stems have turned yellow or brown while the plants are losing its vigor) The rosemary might not be able to recover. It could be worthwhile replacing the rosemary, and then applying an organic fungicide to the soil to ensure that any fungus doesnt spread to new plants.

You can also try to grow healthy cuttings of the rosemary plant since it is a fairly high chance of success with propagation, and it is possible to start multiple plants at no cost.

(To find out more, read the article what is the reason for my rosemary becoming to brown?)

Revive Rosemary That is Not Growing

  • Symptoms. Slow growth, with spindly, maybe woody branches, and a only a few flowers
  • Causes. The rose is not in full sun. The plant could be pot bound, and not regularly pruned.

Rosemary thrives best in full sun , and will not do well in shade.

The leaves are at their most fragrant and delicious in the sunniest, hottest seasons because the amount of sun directly correlates to rosemarys essential oils present in rosemary leaves which give its distinct taste and scent.

The rose is not afflicted with issues resulting from a deficiency of nutrients since it is able to thrive in medium to low nutrient soils with a high amount of sand or grit.

But they could be affected when the pot is too small , as the roots will are not able to access nutrients, which could slow the growth of rosemary.

The stems and leaves of rosemary can be cut at any time throughout the growing season cook, but rosemary will respond to a sharp cut every year to encourage new growth and slow the development of the base of wood.

How to Revivify Rosemary that isn’t Growing

Make sure to plant the rosemary in full sunlight for optimal results, otherwise it might not thrive in shade and will not last quite a long time. Plant the rosemary in full sunlight or (more easily) in the case of pots, place the pot in the sunlight and the rosemary will regenerate and begin to grow again when its in the growth season.

The roses thrive in soils with sandy soils, so its not affected by the lack of nutrients. However, the plant that is pot bound can be root bound or deplete the soil in its potting pot of nutrients if its had the same pot in place for a lengthy period of.

The best option is to plant your rosemary into a fresh pot that is much bigger than the pot that was previously (around 16 inches in diameter). This will allow the rosemary roots more space to grow and absorb nutrients, so that it can begin expanding.

A weak fertilizer in spring can be beneficial when the rosemary is deficient in nutrients in a pot that is smaller.

Half strength is the minimum amount of fertilizer thats needed. If you apply too much fertilizer, it could cause root burns or trigger the growth of new sappy plants and leaves that have less flavor and scent, which is more prone to diseases.

The rosemary plant can be cut to its leaves to be used for cooking anytime in the summer or spring months and even into the early fall.

It is nevertheless advisable practice to provide the herb with a thorough pruning to encourage new growth. The most important thing to remember when pruning is not to cut through the woody root of the rosemary because the old wood doesnt develop new leaves.

Revive Rosemary in Pots and Containers

Rosemary thrives exceptionally well in containers and pots (if they are favorable) due to the favorable drainage of containers in comparison to soil in the garden.

However, rosemary may suffer in pots if

  • The pot is small that causes roots bound to the pot slow growth, and the leaves could change color.
  • The rosemary may be stressed by soil that is damp if the pot is not equipped with drainage holes in its base.

How to Revive Rosemary in Pots

  • The rosemary should be planted (or transplant) in a pot that is approximately 16 inches if the roots are bound to the pot. Make use of a soil mix made up of compost, potting soil or sand to create the best drainage conditions.
  • Make sure the pot is equipped with drainage holes in the bottom and dont use a drip tray underneath the pot since this could keep the soil moist.

Make sure to plant the rosemary in a large (16 inches wide or more) container or pot. A bigger pot will allow the roots to grow correctly, so that they can get access to all the nutrients and water it needs.

A bigger pot has the capacity to hold more soil, which will aid in insulating the rosemary roots during winter.

With a bigger pot and a new soil, rosemary plant with roots that are bound to the pot should grow in a couple of weeks, displaying more green leaves, a stronger aroma and a distinct flavor.

