- Quick Guide to Growing Rosemary
- Soil, Planting, and Care
- Salvia rosmarinus (formerly Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Why the Name Change?
- What Is Rosemary?
- Cultivation and History
- How to Grow
- Growing Tips
- Containers and Growing Indoors
- Cultivars to Select
- Managing Pests and Disease
- Recipes and Cooking Ideas
- Best Garden Uses
- Quick Reference Growing Guide
- Flavor, Fragrance, and So Much More
- How to grow rosemary
- Growing rosemary through the year
- Rosemary varieties to grow
- Benefits of Growing Rosemary Plants from Stem Cuttings
- How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings
- How to Care for Rosemary Plants
- Growing Rosemary Plants: Rosemary Plant Care
- Evergreen Rosemary Plant Care
- Trimming Rosemary
- Evergreen Rosemary Propagation
- Get to Know Rosemary
- How to Plant Rosemary
- How to Grow Rosemary
- Troubleshooting Rosemary
- How to Harvest Rosemary
- Rosemary in the Kitchen
- Preserving and Storing Rosemary
- Propagating Rosemary
- Rosemary Varieties to Grow
- Growing Rosemary in your Home Garden
- Growing Perennial Herbs In Your Garden
- History of Rosemary
- Rosemary Seeds or Plants
- Cultivation of Rosemary
- Rosemary Growing Tips
- Pest and Problems for Rosemary
- Harvesting Rosemary
- How to Save a Dying Rosemary Tree
Quick Guide to Growing Rosemary
- Plant rosemary in spring once all chances of frost have passed. This delightful herb is an all-star in the kitchen and is a great option for raised garden beds, containers, and in-ground gardens.
- Space rosemary plants 2 to 3 feet apart in an area with abundant sunlight and rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
- Before planting, set your garden up for success by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil. For container growing, consider a premium bagged potting mix.
- Promote spectacular growth by feeding rosemary regularly with a water-soluble plant food.
- It’s important to water regularly but be sure to let the soil dry out between waterings.
- Harvest rosemary stems by snipping them with sharp gardening shears. Harvest often once the plant is established, but avoid pruning more than one-third of the plant at a time.
Soil, Planting, and Care
Set out rosemary in spring, planting starter plants 2 to 3 feet apart; you can also plant in fall in zone 8 and south. Choose strong, vigorous Bonnie Plants® rosemary to get your garden off to a great start—after all, Bonnie has spent over a century helping home gardeners successfully grow their own food. Plants are slow growing at first, but pick up speed in their second year.
Rosemary prefers full sun and light, well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Improve your existing soil by adding a few inches of aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil and mixing it in with the top layer. Potted rosemary needs a lighter-weight soil mix, so fill containers with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Container Mix instead. Keep the soil uniformly moist, allowing it to dry out between waterings. Mulch your plants to keep roots moist in summer and insulated in winter, but take care to keep mulch away from the crown of the plant. In the spring, prune dead wood out of the plants.
For best growth, it’s not enough just to start with rich, nutritious soil. You’ll also want to feed rosemary regularly throughout the season with a plant food that feeds both your plants and the soil, like Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition (following the directions on the label).
Oh yes siree, rosemary is wonderful! It’s a woody perennial evergreen herb that’s commonly sold as a shrub and is a member of the mint family. This is such an attractive plant to have in the garden and comes in a few forms, many sizes and is versatile and easy. Here’s what you should know about growing rosemary.
The Rosemary “Tuscan Blue” was 1 of the anchor plants in my front garden in Santa Barbara – it grew to 6′ tall by 9′ wide. Now that’s 1 big herb! I moved to Arizona a couple of months ago and just had to do a video and post on this ginormous plant before I left. It’s 1 of the largest rosemarys that I’ve ever seen so how could I not?
The forms that it comes in are upright, ground cover or trailing and a combo of the 2. The most commonly sold upright rosemarys are Tuscan Blue (which is mine), Tuscan Spires, Golden Rain (I also have this 1) and Miss Jessup. A few of the trailers include Irene, Huntington Blue and Prostratus (which is the commonly sold trailing rosemary). The crosses, which have growth habits of both upright and trailing which some refer to as “semi trailing”, are Collingwood Ingram, Ken Taylor and Boule.
Rosemary, like Aloe vera, is a plant with purpose. Its pungently scented foliage, which is like a wake up call when inhaled, has many uses. It’s beneficial both internally and externally and is frequently enjoyed in the culinary trade – professional and home chefs use it in many ways. The 2 favored for taste are “Tuscan Blue” and “Tuscan Spires”. I prefer to use the tender new growth for cooking.
This is Rosmarinus officinalis “Ken Taylor” – it both grows upright & trails.
Here’s what you need to know about growing rosemary:
Exposure: Rosemary does best in full sun. It can take morning shade but needs that midday & afternoon sun to look its best. It also requires good air circulation.
Cold Hardiness: Rosemary will show damage if the temps dip below 20 degrees F. You can always bring your plant in for the winter months – see more on growing rosemary indoors further on down.
Water: It needs regular waterings to get established. After then, infrequent & deep waterings (every 2-4 weeks depending on your climate) are fine. Good to know: be careful not to over water your rosemary because this plant is subject to root rot.
Soil: Make sure the soil drains really well. What you add to amend drainage (if you need to) varies depending on your soil type. I added loam to my gardens. In a pot, succulent & cactus mix would be fine as well as potting soil; the latter you’d need to water less often. Rosemary isn’t particularly fussy as to soil type but I will say that it prefers a soil more on the alkaline side rather than acidic.
You can see my ginormous rosemary on the right – it grows behind & around my succulents.
Fertilizer: Rosemary doesn’t require much if any at all. I’ve never fertilized but have composted them, every 1-3 years. If your rosemary is looking a bit yellow & pale, you could feed it once in spring with something like this.
Propagation: Propagating rosemary is easy. I take cuttings about 5-8″ long (not the tender new growth at the ends but not the old woody growth either), strip off the lower leaves & put them in water. Make sure 2 or 3 of the bottom nodes are in the water because that’s where the roots come out of. When they put out substantial root growth, I plant them into that loose mix.
Pruning: I would give this rosemary a really good pruning every spring after flowering. Because it grows so big, I needed to saw out whole branches to give it a better shape. Also, as those big branches grew, they would get heavy. I removed branches that were crossing over. Throughout the year I’d give it a light pruning to keep it in check. Depending on the size & shape of yours, you may only need to prune it when harvesting those fragrant tips.
Pests: I’ve never seen it with any except for a little spittlebug in the San Francisco Bay Area which I just hosed off. I’ve read that it’s also susceptible to spider mites, mealy bugs & scale.
