Thyme and Rosemary in the Tropics
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Wendy Lechner
Posted on: August 11, 2005

I live in the Caribbean and am having difficulty growing thyme and rosemary. The thyme just gradually dried up from the lower stems to the tips. I had one plant growing in a sunny garden that gets regular water from a sprinkler. I had another small plant in a small pot in a relatively shady place. The leaves of the rosemary are drying up from the top tips. It did well in a semi-sunny spot for about two months, but now it’s struggling. I’ve moved it to a more shady spot, but it’s not looking much better -- just holding its own.

Also, do you have any resources for successfully growing herbs in the tropics? Only basil seems to grow in wild profusion here.

These two herbs cannot take the heat of the tropics. They simply do not have the root system to keep up with the cooling by transpiration required to get them to the maximum temperature they can take. You may have noticed that rosemary is rated as being able to take up to zone 10, but the tropics are zone 11. Thyme can only take it to zone 9 and is even dying in our unprecedentedly hot greenhouses this summer (2005). Try broadleaf thyme instead of ordinary thyme and keep your rosemary in an airconditioned home during the summer. Check the zone ratings in our catalogue and pick only plants for the out of doors that are rated to zone 11.

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