The HERB GARDEN Mother Lode...

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Hello All!

Yesterday I went to a dinner jazz club and got there early enough to have to sit in my car in front until they opened. Directly in front of me on the front lawn were two 4x8' raised beds. As I stared, I thought I recognized a Rosemary plant.

So, I get out to explore, and, sure enough, both beds were herb gardens. I wondered if the cook used them in the meals. When I got in and went to the bar, I spied the owner, and asked if they did. He told me he had just negotiated with the property owner to tear out those herb gardens and put in flowers, so I could take anything I wanted within the next week, cause after that it would all be gone!

There are two huge stands of Rosemary, at least 3-4 different types of mint, and several other herbs I can't name right offhand (I'll be posting pics for identification, LOL!).

I've been trying for over a year to get some Rosemary going in my yard, and it's just not happening. What I've brought home has stayed in containers, but I want to bring this stand home and put it in a raised bed.

My question is, "what is the best way to dig up, and relocate, these herbs to a spot in my yard? I already have a spot designated for the raised bed herb garden. It would be located along a brick wall, on the back (west-facing) side of my house. There are currently three large Nandinas growing there that would have to be dug out. Could I hold the herbs in large (15-25 gallon) containers until the bed and the spot is ready, do ya'll think? Also, what type of soil/growing medium should I fill the bed with? I've been learning that Rosemary thrives with total neglect and doesn't need a whole bunch of fertile soil (most herbs don't, yes?) Would regular garden soil be ok?

Please lmk soonest. I only have the next two weekends to get the stuff dug out.



Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

The four things rosemary needs are sun, drainage, sun and drainage. Don't feed them or water them -- herbs that have to fight a little produce more the oils we like them for.

I'd fill the bed with plain old cheap dirt. Maybe a little garden soil mixed in to loosening things up if the soil is really heavy there.

If they are large plants, I'd probably root prune and top prune them before planting. They'll be fine in containers as long as you don't dehydrate them but do be sure to let the soil dry out before watering again.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Nicole!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Would you tell me about root pruning the Rosemary, please?

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Hmmm... the easiest way to root prune since you are transplanting would probably be to go ahead and top prune by no more than 20%, then take your shovel and make a circle at the new drip line with sharp strokes. Lift the plant out and transfer to your container.

Linda-Chalker Scott, however, disagrees about the pruning, and she's a smart horticulturalist, so I may have to rethink my routine. If you are digging up a big shrub you are likely to end up root pruning whether you want to or not.

I would save any top cuttings, both for eating and also pot some of them up as insurance (or gifts). The potted ones need to stay moist but not wet. You can use rooting hormone if you want, but rosemary tends to root pretty easily. Some of the branches laying on the ground may have air layered roots anyway. Those are the best candidates to pot up.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I took cuttings from my big rosemary plant, stuck them in a cup with water, set them on my kitchen windowsill and they rooted.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - as you know, keeping as much of a root ball in place when transplanting is crucial to a plants success. You may find the large Rosemary plant too heavy to move.

I would look for some stems that have self-rooted, and remove several of them as carefully as possible. Wrap the roots in damp paper towels, take them home, plant them in regular garden soil, and water them in.

The other herbs could be transferred in regular pots, and treated as you would any other potted plant.

It has been my experience, that herbs grow like weeds.

Morongo Valley, CA

Oh, lucky you! What a great haul.

We had to transplant a rosemary bush in mid flower last year. We did no pruning.

The original plant had spread about three feet and was very heavy, so we ended up putting it on a tarp and towing it across the yard. Part of the root ball broke away and we transplanted that, too. Both plants survived but we have both the hot dry weather and the alkaline, free draining soil that rosemary loves.

If your soil is on the acid side, you might want to mix some lime into your future planting spot, and some bark, to help with drainage. As a new transplant, your rosemary will need more frequent deep watering the first year than it ever will in the future. Although with Houston's gully washer rains, that may not be a problem for you!

Good luck.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Oh, Thank you guys so much for all the tips and encouragement!

I have a girl crew meeting me tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. so the relocation can begin! It was either the wee hours before the supper club opened, or waaaaaaaay after dark to get this deed done, LOL! I am truly excited, and will be racing to get a couple more spots ready to receive some of the Rosemary. Nicole, thanks for your tip about the sunlight. I've located some sunnier spots.

I have a small rose bush that I cut down last fall, which has since grown back. It's about 3 ft. tall, and not unmanageable, so, I'm gonna take to it with a vengeance today, getting as much of it out as I can so I can put the Rosemary in the small bed it occupies. It's on the west side along my fence line, in full sun.

Also, I've been thinking of making a couple mounds for the Rosemary in the grass strip down my side yard entry. If I'm truly into reducing the grass footprint, this is certainly a way to do it! I'm thinking to space the mounds about 18" apart down this strip, which sits in full sun on a chain link fence between my neighbor's and my yard. It would be unobtrusive, yet serve a very necessary purpose there -- to grow into a nice neat little hedge and give me all the Rosemary I'll need!