Flowers: Oh yes it does! My “Tuscan Blue” has beautiful blue flowers which are abundant in the winter & spring. Then, it would bloom off & on but not as heavy. The bees love the flowers! Rosemary flowers are usually blue but different varieties can have white, pink & lavender/purple blooms. Good to know: in order to get your rosemary to flower, it needs full sun.
The flowers of Rosmarinus officinalis “Tuscan Blue” – lovely to look at & a magnet for bees.
Uses: Rosemary has so many uses in the landscape. It does great in containers & is very suitable to prune into topiary forms. Rosemary grows along the coast, in rock gardens, on banks as a ground cover, trailing over walls, as a hedge & of course in herb gardens. Good to know: rosemary is deer resistant.
Indoors: Simply put, growing rosemary indoors can be a bit of a crapshoot. You want to make sure it has as much natural light as possible – high light. And, be sure not to overwater it & be certain that all the water thoroughly drains out of the pot (make sure that there is a drain hole(s) & that it is not clogged. In the cooler, darker months, you’ll want to water it even less. Take it outside in the summer months if you can because it’ll love the sun & heat.
To sum it all up, here are the 3 most important things that you need to know to grow rosemary: it needs full sun, well-drained soil & not to be over-watered.
I did a video many moons ago about how I used that rosemary which you might find interesting. Rosemary is a plant I absolutely love and it tickles my fancy that there’s some growing right outside my patio wall. Time to go out and pick a bunch of it right now to bring into the house. Ahhhh …. that fragrance is like none other!
This is Rosmarinus officinalis “prostratus” (or trailing rosemary) grows alongside the wash behind my house in Tucson, AZ. It gets no supplemental water & the summer temps have consistently been 100 degrees F plus. It doesn’t look too worse for wear!
Salvia rosmarinus (formerly Rosmarinus officinalis)
It’s official. Rosemary has been stripped of its own genus.
As of 2017, thanks to botanical DNA testing, its taxonomy has changed – but not much else.
It’s still the same beloved, fragrant herb with a bittersweet, piney flavor. It still makes an outstanding, aromatic ornamental. And its striking form and pretty flowers are just as easy to grow and maintain as before.
The family tree has been shaken up a bit, along with a few other close relatives. No longer a stand-alone, this trans-genera herb is now known as Salvia rosmarinus.
But regardless of what it’s officially called, rosemary is still one of the most rewarding plants to grow in the garden.
So, join us now for a closer look at how to grow and care for this classic garden herb!
Why the Name Change?
Since 1753 when Carl Linnaeus published “Species Plantarum” up until 2017, rosemary had the Latin name Rosmarinus officinalis, and belonged to its very own genus.
Photo by Lorna Kring
But in a phylogenetic study published in 2017, Bryan T. Drew and coauthors found that the herbal favorite has several closely related cousins – all of them in the salvia family. Phylogenetics is the study of the evolution and diversification of a species.
DNA sequencing revealed that the genera Salvia, Rosmarinus, Dorystaechas, Meriandra, Perovskia, and Zhumeria were all equally related. And the authors urged embedding these small species into a single broad genus of Salvia.
In November 2019, the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) tweeted: “We’re adopting a change in the scientific name for rosemary after research has shown that is in fact a salvia.”
This name change appears in the later editions of the RHS Plant Finder – known as the premier guide to cultivated UK garden plants. And nurseries will be relabeling plant stock from 2020 on.
The old genus Rosmarinus is gone, and R. officinalis is now listed as a synonym for S. rosmarinus. In botanical terms, a synonym refers to a superseded name.
However, because the salvia genus already had an “officinalis” (S. officinalis is common or kitchen sage), rosemary couldn’t have the same tag. But the name change doesn’t alter any of its purported healing or medicinal properties – even if it’s no longer officially an officinalis!
And the good news is, the common name, rosemary, remains unchanged.
What Is Rosemary?
S. rosmarinus is an aromatic perennial in the Lamiaceae family, a multi-branched woody herb native to the rocky sea cliffs of the Mediterranean basin. Depending on the species, growth can be clumping, creeping, or upright.
Photo by Lorna Kring
An evergreen, its leaves are narrow and lance-shaped with slightly rolled margins and measure about an inch long.
Slow growing in its first year or two, it reaches a height of 4-6 feet tall with a spread of 6-8 feet at maturity, depending on the variety.
Whorls of tiny blue, white, pink, or mauve flowers appear in late winter through to late spring, covering stems in a striking early-season display. Plants often give a second, lighter flush of blooms that begin in late summer and can last through fall and winter.
Historically, plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 9, but new cold-hardy cultivars can grow reliably in regions as cool as Zone 6.
Cultivation and History
The name rosmarinus comes from the Latin ros marinum which means “dew of the sea” – aptly named for its easy growth in the seaside cliffs and rocky slopes of its original habitats.
Photo by Lorna Kring
Steeped in myth and tradition, this beloved herb has been used throughout antiquity in both savory and sweet foods. And its aromatic essential oils were used by ancient cultures such as the Greeks and Egyptians to make perfumes and sweet-smelling incense.
In ancient Greece, it was thought to improve memory and to uplift the spirits. And some Greek students today still burn rosemary the night before exams to help with recall.
According to legend, rosemary’s volatile oils were first distilled in Arabia. Knowledge of distilling was brought to Spain at the start of the 14th century by a Muslim physician, and its essential oils were quickly embraced by apothecarists of the day.
The plant and oil were used to soothe a variety of complaints from anxiety to skin problems, and in 17th century London, it was burned indoors to ward off the plague.
With an intense, cleansing fragrance, its essential oils are still popular today in aromatherapy, perfumes, lotions, and toiletries. Dried needles and flowers are favored in linen sachets and potpourri.
The main constituents of its essential oils, 1,8-cineole, camphor, and a-pinene, have numerous therapeutic applications and are often found in natural dental health products, such as mouthwash and toothpaste.
Some studies have shown that 1,8-cineole can have therapeutic benefits for those suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD.
And its abundant flowers provide an important food source for early pollinators and cold weather hummingbirds.
Propagation is most easily achieved from seeds or stem cuttings.
Seeds are notoriously slow to germinate and have only a 50 percent success rate. Plus, they can take up to 3 months to sprout if conditions aren’t ideal – always remember to plant at least twice as many seeds as you want plants.
Photo by Lorna Kring
Collect seeds in summer after the pods have dried but before they split and the seeds disperse. Or purchase seeds online (see our recommendations below) or from your favorite garden center.