The most common mistake when the growing of rosemary is that it should be planted in a decorative container or drip tray to ensure that the excess water doesnt disappear after watering. This is similar to the effects of excessive watering and can increase the chance for root rot.

Make sure to plant rosemary in pots with drainage holes at the bottom and do not use a drip tray.

The use of feet on the pot to lift it off the ground will improve drainage, and allow you to collect any water that is leaking into a tray when it is required (such for instance, if youre growing rosemary indoors and dont want the water to drip out of into the container).

This allows excess water to drain away after watering , and will allow that the root area to dry out to ensure that they remain healthy.

(Read my article on on how you can water your rosemary to determine the ideal watering schedule for your garden. Also, check out my article on on how you can maintain the rosemary inside containers).

Rosemary With Damage After Winter

  • Symptoms. The brown foliage appears damaged (particularly the delicate new leaves).
  • Causes. Rosemary isnt particularly cold-resistant. The leaves and roots are susceptible to damage from frost and root rot in Winter.

The rosemary plant is a native of warm climates of the Mediterranean where Winters are mild and never dip below the freezing point.

It is therefore not a cold-hardy plant ( hardy to USDA zone 7) and is frequently damaged by snow, frost and ice. Older plants doing better in colder weather, and younger plants being more susceptible to being damaged.

If you live located in an area that is cold and regularly has hard frosts in Winter, I suggest that you plant rosemary in a pot , so you can bring it inside (and put it in a sunny window in your home or garage or a heated green house) during winter.

You can, of course, prevent the growth of rosemary in your garden by covering it by covering it with fleece or a cloche prior to a cold winter night, which will help protect the plant from damage.

The rosemary is not a need for fertilizer because of its preference for medium to low nutrients, but should you need to fertilize your rosemary, ensure that its early in the Spring, as fertilizing too early in the growth season could encourage new growth that is more susceptible to damage from frost.

Dont cut rosemary too early in the fall, as it could stimulate new growth, which is ideal, but it needs time to mature, so it can be more durable to cold temperatures during the winter months.

How to Revive Rosemary After Winter

  • Cut off any damaged leaves or stems from the rosemary plant in the spring following the last frost.
  • Improve drainage in the soil you are working on by amendment it with sand or grit . This will help prevent moist soils that could lead to root rot.
  • Place rosemary in a large pot , so that the soil will be able to insulate the roots.

It is essential that you plant your rosemary in a relavively large pot , especially if you live in an area with winters that are cold.

The part that is woody of rosemary is the least susceptible to cold temperatures and is generally free of mild frosts. The younger, more tender plant is more susceptible to damage from frost and the roots are the most susceptible to freezing temperatures.

To ensure the roots are protected, move your rosemary into a bigger pot, as it will have greater capacity for soil, which can help shield the roots from the cold. If you plant your rosemary in the ground, it is usually shielded from frost.

Dont cut off damaged areas of frost the rosemary in Winter when there is still a risk of frost in the beginning of spring, as this makes the rosemary more susceptible to frost damage starting from the point it was cut.

As the weather warms up in the spring, it is the ideal time to trim back the damage caused by frost on the rosemary. Cut back to the healthy portion of the plant. This will encourage new growth and revitalize the rosemary.

If the rosemary has become dry and brown after Winter, it could be suffering from root rot during Winter, and is probably to be dead (unless there is a healthy growth that can be used to harvest cuttings for propagation).

The rose is the most susceptible to fungal diseases in winter because of the cold, damp soil. This is why it is important to amending soils prior to planting by adding sand or grit in order to improve the drainage.

If you have a potted rosemary, its an ideal idea to move the plant into a new pot which contains approximately 20% sand or grit, and around 80 percent compost.

If your rosemary grows planted in the ground, I suggest making use of a fork to create space within the ground around it (whilst taking care to avoid root systems) and sprinkle garden sand on the soil to aid in drainage of the plant without disturbing it excessively.

