training rosemary topiaries & other garden things

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Gardening26 Comments

We almost broke into the 60’s in Minnesota last weekend, so I had gardening on the brain.  We’re still waiting for all of the snow to melt and the ground to thaw, but the warmth and sunshine gave me the itch to get my hands dirty.  It’s going to be a while before I can start on the yard, so I decided to repot some of my houseplants that needed more elbow (root) room and give everything a haircut.

First up were the rosemary plants that have been flanking my kitchen sink for a few months.  I’ve never had much luck keeping rosemary alive for very long, but plants love all of the rooms on the back side of our house, which faces south.  We get beautiful light all day long, so they can grow and stay healthy.

They were both looking like they needed more soil and I have been wanting to trim them back to train them into a topiary shape, so I moved them to a bigger pot, added more soil, and started to strategically trim.

I added some moss to top off the soil as well, which helps them not look so naked!  I’ve read that it can take years to train rosemary into a nice topiary shape, but I’m not planning on these being very tall.  It’s still going to take a while, though, so I’ll keep you posted.

I also trimmed back the two creeping plants I have the in the kitchen and eating area.  They love it in this light as well.  The one on the scale was about to engulf the scale and it even started creeping onto the island, so I cut it back.

I cut the other one back as well and moved it to a crock in front of the back stairs.  I haven’t had greenery there since Christmas and I was missing it.  It will be a little further from the window, so hopefully it’ll still thrive.

For those interested, the plant is called a “wandering jew”.  I found it in the houseplant section at Home Depot.  I looked it up online and the specific variety is the Dwarf Bolivian Wandering Jew plant.  How in the world did it get that name?!  Anyway, that’s what it is!

And, in other plant news, I loaned some small pots to our church for a women’s garden-themed dinner, so I ended up with some arugula sprouts in them when they were returned!  I am keeping them in the studio for now and will see what I can make of them.  We do have a garden bed, but it’s horribly overgrown and we don’t have any protection against deer.  I am hoping to get a flower garden and small vegetable/herb garden going this summer, though, so this is a nice start.

And, I’m starting to formulate a plan for the landscaping in the front.  I know yard work is hard and there is too much to tackle this year (along with everything we want to tackle inside the house), so we’re going to focus on the front and the vegetable/herb/flower garden mostly this year.  I would like to get a hydrangea hedge going as well, but the rest will have to wait until next year.  One step at a time.

This will be our first spring and full summer in this house, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing what pops up and also what grows.  We have a couple of cherry trees and an apple tree that I’m excited about.  I don’t know if the cherries are ornamental or edible, though.  I’ll have to do some research, so I don’t make any poison pies!

I’m a novice gardener, so I still have a massive amount to learn, but the best way to learn is to start digging…

training rosemary topiaries & other garden things

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26 Comments on “training rosemary topiaries & other garden things”

  1. wandering jew plants spread like crazy and grow fast just an fyi. I love the purple hues of them but i would keep it planted in a pot vs. outside.

    1. makes wonderful hanging baskets, here in the south, one pot will eventually make lots of hanging baskets.

  2. I love your dwarf version of Wandering Jews. My mom used to have the large leafed version back in the 70’s. They had beautiful purple and green leaves and grow like mad. If you want to propagate more just grab up some of the larger stems when you give your plants their next haircut and put them in water. Once they get good strong roots put them in a pot and watch them grow. I am gonna check our South Carolina Home Depot to see if we have any dwarf Wandering Jews. The new home we are building has great south facing front windows and these would look great on a pedistal. Thanks for the lead on these great plants.

  3. Found this info when I was looking for Wandering Jews online:
    Years ago, before raising plants for profit became a business, every housewife knew how to grow wandering jew houseplants. Gardeners would share cuttings from their wandering jew houseplant (Tradescantia pallid) with neighbors and friends, and like the Jews from long ago, the wandering jew houseplant would travel from place to place.
    Maybe how they got their name?

  4. My mom always had Wandering Jews, I’d forgotten all about that. I didn’t inherit her green thumb unfortunately. Hope your snow completely melts soon so you can get outside and get your hands dirty. The indoor pots add a lot to the character of your house (they say Miss Mustard Seed!).

  5. It is so funny to me- we’re in year two of living in our new house, and you’re saying all the things I’m saying! Granted, year one was unpacking and new baby, so all my plans have to be worked around naptime and a toddler. But still, it’s good to hear affirmation that both other people are thinking the same thing and that pacing myself is the right choice. But someday I will renovate that pantry!!!

  6. Rosemary only survives winter indoors in full blazing light! So if yours are doing well, you’ve got the perfect conditions! Keep them as close to the windows as possible. They should thrive for a number of years, but likely eventually will bite the dust for no apparent reason. That’s the way rosemary is. Sometimes you might get some powdery mildew on the leaves in the winter. You can put them outside for the summer months, but you might need to change the soil before bringing them back in, as insects like to burrow into the root zone and can sometimes hatch out and eat up the roots when brought back indoors for the winter.