In mid- to late winter, sow seeds indoors in trays of sterilized starting mix, barely covering the seeds with soil.
Keep the soil moist and provide bottom heat to ensure the optimal soil temperature of 80-90°F is maintained.Heat mats can be purchased online from Grower’s House.
Hydrofarm Heat Mat
This thick and durable mat from Hydrofarm warms the soil 10-20°F above ambient temperatures – crucial for these fussy seeds to sprout. This particular model is the only heat mat with UL (and CE) certification.
Once they’ve germinated, seedlings are at high risk of damping off, so regulate watering carefully – maintain moisture but don’t let the soil become waterlogged. Use a spray bottle to mist seedlings when the top of the soil dries out.
Provide bright light for 6-8 hours a day and ensure plants have free-flowing air circulation.
Wait until seedlings are well established, about 3 to 4 inches tall, before transplanting to individual containers.
Keep plants in containers for their first winter, protected from cold weather, and plant out the following spring after the danger of frost has passed.
From Stem Cuttings
After they have finished flowering, collect 6- to 8-inch stem cuttings from old wood (they’ll have new growth at the tips).
Photo by Lorna Kring
Remove leaves from the lower half and dip the cut ends in a powdered rooting hormone.
Plant 3 or 4 stems in 6-inch pots filled with well-draining garden soil.
Water well and set in a sheltered spot outdoors that gets morning sun.
Provide moderate moisture and allow pots to remain in place until the next spring, then plant out into the garden or larger containers.
How to Grow
S. rosmarinus requires a full-sun exposure in a well-drained location, with soil of average fertility and a neutral or slightly alkaline composition of pH 6.0-7.8.
Photo by Lorna Kring
Create planting sites as deep as the root ball and twice as wide.
Amend the soil with 1/3 organic matter such as compost or aged manure and 1/3 coarse sand or fine grit to improve drainage.
Set seedlings in place and backfill, gently firming the soil over the roots.
Water in well to settle. Provide moderate moisture throughout the growing season, watering only when the top inch of soil is dry.
A top dressing of organic material or an application of an all-purpose fertilizer (NPK 10-10-10) in the spring is all that’s needed to supply enough nutrients.
To keep plants compact, prune them after flowering, in late spring to midsummer, by removing up to 1/3 of their overall growth.
Avoid pruning in late autumn or winter, as this tender perennial needs time to harden off if it’s to survive freezing temperatures in winter.
Apply a thick, 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch over the roots in cold regions to prevent freezing. Learn more about protecting rosemary in winter here.
- Propagation is easiest from stem cuttings.
- Needs excellent drainage to prevent root rot. Amend soil with sand or grit to improve drainage.
- Prefers soil of average fertility – a single feeding in spring is adequate for its needs.
- Does best in full sun.
- Requires only moderate watering.
- Pick stem tips in the afternoon for best flavor and fragrance.
Containers and Growing Indoors
With minimal care, this bushy herb will grow with abandon once established – often growing 12-16 inches in one summer.
Photo by Lorna Kring
But in containers, plants can quickly become rootbound and lose their vigor – resulting in slow and stunted growth. To ensure the most tender, flavorful leaves for your kitchen garden, replace container plants every 2-3 years with fresh ones.
Ensure containers and soil have excellent drainage and water moderately, or when the top inch of soil is dry, but avoid letting soil dry out completely.
In spring, apply a top dressing of compost or feed with an all-purpose, 10-10-10 fertilizer.
If your containers need to come indoors for winter, place them in a cool room with a south facing window – they need a minimum of 6-8 hours of bright light daily.
Ensure plants have flowing air circulation to reduce humidity and prevent powdery mildew. If you need to, use a fan on the lowest setting for a couple hours a day.
Cultivars to Select
With its fragrance, profusion of tiny flowers, full shape, and robust growth, rosemary’s many cultivars make useful and handsome ornamentals as well as supplying the kitchen.
There are two main varieties, upright and creeping, both of which are highly fragrant. Uprights are better suited for hedges, topiary, and specimen plants, while the creepers are good for ground covers, spilling over walls, or to add stability to slopes.
Dwarf cultivars have a mounded habit and are ideal for borders, containers, or rockeries. And they’re a good choice to train and trim as bonsai or into topiary.
For folks who have the patience to grow rosemary from seed, True Leaf Market offers two sizes of seed packets. Remember to plant at least twice as many seeds as the number of plants you want for best results.
‘Prostratus’ is a creeping variety that adds draping beauty to containers and rockeries, or flowing over low walls.
Plants are available in 3-packs from Burpee.
‘Chef’s Choice’ is a compact, mounded variety that is hardy in Zones 7-10. With a mature height of only 12 to 18 inches, it’s perfect for the kitchen garden.
Plants are available online from Home Depot.
For a traditional, upright plant, the popular ‘Tuscan Blue’ offers dense, multi-branched growth up to 6 feet tall. Ideal for hedges or as a specimen, it’s hardy to Zone 8.
Sets of three plants are available from Burpee.
For outstanding cold hardiness, ‘Arp’ is the variety of choice. Hardy in Zones 6-10, it grows up to 5 feet tall in an erect, dense form.
Sets of three plants can be purchased from Burpee.
Managing Pests and Disease
Rosemary is relatively pest and disease free, although there are a few problems to watch for.
Root rot is the most common problem, because these plants can’t abide having their roots in wet or soggy conditions. Add coarse sand or grit to the soil to ensure water drains freely.
Powdery mildew can attack in crowded or damp conditions and is particularly apt to appear on indoor potted plants. Remove any infected stems and dispose of them in the garbage. Avoid overwatering and ensure plants are well-spaced with proper air circulation.
Aphids and spittle bugs are the most common pests. These insects can be quickly dispatched with a strong blast of water from the garden hose.
This garden stalwart also makes an excellent companion plant, as few pests find its intense flavor and fragrance palatable.
Beans, carrots, and cruciferous veggies benefit from having rosemary nearby as its intense volatile oils repel cabbage moths (loopers), carrot rust flies, and Mexican bean beetles. Slugs and snails are also deterred from snacking on leafy greens with rosemary growing close by.
It attracts pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and is resistant to wildlife like deer and rabbits.
Like most herbs, rosemary’s flavor peaks just before flowering – but leaves can be harvested year-round.
For the best flavor, pick stems in the morning after the dew dries and before the afternoon heat sets in.
Choose tender tips, and with sharp garden pruners, cut stems 6 to 8 inches long.
Photo by Lorna Kring
Use fresh from the garden, or store in the refrigerator in a small glass of water for up to 10 days.