It is best to take proactive action when taking care of rosemary in winter, but by trimming back the damaged frost growth you can get the rosemary back to grow in the coming season.

The Rosemary with Yellow leaves and a few flowers

  • Symptoms. The leaves of roses are changing to yellow, with only a few flowers, and a less pleasant aroma and a less savory taste.
  • Causes. Most often, it is result from the excess nitrogen in the soil due to soils that are rich in nutrients or due to excessive fertilizer.

The roses thrive in low to moderate nutrient soils which tend to be sandy , or even stony due to the soil type in its original Mediterranean range.

If gardeners plant rosemary, the soil could be altered by manure from fertile soils that contain large quantities of nitrogen from the fertilizer used.

This is in contrast of the preferred conditions for rosemary of sandy soils, which dont hold much nutrients.

A lot of nitrogen isnt beneficial for rosemary because it could cause root burns and cause the leaves to yellow, and reduce the flavor and aroma that the rosemary leaves provide.

In addition, excess nitrogen can cause the growth of many leaves (but with no taste) but at the expense of flowers.

Rosemary is the most fragrant and is the best tasting it is planted in very poor soils, with plenty of sun and frequent watering.

How to revive Rosemary Flowers and yellow leaves

The best way to bring back rosemary with its green leaves and a mild scent is to replicate the soil conditions of the Mediterranean and to avoid the use of fertilizers in the majority of cases.

The rosemary plant is hardy that thrives in the absence of care, so it doesnt require any additional fertilizer. The yellow leaves can be an indication of excessive nitrogen, not necessarily a deficiency.

  • Do not use fertilizers if you regularly do so. A lot of fertilizer can be harmful, therefore avoid fertilizer use and the leaves of rosemary will begin to turn green in time, and will increasing strength of the scent in the coming months and weeks.
  • If it is at all feasible, its an excellent idea to attempt to amend the soil so that it has more sand or grit since they tend are not very beneficial as regards nutrients to soil, and also help improve drainage in a porous structure that rosemary plants love.

Making amends to the soil is simpler if the rosemary is in a container or pot because you can simply add sand to the pot when you repot or transfer the rosemary into the new pot using the sandy soil mix consisting comprising approximately 20 percent sand or grit, and 20% compost or potting soil.

If the rosemary is growing in the ground and it is an established and large-scale plant, the most effective option is to employ a fork to aid in aerating root zone soil. Then spread sand around the plants base that improves the soils structure and balances the high nutrient soils, so that the nitrogen concentration isnt as high.

In the course of a couple of months this will allow the rosemary recover and the leaves can change from yellow to a healthy green, but it could be a while before rosemary blooms properly once more.

(To find out more about the solutions (for more information about the solutions, check out my article Why is my rosemary changing color?)

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason that rosemary requires revival is typically due to roots rot, yellow leaves or a lack of growth, a lack of flavor and aroma or damage following Winter.
  • To bring back rosemary that has root rot, you must improve drainage in the soil and reduce the frequency of watering and spread the rosemary out so that it can have breezes around the leaves. While amending the soil, look at your rosemarys roots, and cut off the slimy, diseased roots.
  • The rosemary can be planted or transferred into a larger container or pot so that the soil is sufficient to protect the roots and provide the nutrients needed for the rosemary to flourish.
  • The rosemary that has suffered from frost damage must be cut back following Winter , when the weather is warming up and will encourage new growth. Make sure the soil is draining since soils that are damp during winter are usually the root rots cause or cause fungal diseases.
  • The roses thrive in low to moderately fertile soils. The roses can change color and show fewer flowers because of over-watering soils with high nutrients or the use of fertilizers. The rose is not usually in need of any fertilizer and is best planted on soil which has been amended by grit or sand so it is nitrogen-rich and in balance. Rosemary will recover the next year if you do not fertilize and alter the soil in a way that mimics the soil of its original Mediterranean habitat.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)