Would you believe all this is because of some Rosemary Orange Marmalade a co-worker's wife makes? He brought me a small Ball jar of it last winter, and, after I got over the initial flavor of Rosemary (having NOT grown up with this herb in my life...), I TOTALLY fell in love with this stuff. Before that small jar was gone, I was smearing it on scrambled eggs, pork chops, steaks, a spoon, fingers, whatever!!!

The best part is that she gave me the RECIPE!!! I wanna make batches of this to give away during the holidays, hence the need for the Rosemary, LOL! Well, maybe not as much as I'm gonna collect, but, there's still that "reduce the grass footprint thing"..., LOL!!


P.S. I'll remember to post pics of the dig!!

P.S.S. Soon as I get good at making the marmalade, I'll send each one of you a jar as a "thank you!" Hopefully, by this winter!

This message was edited Jun 21, 2013 9:46 AM

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Can't wait to see pics. You also could take a couple of coffee cans or buckets of wet vermiculite to stick plants in for transfer to reduce dehydration in transit. Congrats on your wonderful find! Can't wait to see pics.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)


Now I know what to do with all those big red, plastic COFFEE CANS I've been saving!!!!!


Linda and her "Rosemary Rescue" Posse!!

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Yummy! :)

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Have fun digging! And be sure to reward your girl crew with tomatoes or other goodies. (Or at least beer.)

If at all possible, plant a rosemary bush where you will brush by it on the way to the front door, or along a regular pathway. I love catching a whiff when I come home or am just hauling the trash out.

A rosemary hedge is a good idea. You get to eat the trimmings and the bees will thank you for the winter blooming forage.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Pics for identification.

#1 The Rosemary
#2 & #3 Same plant both pics. NOID... very silky leaves.
#4 & #5 Same plant both pics. NOID...

Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

More pics.
#1 & #2 Same plant. Sort of asparagus hair on the ends.

Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Are pic 2 & 3 on the first grouping, maybe, sage? Have you pinched a leaf or two and smelled any of those, yet, to see if you recognize them? That Rosemary is a beauty.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

#2 & #3 look like oregano. Smell for verification.
#4 & #5 look like lavender. Purple flowers and lovely scent, yes?

Next post, that's fennel.

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

I'm not familiar with fennel and your post with the two pics very well may be fennel, but dill was my first reaction. They kinda remind me of my dill plants after they were at the end of their productive life. Good score!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Fennel, that one drthor grows, seperate it from most stuff like they have it... It doesn't like company. Not dill, tho the larger var do resemble it, they aren't NEARLY as delicate seeming of stem. 2&3, Oregano, yes, var unknown but that white bloom style is one I also have-is used to maintain and control slopes because the root mass gets wicked tangled thick. Am lookin at other pix, but some rosemarys don't resemble a Rosemary- there are several.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

#1 Rosemary appears to be Tuscan Blue, it is sold down south a lot and one used culinary-wise, like Goriza

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Fennel looks a lot like dill, only fennel is more bronze and dill is green. They're both good host plants for butterflies.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Rosemary-Treat them like weeds, like basils they need DEEP root room, mine do fine wherever we put them, but better under the edge of the dogwood, (or in my monarda,) oregano, all it needs is enough to root in and it doesn't care how shallow, but cant handle cold.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Dill will have a root, fennel has a bulb, even if not the bronze fennel, thats how you can spot ez

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

You guys are the bestest!!!

Based on the bulb vs. root clue, it would seem to be dill. I lifted a very deep single taproot.f

I put the Rosemary in a 10-gallon pot for a minute, until I get a hole dug in the side yard strip of grass.

Here's an after pic.

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

The taproot would seem to indicate dill; I thought I saw the beginnings of a bulb there. If fennel, the foliage will have an anise flavor. If dill, it will have a bitter flavor. Dill reseeds itself; fennel is a perennial unless you eat it. I can't quite bring myself to like fennel bulbs, which I suppose it good because they are a little tough to get a good fat bulb out of.

The black swallowtail caterpillars will eat both down to a nub. Here, the caterpillars don't show up until after the dill has seeded itself, so I let them have it. And the parsley... it always comes back.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I will agree on the IDs but do believe your unknown is fennel not dill. I grow both and the clue should be in your nose. Break off a bit, crush it and sniff. Dill is unmistakable but fennel should smell like licorice.

And on the oregano, crush, sniff and smell to be sure.

Your rosemary needs to have dry feet so be sure to provide good drainage. A raised bed will help also for those Houston deluges.

P.S. good score but I don't want a jar of your Rosemary Orange marmalade. I just want your recipe. lol

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Ugh, i was thinkin with a split brain. drat. I meant dill, and you may lose it with the move, There are 3 types and that one isn't fern leaf, so it leaves one of the taller var. It was planned as a kitchen garden, so has the plants that you would grab when cooking...

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, again, ya'll!

Thanks for the "dry feet" tip on that Rosemary. I've been watering it regularly since I put it in that pot, 'cause I didn't want to lose it. I may need to back off on the watering, now.