To remove leaves from the stems, hold the tip of one firmly with one hand. Grip the stem an inch below the tip with the thumb and forefinger of your free hand, and firmly pull your fingers down the stem, removing the leaves in one swift motion.
Drying and freezing are the best methods of preserving rosemary.
To air dry, hang single stems or small bundles in a warm, dry area out of direct sunlight. Or dry the stems in a single layer in your food dehydrator set to the lowest setting, or 95°F. This can take up to 8-10 hours, depending on the ambient humidity.
Once dry, remove leaves and store in tightly sealed containers in a cool, dark cupboard. They should stay fresh for a year or more.
Use leaves whole or grind with a mortar and pestle prior to use.
Leaves can also be frozen in ice cube trays half-filled with olive oil or water. Or simply roll up washed and dried stems in freezer bags, squeezing out excess air from the top before sealing, and pop them in the freezer.
Recipes and Cooking Ideas
This classic herb has long been used to season meats such as lamb, pork, veal, and in stews, and it’s a natural with poultry and fish as well.
Photo by Lorna Kring
Rosemary’s delicious pinewood flavors are also liberally used in breads, compound butters, dressings, jam, stuffing, vegetable dishes, and vinaigrettes. And it’s one of the essential ingredients in the popular blend, Herbes de Provence.
The leaves, or needles, give their best flavor when used fresh, but dried and frozen are good options for cooking as well.
Add a chunk of dried wood or fresh green stems to the barbecue for a sweetly savory addition to grilled foods.
You can read more about how to use this fascinating and healthful herb .
Photo by Felicia Lim
For a feast of garden-fresh carrots, this recipe for roasted carrots from Foodal is a must-make!
Or maybe you prefer something sweet? Try some rosemary butter cookies for a sweet’n’savory taste sensation, also on Foodal.
Best Garden Uses
Rosemary is well-suited for multiple settings. It works well as a companion in veggie patches, in containers, as ground cover, in kitchen and perennial beds, on stabilizing slopes, and spilling from window boxes.
Use prostrate varieties for creeping, spilling, and sprawling and uprights as stand-alones or specimen plants.
And dwarf or compact varieties give the best option for containers or bonsai.
The stems, with or without flowers, add long-lasting fragrance and evergreen beauty to cut flower arrangements and winter vases as well as door swags and wreaths.
Quick Reference Growing Guide
|Plant Type:||Evergreen subshrub||Tolerance:||Drought, heat, salt spray, wind|
|Native To:||Mediterranean basin||Water Needs:||Moderate|
|Hardiness (USDA Zone):||Zone 9; some cultivars to Zone 6||Maintenance:||Low|
|Exposure:||Full sun||Soil pH:||Neutral to slightly alkaline, pH 6-7.8|
|Time to Maturity:||6-12 months||Soil Drainage:||Excellent|
|Spacing:||24-36 inches||Companion Planting:||Beans, cabbage, carrots, sage|
|Planting Depth:||As deep as root ball||Family:||Lamiaceae|
|Spread:||6-8 feet||Species:||S. rosmarinus|
|Pests & Diseases:||Aphids, spittlebugs, powdery mildew, root rot|
Flavor, Fragrance, and So Much More
With fantastic flavor, superb fragrance, and versatile in the garden and home, you’ll love rosemary’s full-bodied performance and its easy-care requirements.
Remember that it requires full sunlight and excellent drainage. Prune it a bit after flowering, and after that, this easy plant practically looks after itself!
If you’re new to growing this classic kitchen herb, make it easy and purchase plants. Wait to try starting from seeds until you have established plants to take cuttings from.
Do you folks have any favorite tips for growing this herb in the garden? Drop us a line in the comments below.
And if you enjoyed learning about growing this evergreen herb, you might enjoy these growing guides as well:
- How to Grow Winter Savory
- How to Grow and Use Lemon Balm
- How to Grow Bee Balm: Bring Out the Hummingbirds!
Photos by Lorna Kring and Felicia Lim © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 12, 2017. Last updated: January 10, 2020 at 12:04 pm. Product photos via Burpee, Grower’s House, Home Depot, and True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: .
The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.
About Lorna Kring
A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!
Joseph Masabni and Stephen King Assistant Professor and Extension Horticulturist, and former Associate Professor, Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences; The Texas A&M University System
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is relatively easy to grow, making it a good choice for any home herb garden. Its pungent flavor and pinelike scent make rosemary a popular ingredient in foods. The upright varieties are best for both fresh and dried use.
Rosemary can be grown as an annual (completes its life cycle in 1 year) or a perennial (completes its life cycle in 3 or more years). In herb gardens, it is often planted along with thyme, oregano, sage, and lavender. When planting, choose a variety that is suitable to the climate, soil, and desired use.
These varieties are best for Texas:
- Blue Boy
- Dancing Waters
- Golden Rai
- Pine Scented
- Spice Islands
- White Pine
Scented rosemary is best for cooking because of its excellent flavor and soft leaves. Blue Boy, Spice Islands, and White rosemary are also used in cooking. Arp, Dancing Waters, Golden Rain, Pink, and White varieties are more often used as landscape plants.
Rosemary can be grown in pots or in an herb garden (Fig. 1). Most varieties grow best in well-drained, loamy, slightly acidic soil. The preferred soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.0.
Rosemary should receive at least 6 hours of sun each day; it grows best in full sun. If you plan to use rosemary as a perennial plant, choose a site that will not be disturbed by tilling.
Figure 1. Rosemary can be raised in a pot or in a garden.
Follow these steps to prepare the soil:
- Remove all rocks, shrubs, weeds plant debris, and tree roots from the area to be planted.
- Collect a soil sample and have it analyzed to determine your soil’s fertility level. For information about the Texas A&M Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory, visit http://soiltesting. tamu.edu/. 3. If needed, fertilize according to the soil test results to supplement the nutrition added from compost or organic matter. If the pH is too low, add lime to make the soil more alkaline.
- Add about 4 inches of organic matter or compost to the surface and incorporate it with a pitch fork or a rototiller to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Raised or slightly mounded beds provide the best drainage for the herb.
Like most herbs, rosemary is fairly drought resistant and, if healthy enough, can tolerate a light freeze. It is most successful when grown from cuttings or transplants. Although seed is readily available and usually inexpensive, its germination rate is usually only about 15 percent.
The best way to propagate rosemary is by taking a cutting from an already vigorous plant:
- Clip a 3-inch branch from the stem of the plant.
- Trim off most of the lower leaves to 1½ inches up the stem.
- Plant one or two cuttings into a 3-inch pot.
- Water the cuttings.
- Place the pot in a windowsill with indirect sunlight and temperatures between 60° and 70°F.