  7. If you are concerned about the plant by the stairs getting enough light, why don’t you alternate its placement with the plant on the scale that gets more light? You could switch them out every week or so. Also, if you are wanting hydrangeas, please make sure you purchase plants suitable for your hardiness zone, which I believe is 4a. There are varieties available, just make sure you get the right ones. Many hydrangeas will not thrive past zone 5 (the lower the zone number, generally the colder the temperature.) Good luck with your plants, inside and out! Gardening fulfills the soul in a way nothing else can.

  8. Marion, blood meal works great to keep deer away outside. You wouldn’t want to put it on your veggies, but it will protect your flowers and fertilize them as well. Just pour it on and water it in. It works for about a month, then you should reapply. We have a herd of 22 on our land in Nebraska, and they do not eat our flowers!

  9. Can I ask you to source your moss in your pots. Looks so lovely….but then everything you do is lovely ❤️

  10. Where did you buy the flower pots? Love the marble! My grandmother had wandering Jews outside. They spread like crazy. Maybe that’s how they hit their name?

  11. I was taught when I was a girl it was named Wandering Jew – because it is a strong creeper, and because the purple striped ones look like homespun robes cloth often worn by olde world Jewish. (Think Moses.)

    Anyway, whatever the name or reason – your attention to your plants is noteworthy,

    I was a complete fool and let a very old very very perfect boxwood topiary die a few years ago. I am still grieving – I put it outside to get some air and light, then was called away and when I came back it was not the same – deer, too much heat and sun, drought – I murdered it and am still mad at myself. It was so cute.

  12. Rosemary is easy to grow; it’s a Meditterean plant, hence, full sun, very well-drianed soil and very little water. As for the topiary if your stake them perpendicular to the soil–straight up–they will grow that way and eventually your can remove the stake, when the trunk is thick enough. They will look much more elegant that way. Cheers!

  13. A recipe for deer repellent is as follows: 2 eggs, garlic powder, cayenne pepper. Mix well. Add water. Put in half gallon container and let it sour for at least 2 to 3 days. Put around plants with a turkey baster. Smells terrible at first but will dissipate quickly. Put this around plants several times the first week. Then weekly after that. Then monthly is ok as the soil begins to take on the garlic smell when it is turned over. This recipe is much cheaper than Deer Off.

  14. Marion, Re the Rosemary. Do stake them as recommended but also trim the foliage down by about 2/3 to get the ball thickening! You can do it!

  15. Hydrangea(s) are my favorite flowers. Unfortunately here in Southern Oregon they are favorite “salad” for our local deer (black tail and white tail). Ugh. Just an FYI while you consider a hydrangea hedgerow.
    I’m going to look for that strain of Wandering Jew .., love how it looks!

  16. In San Antonio (south Texas), where I lived for 25 years, rosemary is frequently used as a landscaping plant — hot, hot weather (we once had 100 degrees in February) and lots and lots of sunshine. I’ve never had any luck growing it indoors, because of its extreme heat and light requirements. Good luck.

  17. Another wonderful houseplant from the seventies was the Swedish Ivy plant. It was full shinny and abundant. Likes light but not extreme sun and is easy to propagate. My sister gave me a potted Rosemary plant and I was determined not to kill it. Well it is growing sideways and propped up by a bowl on my windowsill and is very happy.

  18. My friend moved to NC and has deer all the time. Talk to an Herbologist they can tell you what’s good in your area and what the deer will Not eat

  19. What we have found to work best around our garden (sits right on the edge of a woods away from any homes) is Irish springs soap. We take a bar of it put it on a stick and put it around the garden every 4-5 feet. Have never had a problem with any critter eating our garden!

  20. Did you whitewash/paint the lovely pots your rosemary is in? If so, would you please share your technique? Thx!

  21. There are many varieties of hydrangea that do well in Minnesota. Endless Summer and Limelight are two of my favorite newer types with really striking blooms. Limelight comes in a dwarf form as well that only reaches 4 feet. There is the standard Annabelle hydrangea that has been planted here forever; I have some that are well over 40 years old and still perform. Minnesota doesn’t seem to have the type that change colors in acidic/basic soil (these are more common in Zones 5-6 on the east coast.)

    Deer are a huge problem. Not much will deter them in my area, so I’ve learned to plant things they hate, ie stinky and/or sticky plants. They stay away from daffodils, narcissus, hellebores, marigolds…I buy my vegetables at the Farmer’s Market now after watching them effortlessly leap my 5 foot garden fence to munch berries and greens. Best of luck enjoying spring in Minnesota!

  22. Good luck Marian!
    I’m calling this the year of the shrub at our because I’m on a mission t start taking control. My husband dug out the diseased boxwood hedges 2 years ago and the foundation of a cottage garden is taking shape. Now we need to tackle the holly trees that were planted against the foundation and all of the overgrown shrubs that are withering in the heat coming off the brick walls of the house. None of this is fun, but I miss having an established garden and we’ve both been so busy since buying this house.
    I look forward to seeing your garden designs. If you were closer to GA, I’d offer you cuttings from my hydrangea. The people who built our house planted it from a cutting 48 years ago that they brought up from the lady’s mother’s garden in south GA. It’s enormous and I have several branches rooted on the ground this year.
    I honestly have no idea how you accomplish so much, but you are surely inspiring! I’m using your posts as a reminder to get more focused this year.

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