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The aromatic rosemary is one of the most popular herbs. Its botanical name is Rosmarinus officinalis and it belongs to the mint family. The subshrub with the needle-like leaves is a Mediterranean plant. It is predominantly found in the Mediterranean region. Since rosemary is used to a sunny and warm climate, you should prepare it for the cold winter. Here we explain how this can best be achieved.

Overwinter in the house

If a particularly cold winter has been announced, it makes sense to bring the rosemary indoors. This also applies if you live in a region that is at high risk of frost and where temperatures drop below -10 °C. If you have already had the experience that the soil in your garden freezes right down to the roots, you should definitely overwinter the rosemary indoors. This is always recommended for non-hardy species and young plants - regardless of the region.

location indoors

If you want to overwinter your rosemary in a pot in your apartment or house, you should bring it to a suitable location. In addition to unheated rooms, hallways and stairwells, a basement is also suitable under certain circumstances. The main conditions for site selection are.

  • cool
  • 5 to 10 °C are ideal
  • Frost free
  • bright

Brightness is important for the following reason: rosemary is an evergreen plant and also carries out photosynthesis in the winter months. In order for this to run smoothly, rosemary needs a lot of light all year round.

location outside

Under certain circumstances, you can also put your rosemary in a pot on the terrace or balcony. In this case, you should pay attention to these points.

  • Roots don't rot
  • Roots don't freeze
  • Earth does not freeze over completely
  • woody branches do not freeze

constant location

When overwintering in a pot, it is very important that the location remains the same over the winter. This means that the pot is not brought in from outside - or vice versa. The change in environmental conditions would harm the rosemary. If your plant has been on the balcony for the first few weeks and you would still like to bring it into the house, you can do so as an exception. However, you should not change it again. In the house, the rosemary gets used to the higher temperatures. As a result, he is no longer so hardy. The more constant the location remains, the better.

cold protection

Cold protection for the pot

In order for your rosemary to survive the winter on the balcony or terrace, the pot needs protection from the cold. It is helpful to place the container on a styrofoam plate. In this way you can prevent the rosemary from being overcooled and the bottom of the pot freezing to the ground. Another positive effect is that the plant is protected from moisture from below. In addition, you can protect the plant in the pot with the following measures.

  • Put leaves on the ground
  • put some mulch on the soil
  • Cover the soil with brushwood

It is important that the air permeability is still given. The protective layer must not be placed too firmly on the ground or even pressed down. To protect the parts of the plant above the ground from freezing, you can cover the entire plant. However, it must also be ensured that this protection is permeable to air.

For example:

  • Jute covers
  • Plastic fleece hoods
  • small mats made of bamboo
  • Coconut covers


If the rosemary is in the pot under a cover, you should help to ensure good ventilation. This also applies if the hoods are naturally air-permeable. The covers should be removed on frost-free days. But don't forget to put them back on the plant in good time so that the next frost doesn't catch them by surprise.

frost damage

Check for frost damage

Aeration on frost-free days is a good opportunity to inspect the rosemary for damage. This allows you to take appropriate action in good time if necessary. You should improve the protection against the cold or, if necessary, change the location. However, frost damage is almost the only risk, since pests are very rare in winter.


During the hibernation, rosemary needs very little water. You should therefore only water it rarely. However, it is important that it does not dry out completely. It is ideal if you water just enough so that the rosemary cannot dry out. Due to its origin, the Mediterranean plant can usually cope better with drought than with moisture. You should pay attention to this when watering in winter.

  • no waterlogging
  • a little more in strong sunlight
  • on the terrace and balcony only on frost-free days

Tip: Don't forget to water the rosemary under the protective hood on the balcony or terrace.

This is how you avoid waterlogging

Since rosemary is very sensitive if it gets too much water or waterlogging, you should prevent this. Water only when the soil feels dry. You can feel this best with your fingertips. Make sure excess water can always run off easily. You can use a pot with holes and place it on a saucer. The water can collect there. Remember to periodically remove the accumulated water. If your rosemary is outside under the open sky, you should omit the saucer. In a heavy rain, too much water would collect and dam up.


Rosemary should not be fertilized during the winter. A gift of additional nutrients would make the Mediterranean plant more sensitive. This would harm him in the cold season and should be avoided.

To cut

You do not need to cut the rosemary before or during the winter. Then he needs all his strength to hibernate. A pruning of the Mediterranean plant is only recommended in spring. You can cut the rosemary back to 10 or 20 cm above the ground. In most cases it drives out quickly.

After hibernation

Once the winter months and the risk of frost are over, you can free the rosemary from its protective cover. It makes sense to remove the cover for only a few hours at first. In this way, the rosemary can slowly get used to the new environmental conditions and temperatures. If you have covered the soil in the pot with leaves or mulch, this protective layer can now be removed. This also applies to coconut mats or styrofoam panels.

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