- After about 8 weeks, the cuttings will be rooted and ready for transplanting to their permanent location.
Rosemary seldom needs fertilizer. But if growth is slow or the plant appears stunted or pale yellow, apply fertilizer once in early spring before new growth appears. Any allpurpose fertilizer in dry or liquid form is suitable as long as it is applied correctly. To prevent leaf burning, avoid applying fertilizer directly onto the plant.
Too much water can cause root rot. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine when a rosemary plant needs water because its needles do not wilt as broad leaves do. On average, water rosemary every 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the plant size and climate conditions. Allow the plants to dry out thoroughly between each watering.
Although rosemary resists most diseases, some cases of powdery mildew have been reported. To prevent the disease from spreading, check the plants regularly and apply the proper fungicides when needed.
You can reduce the incidence of diseases by pruning overgrown plants to improve air circulation within the plants. Pruning also stimulates them to produce new shoots.
Rosemary is fairly resistant to pests. If spider mites, mealy bugs, or scales do appear, any organic or inorganic insecticide may be used.
If the plant has scales, an easy solution is to clip off and discard the infested plant tips; scales are sedentary insects. For mealy bugs, spray the plants with water, pyrethrum soap, or a soap-based insecticide.
Insects that suck plant sap are generally more prevalent in areas where too much nitrogen fertilizer has been applied. You can avoid most insect problems by fertilizing properly.
Once the plant grows to a suitable size, you can pick several small branches without harming it. Nursery plants can be harvested sooner than cuttings or seeds (Table 1).
TABLE 1. Usual span from planting to harvesting rosemary.
Rosemary plants can be harvested several times in a season, but they should be allowed to replace their growth between harvests. Some varieties are valued for their small flowers, which are harvested for use in salads.
The clippings can be used fresh or dried for later use (Fig. 2). Fresh cuttings will retain their best flavor for 2 to 7 days in the refrigerator. To store rosemary for longer periods, hang it in bundles to dry.
Figure 2. Fresh-cut rosemary will retain its best flavor for 2 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
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How to grow rosemary
An evergreen herb that looks lovely all year round, rosemary smells wonderful, has a great taste, and when it flowers in late spring bees love it, too. Grow one alongside a path, so every time you brush past the leaves release their aromatic oils. What more could you ask?
More advice on growing rosemary:
- How to take rosemary cuttings
- Rosemary and pansy pot display
- Dealing with rosemary beetle
- Culinary herbs to grow
Although rosemary is frost-hardy, the combination of cold and waterlogging can kill immature plants.
Growing rosemary through the year
How to plant rosemary
Rosemary seeds can take an age to germinate, so buy young plants, which are widely available, or wait until after flowering and take cuttings.
Plant in spring or autumn. Although rosemary is frost-hardy, the combination of cold and waterlogging can kill immature plants. With this in mind, choose a well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered spot. If you have a cold clay soil, dig in lots of bark, grit or leaf mould to improve drainage.
Growing rosemary in pots
Looking after rosemary plants
Rosemary requires little maintenance during the year except cutting back after flowering to prevent plants becoming straggly and excessively woody. Save the trimmings to propagate new plants or to dry for cooking.
Rosemary does well in containers in a soil-based compost with plenty of broken crocks in the bottom for good drainage. Keep well watered during dry spells and feed with a general fertiliser during the growing season. In cold winters, bring plants under cover for protection.
Watch Monty Don’s video guide to replacing tired rosemary plants:
Harvesting rosemary needles
Gently pull small sprigs away from the main stem. Unless you’re using them to flavour gravy or perk up a roast, strip the leaves off the inedible woody stems.
As rosemary is an evergreen, it’s available fresh all year. It dries well (on a baking tray in the airing cupboard) but doesn’t freeze.
Infusing rosemary in oil
Preparation and uses of rosemary
Pop a few sprigs of rosemary in with your roast potatoes and meat, it goes especially well with lamb, or in casseroles, tomato sauces, baked fish or egg dishes.
Add it to vinegars or oils for extra flavour. Take care when using fresh rosemary in your cooking, it’s a pungent herb that will overpower delicate flavours.
A native of southern Europe, the rosemary beetle and its larvae can quickly strip the foliage of a rosemary bush. These small metallic-green and purple-striped beetles can be found on the underside of leaves during early autumn to spring. Spread newspaper under an affected plant and tap the branches to dislodge pests. Wait until after flowering to apply an insecticide to avoid harming bees.
Plant a rosemary hedge
One of the best rosemary varieties for a hedge is ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’. Space the plants about 45cm apart. To promote bushy growth, cut back after flowering in early summer. Aim to keep the hedge around 60cm tall.
Rosemary varieties to grow
- ‘Benenden Blue’ – dark blue flowers and fine needles
- ‘Lady in White’ – its upright habit makes it useful as hedging
- ‘Majorca Pink’ – small pale pink flowers and upright habit
- ‘McConnell’s Blue’ – blue flowers, grows well in pots
- ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’ – blue flowers and upright stems
- Prostratus Group – pale blue flowers, arching, prostrate stems
- ‘Severn Sea’ – highly aromatic with medium-blue flowers
- ‘Sudbury Blue’ – highly scented foliage and blue flowers
Learn how to take rosemary cuttings from an established mother plant and grow new rosemary plants in containers that can be moved outside in summer and indoors in winter.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial herb in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and warmer where it can be planted in the garden and can grow 4 feet tall and spreads about 4 feet wide depending on the variety.
For those of us gardening in colder zones, growing rosemary in containers allows us to bring it in during the winter to keep it alive.
My rosemary plant is going on seven years old this year. It grows in a container spends the summer outside on the porch. The rosemary plant is brought inside when the weather turns cold in fall, and it overwinters on a south-facing windowsill.
By the time spring rolls around, the rosemary usually looks raggedy from reduced light and heat fluctuations. Sometimes so many needles dry up and drop off that I wonder if it can possibly survive.
Once warmer weather arrives, the rosemary plant is hardened off, and returned outside for summer. After only a few weeks, it begins to grow new shoots, and the branches fill in with thicker foliage. I am amazed every time it happens.
This is the perfect time to start a new batch of plants. These fresh, green stems are the ones you want to select for softwood stem cuttings.
Benefits of Growing Rosemary Plants from Stem Cuttings
Instead of purchasing a new rosemary plant every year or starting new plants from seeds, try growing your own from stem cuttings. Some of the benefits of growing rosemary from cuttings vs. starting from seeds include:
- Earlier Harvest: A rooted rosemary plant from a cutting will mature quicker than a plant started from seed. Rosemary seeds tend to have low germination rates and take a long time to sprout and grow. A rosemary stem cutting will reach a usable size in just a few months, so you will be able to harvest rosemary sooner.