As to the plant mystery. Ok. Maybe there was a bulb developing on our mystery plant, now that you mention it, Nicole. I sniffed and, at first, it seemed to be light citrusy, like dill. But, I'm gonna, literally, chew on it. I'd know licorice in a heartbeat!

I think I brought home some lavender! The fuzzy little leaves with little blue flowers? Total score, I think!

And, I believe oregano and tarragon are in the mix, too. Will explore further!


P.S. I ate Eggplant (with shrimp) every day last week. A "Spicy Eggplant" recipe off of (Recipe #1, with a few adjustments -- actually just reduced the amount of salty Soy Sauce waaaaaaaaaaaay down)...

I was using my white Gretel eggplants before I lost them, slicing them on the diagonal for the dish. Yesterday, I had to use my Black Beauty cannon balls, and I cubed them for the dish. Only a very, very subtle difference in the taste of the two eggplants in the dishes. Either one, it's still good enough to eat every day, LOL! Also, I almost cubed up some rotisserie chicken instead of the shrimp, but, eggplant just screams to be paired with seafood!


League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Quote from stephanietx :
Fennel looks a lot like dill, only fennel is more bronze and dill is green. They're both good host plants for butterflies.

Good to know. I have two dill plants that do not look so well these days and I was going to pull them. I think I'll just leave them alone for the butterflies, and plant more dill elsewhere!

This message was edited Jun 24, 2013 11:16 AM

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Fennels arent always bronze.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

While I have a moment...
DILL - Anatheum graveolus, biennial, subject to Alternaria blight and Aster yellows, var: Bouquet, Mammoth, Dukat, and Super Dukat- hybrid. attracts tje parsley worm. Doesnt like transplanting. I will return, got togo

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Forgot fern leaf dill in the list. am still rushing...

Lavenders smell soapy to me- every single one I ever put my nose to...

Fennel: foeniculum vulgare perennial, biennial. var, azoricum, purpureum, nigr. Florence fennel, finocchio has the bulbing stem. Do not confuse with Nigella sativa, nor Ferula communis... also dont fret if you lose this one in the move...It doesmt like being disturbed either.

Oregano; organum vulgare is easy to confuse with marjoram, origanum majorana. I havent figured out how to do so yet...

Hyssop smells devine. Tarragon, A dracunculus var sativa, French tarragom doesn't make seeds. Russian tarragon is supposedly inferior flavor and does make seeds.

Dill and fennel are both of the carrot family by the way, and that is what I taste when chewing them. carrots. MORE PIX when poss? I am still collecting my herbs...

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Oregano vs. marjoram - well, marjoram is frost tender. So if you get a good hard frost this winter and it doesn't die... you know you have oregano. But it's possible it'd be perennial in Houston.

Marjoram is less strong tasting than regular culinary oregano. Same genus, though.

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Good stuff, kittriana!! thx~

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

To me, Marjoram is a full, rich sweet oregano taste and smell. Oregano is sharp and reminds me of Italian cooking. Like 'em both though.

JohnCrichton75 ~ for me dill is a winter grower. Although it is a biennual, mine only lasts one season. Thinking the heat is the culprit. For having started mine in winter, it is now developing seed just as the crop of cucumbers is producing. That may be the ticket for dill pickles.

On the tarragon, it is unlikely it is French tarragon. French tarragon malingers and suffers in this heat. Would like to see your photos of that one Linda.

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Pods- I was wondering about the life cycle of dill. I had not the time to research just yet, but your comments seem consistent with what I have observed this season. I planted two 7" dill transplants in March and each grew 16" wide and maybe just as tall, if I recall. Very robust and if you brushed the plants you got an immediate whiff of that great dill smell. Funny thing is that I never really harvested anything as I never could find a use in my mundane culinary repertoire. But as the cukes began to arrive, we began to make cucumber sandwiches and of course pickles. That was at the beginning of the month or late May, and I was thinking at the time: man, I thought I had more dill than this, lol. The plants look sparse now and have not regrown any fronds or leaves or whatever they are called. What foliage remains is bolting, and I will leave them in hopes that they attract butterflies as Stephanie mentioned.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

As far as I can tell, my oreganos have no flavor, neither of em. both are white flowered, but one shoots up a flower spike, the other has that ringed looking arrangement on it..

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

The plant in photo #2 looks like Spanish marjoram (Thymus mastichina). I have some and it looks just like that, with the funny little flower bundles. Congrats on the great haul, Linda!!!

I also have Mexican Mint Marigold which is supposed to be a good substitute for french marjoram which wont grow here. It's too hot. I have the standard oregano and standard Rosemary.

This message was edited Jun 25, 2013 1:15 AM

Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

good grief, I would just fall all over that lavender. I love it! What a great score!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Unfortunately, some of the herbs aren't making it.

That big Rosemary is drying up, and I don't know why. It's planted in the same soil it was dug out of, and I have been watering diligently. Maybe transplant shock?

Keeping hope alive...

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