- Same as the Mother Plant: The rosemary plant you will grow from cuttings will be an exact clone of the mother plant and have the same flavor, disease resistance, and growth.
- Extra Plants for Free: A single plant can provide numerous cuttings without risking the health of the plant. So you can line your kitchen windowsill with several plants that will smell wonderful when you brush your hand against them.
How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings
1. Select new shoots from the mother plant: Choose healthy stems with fresh growth. The younger shoots will have green stems that are flexible. Avoid older brown, woody stems.
2. Take cuttings: Use sharp scissors and snip the rosemary stem about 5 to 6-inches back from a fresh growing tip. Cut plenty of extra stems in case some fail to grow roots.
3. Strip the lower leaves: Grasp your fingers around the stem, and gently strip off the lower 2-inches of needles from the stem of the rosemary cutting.
4. Place cuttings in water: Stick the stems in a jar of water and place the jar in a warm place away from direct sunlight. Change the water every couple days, replacing with room temperature water. The fresh water provides dissolved oxygen and prevents the cuttings from rotting.
The rosemary stem cuttings should grow roots in a few weeks depending on the temperature. It can take longer in colder temperatures. After 4 to 8 weeks it should be apparent if the rosemary cuttings have survived. The cuttings that do not survive will be brown and shed needles. If your rosemary cutting is still alive, give it some more time.
5. Pot up the stem cuttings once roots develop: Use a sandy soil mix that drains well. Mix equal parts all-purpose potting soil and sharp sand. Or use cactus-potting soil.
Fill a 4-inch pot with slightly damp potting soil for each rosemary cutting. Use a pencil to make a 3 to 4-inch hole into the soil. Place the cutting in the hole with care to avoid damaging the roots. Cover gently and water thoroughly.
Place the newly potted rosemary plant in indirect light or in filtered sunlight until roots become established, and then move to direct light, at least 6 to 8 hours per day. Keep the potting soil moist until you see new growth.
Let the new plants to put on some growth before harvesting. Once the plant is 6-inches tall, harvest by cutting stems as needed. New growth will continue forming on the stem. Rosemary grows slowly so don’t harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at one time.
How to Care for Rosemary Plants
Rosemary is a rather robust plant once it is established and growing. Here are some tips to keep your plant healthy and producing:
- Grow in a sunny location. Rosemary thrives in 6-8 hours of direct sun in the summertime.
- Water when the soil feels dry. Once established, rosemary likes to stay on the dry side. Allow top inch of soil to dry out between watering, and then water thoroughly.
- Re-pot as the plant gets larger and the roots fill the container. A rosemary plant that grows in a container can reach 1 to 3 feet high. Just keep transplanting to a larger container when the roots fill the pot.
- Prune rosemary frequently. The more you trim, the bushier the plant grows. Prune the plant after it flowers to keep it compact.
Tips for Growing Rosemary Indoors in Winter
Rosemary is native to Mediterranean climates so it prefers a hot, sunny, and humid atmosphere. Here are some tips for keeping your rosemary plants alive indoors during winter:
- Quarantine: If you have houseplants, it is a good idea to quarantine your rosemary plants when you bring them indoors. Keep the plants in a separate location for a while to be sure there are no hitchhikers, pests, or disease.
- Light: Locate your rosemary plants in a bright south-facing window. Alternatively, you can use grow lights and keep your plants happy during the winter months.
- Water: Try to keep the potting mix evenly moist. Over watering will cause the plant to rot. If the soil is too dry, the plant will wither and die. Water when the soil dries out at the surface and let the extra moisture drain.
- Temperature: Rosemary likes it a bit on the cooler side during the winter. Keep the plants away from heat sources and wood stoves. About 60 to 65 degrees is ideal.
- Humidity: Winter heating keeps us warm, but it also saps moisture from the air and drops the humidity. Compensate by misting your rosemary plant frequently, running a humidifier, or placing your rosemary plant on a tray of pebbles and water to increase the humidity around your plant.
- Pests and Diseases: Common pests for indoor rosemary plants are red spider mites, aphids, spittlebugs, and whiteflies. These pests suck on the plants and cause the foliage to wilt and dry up. Inspect your rosemary plants frequently for pests and control with organic insecticidal soap. Diseases such as root rot, powdery mildew, and mold are all signs of too much moisture and poor air circulation. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between watering, and then water thoroughly allowing extra water to drain out of the bottom of the pot. Run a fan to improve air circulation around your plants.
This article was originally published March 23, 2015. It has been updated with additional information, new photos, and video.
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Growing Rosemary Plants: Rosemary Plant Care
Evergreen rosemary is an attractive evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves and brilliant blue flowers. The flowers of evergreen rosemary persist through spring and summer, filling the air with a nice piney fragrance. This beautiful herb, mostly used for seasoning dishes, is also commonly used as ornamental plantings in the landscape.
The scientific name for rosemary plant is Rosmarinus officinalis, which translates to “mist of the sea,” as its gray-green foliage is thought to resemble mist against the sea cliffs of the Mediterranean, where the plant originates.
Evergreen Rosemary Plant Care
Rosemary plant care is easy. When growing rosemary plants, provide them with well-drained, sandy soil and at least six to eight hours of sunlight. These plants thrive in warm, humid environments and cannot take extremely cold temperatures. Since rosemary cannot withstand winters below 30 F. (-1 C.), it’s often better when growing rosemary plants to put them in containers, which can be placed in the ground and easily moved indoors during winter.
Rosemary prefers to remain somewhat on the dry side; therefore, terra cotta
pots are a good choice when selecting suitable containers. These pots allow the plant to dry out faster. Thoroughly water rosemary plants when the soil is dry to the touch but allow the plants to dry out between watering intervals. Even indoors, rosemary plants will require lots of light, at least six hours, so place the plant in a suitable location free of drafts.
Pruning rosemary will help make a bushier plant. Most herbs thrive on being trimmed every now and then, especially those used for flavorings. Snip sprigs just as you would when cutting back a houseplant, trimming rosemary once blooming has ceased. The general rule for trimming rosemary is not to take more than one-third of the plant at any time and make cuts just above a leaf joint. These can then be dried like any other herb by hanging tied bundles upside down in a cool, dry place.
Evergreen Rosemary Propagation
Rosemary plants are usually propagated by cuttings, as it can be tricky getting evergreen rosemary seeds to germinate. Successfully growing rosemary plants from seeds comes only when the seeds are very fresh and when planted in optimum growing conditions.
Start new rosemary plants with cuttings from existing evergreen plants. Cut stems that are about 2 inches (5 cm.) long and remove leaves on the bottom two-thirds of the cutting. Place the cuttings in a mixture of perlite and peat moss, spraying with water until roots begin to grow. Once roots have developed, you can plant the cuttings as you would with any rosemary plant.
Rosemary plants are prone to becoming root bound and should be repotted at least once a year. Yellowing of the lower foliage is an early indication that it’s time to repot.
Watch A Video About Growing Rosemary:
You can learn how to grow rosemary in a few minutes. Rosemary is commonly used in the kitchen as a flavoring. The spicy, aromatic leaves can be used fresh or dried in many dishes flavoring beef, veal, pork, lamb, stuffings, soups, sauces, and salad dressings. Rosemary is a woody, evergreen perennial herb that can be grown as an annual. Rosemary grows best in warmer climates; it is a Mediterranean region native. In cold winter regions, grow rosemary indoors as a potted annual.
Get to Know Rosemary
- Botanical name and family: Rosmarinus officinalis (Lamiaceae—mint family)
- Origin: Mediterranean region
- Type of plant: Rosemary is a woody, evergreen perennial; rosemary plants can live for 15 or more years with little care.
- Growing season: Summer
- Growing zones: Zones 8 to 11
- Hardiness: Rosemary is cold hardy to 10°
- Plant form and size: Rosemary grows as a shrub and can vary in growth habit from low-growing, rounded and spreading to stiff and upright to 6 feet tall. Rosemary stems become woody and rugged-looking with age. Branches tend to sweep outward and upward.
- Flowers: Rosemary has small clusters of pale blue, lavender flowers ¼ to ½ inch across in whorls on short spikes.
- Bloom time: Flowers winter through spring.
- Leaves: Glossy dark green resinous aromatic narrow needle-like leaves to about one inch long that are grayish-white on the underside.
How to Plant Rosemary
- Best location: Grow rosemary in full sun.
- Soil preparation: Rosemary grows best in light, well-drained soil. Add aged compost to the planting bed ahead of planting. Rosemary will endure poor soil as long as it is well-drained. Rosemary prefers a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
- Seed starting indoors: Sow rosemary seeds indoors in spring. Sow seed in potting soil under fluorescent lights. Seed can take up to 21 days to germinate at 65° Rosemary can also be grown from cuttings. Start cuttings from new growth in spring or late summer.
- Transplanting to the garden: Set out rosemary transplants after the last spring frost.
- Outdoor planting time: Rosemary seed can be started outdoors after the last spring frost. You can start new plants by layering stems during the summer; cover an herbaceous section of stem with soil and it will root in place to create a new plant.
- Planting depth: Sow rosemary seed ¼ to ½ inch deep.
- Spacing: Space plants 18 to 36 inches apart.
- How much to plant: Grow one rosemary plant for cooking; grow 2 to 3 plants for preserving.
- Companion planting: Grow rosemary with lavender, sage, hyssop, and Santolina. Rosemary’s fragrance is said to repel cabbage flies, root maggot flies, and other flying pests.
How to Grow Rosemary
- Watering: Keep the soil just moist as rosemary become established; once established, water rosemary infrequently. Rosemary is sensitive to overwatering and under-watering. That said it’s best to not let plantings dry out.
- Feeding: Rosemary is a light feeder. Keep planting beds fed with aged compost. Apply a foliar spray of liquid seaweed or kelp extracts two or three times during the growing season.
- Mulching: Mulch around rosemary with aged compost or chopped leaves to slow soil moisture evaporation.
- Care: To encourage fresh growth, trim rosemary back several inches twice each season. Prune plants after the flowers have faded
- Container growing: Rosemary can be container grown as an annual or as a perennial. Choose a container at least 12 inches in diameter and at least 8 inches deep. Grow rosemary indoors under fluorescent light set directly above the plants.
- Winter growing: Rosemary may not overwinter well when the weather is wet and cold for prolonged periods. Protect rosemary from harsh, cold winters (colder than Zone 7) by moving it indoors or into a cold frame or greenhouse when freezing weather threatens; keep greenhouse plants at 45°F or warmer. Indoor plants need plenty of light and high humidity; dry heat will cause leaf drop. Trim plants to shape after flowering to overwinter indoors. If you leave rosemary in place outdoors in cold winter regions, protect the plant with a layer of evergreen boughs, chopped leaves, or straw. Larger plants will overwinter better outdoors than small ones.
- Pests: Mealybugs and scale may be occasional problems where plants are stressed. If growing rosemary indoors watch for scale and wipe them from foliage with a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol.
- Diseases: In humid climates, rosemary can be susceptible to fungal root rot. Amend the soil with aged compost and do not grow plants too close together.
How to Harvest Rosemary
- When to harvest: Snip fresh foliage as needed all year; rosemary leaves are most aromatic just before the plant blooms.
- How to harvest: Harvest leaves and branches with a garden pruner. Take 4 to 6-inch sprigs from the tips of the branches for kitchen use. Strip the leaves from the stems. Never prune more than one-third of the plant at one time; severe pruning will stress the plant.
Rosemary in the Kitchen
- Flavor and aroma: Rosemary has a mild camphor flavor. When used to excess, rosemary will have an acrid taste. Add a small amount then adjust to taste.
- Leaves: Use fresh or dried leaves in sauces, stews, soups, and also meat and poultry dishes. Rosemary enhances the flavor of tomatoes, spinach, peas, mushrooms, squash, cheese, and eggs. Add rosemary to marinades, salad dressings, and cream sauces.
- Stems: Toss rosemary stems on the coals to flavor barbeques just before the meat is finished; the smoke will impart rosemary flavor to the meat. Use stems as a brush to apply barbecue sauce to chicken.
- Flowers: Flowers can be sprinkled on salads or used in herbs butter or cream cheese spreads.
- Culinary compliments: Rosemary compliments chives, thyme, chervil, parsley, and bay.
Preserving and Storing Rosemary
- Refrigeration: Wrap sprigs in a clean towel; they will stay fresh in the refrigerator crisper for as long as 2 weeks.
- Drying: Rosemary can be dried for storing by setting the leaves on a screen or drying tray in a shady, warm place. Gather bunches and hang them upside down in a cool, shady place.
- Freezing: Rosemary leaves can be frozen in a freezer bag.
- Storing: Store dried rosemary leaves in an airtight container out of sunlight.
- Seed: Rosemary seed is difficult to germinate. Sow seed in potting soil under fluorescent lights. Seed can take up to 21 days to germinate at 65°
- Cuttings: Start stem cuttings in spring or late summer or fall. To start rosemary from cuttings snip a 3-inch cutting from the top of a branch and remove the leaves on the lower third, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone to encourage root formation, and firm the stem into a light potting mix.
- Layering: Branches that touch the ground usually form roots that can become independent plants. Layer stems in early summer.
Rosemary Varieties to Grow
- Rosmarinus prostrates is a low growing trailing variety to about 3 feet tall. This variety will sprawl. The flowers of prostrate rosemary are a deeper blue than upright varieties.
- ‘Tuscan Blue’ is a rigid, upright variety that can grow to 6 feet tall or more; flowers are dark blue.
- ‘Albus’ has white flowers.
- ‘Collingwood Ingram’ has gracefully curved stems and grows 2 to 3 feet tall.
- ‘Lockwood de Forest’ grows 18 to 24 inches tall and has dark blue flowers.
More tips at Growing Herbs for Cooking.
Also of interest:
How to Grow Mint
How to Grow Thyme
How to Grow Oregano
How to Grow Parsley
Growing Rosemary in your Home Garden
With very little effort and not even the best soil, a gardener can grow enough rosemary to supply not only the needs of family and friends, but every restaurant in the area.
For those who think growing herbs isn’t worth the effort, a quick scan of the price labels at the supermarket may change your mind. One third of an ounce of dried rosemary can cost close to $4. That comes out to $182 a pound!
And if you’re thinking, ‘What am I going to do with all that rosemary?’consider having your butcher butterfly a leg of lamb. Douse it with olive oil, some crushed garlic, black pepper and lots of fresh rosemary. Refrigerate overnight and grill it on a bed of rosemary sprigs. Rosemary also is great with pork, chicken and even potatoes.
Grown from either plants or seeds, rosemary is an outstanding perennial performer in Zones 7 to 10 with reports of it thriving in Zone 6 not uncommon. Plants can be brought indoors to overwinter in colder zones.
If you are unsure of your agricultural zone, simply visit our Growing Zone finder and enter your zip code to find out which zone you reside in & its frost-free date.
Growing Perennial Herbs In Your Garden
History of Rosemary
A member of the mint family, like so many herbs, rosemary’s history is rooted in ancient times. The Greeks and Romans made mention of its medical and mystical properties in addition to more realistic uses in the kitchen. Rosemary found its way into the folklore of many countries where it was thought to ward off evil spirits as well as being a symbol of the fidelity of lovers.
With its attractive spike-adorned stems, rosemary also found its place in Christmas decorations as it is easily added to wreaths and sprays.
Rosemary Seeds or Plants
Although plants are available and useful where just a small amount of rosemary is needed, the only way to make a real statement is to grow rosemary from seed.
A packet contains 100 seeds, and if all germinate, we’re talking about a rosemary hedge that can add year-round color to a fence, serve as a backdrop for flower beds or even take summer grilling to new heights.
Cultivation of Rosemary
Seeds should be started indoors about 10 weeks before a zone’s frost free date. Don’t fret if that date has passed, rosemary is a perennial and given a summer of growth, it will thrive.
Fill a container almost to the top with a good seed starting mixture, sprinkle the seeds on the surface, and then cover with an additional 1/2 inch of the starting mixture. Keep the container evenly moist. The seeds will sprout in 14 to 21 days. When they are a couple of inches tall and the weather has warmed up, harden them off by putting them outside during the day and bringing them in at night for a few days and then plant them outdoors.
Rosemary Growing Tips
Rosemary requires only sunlight, good drainage and ample air circulation to thrive. A sandy, well draining soil and 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight daily will have the plants off and running in no time.
There is little need to fertilize rosemary plants. A basic 5-10-5 fertilizer applied in the spring and perhaps a foliar spray mid season will keep the plants healthy and happy.
Where winters are somewhat severe and sustained temperatures are well below 30 degrees F., rosemary plants will have to be brought indoors for the coldest months.
Grown in a sheltered area with a southern exposure, my plants have survived short periods of temperatures in the low teens.
If low temps persist, bring a few plants indoors. Put rosemary plants in terra-cotta pots and water only as needed to prevent drying out. Rosemary doesn’t need a lot of water whether indoors or out, but it does need to be put in front of a sunny south facing window. If this is not possible, use artificial light. Heat is not critical. A cool room will do fine. Move the plants back outdoors once the frost-free date has passed.
Pest and Problems for Rosemary
Rosemary grown indoors is susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungus that can develop where the air is humid and good circulation is lacking. Counter these conditions by keeping indoor plants and air somewhat dry.
Aphids and spider miters, if present, can be controlled with a spray of insecticidal soap.
Snip off sprigs of rosemary all summer and into the fall and winter as needed. Where winter temperatures are severe and bringing plants inside is not an option, rosemary can be easily dried and stored.
Simply bundle sprigs and hang them inverted in a warm, airy place. A covered porch works fine. Once dried, store the sprigs or stripped off leaves in sealable plastic bags or jars. They will keep until next season’s crop is ready to harvest.
How to Save a Dying Rosemary Tree
rosemary image by Denis Plaster from Fotolia.com
Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen perennial which is often kept in kitchens for its herbal qualities, as well as being grown for decorative holiday trees and bonsai trees. For these purposes, rosemary is most commonly grown in a pot. Native to the Mediterranean area, rosemary does best in warm sunny climates, but since its popularity has taken it all over the world, rosemary can now be found in colder climates. This is another reason rosemary is often kept in a pot–for easy transport outside in the spring and back indoors for the winter. The potted rosemary tree is a more fragrant rosemary but also a more temperamental rosemary tree.
Determine if your rosemary tree is dying from being over watered. Check the pot your rosemary is in to determine if it has enough drainage. Similarly, check the soil your rosemary is in. If the soil is more clay and not enough sand and loam, this could contribute to your rosemary’s roots having root rot due to too much moisture.
Remedy an over watered rosemary plant by re-potting it into a well-draining soil mix within a pot with adequate drainage. Additionally, you can set the first pot within a larger, gravel filled pot. Water your rosemary with just a half of a cup every other day, and allow excess water to run out of the pot. Dispose of the excess water.
Determine if your rosemary tree is being under watered by checking the soil. If the soil is dry throughout the pot, your rosemary is dying due to a lack of water.
Begin watering your rosemary tree daily to ensure it is getting enough water. Pour a half of a cup of water into the soil at the base of the plant. Get into the habit of checking the soil of your rosemary. If the top layer of soil is dry, it is time to give your rosemary some water.
Examine the location of your rosemary tree. Inadequate sunlight is a common cause of rosemary tree death. Rosemary needs full sun for at least six to eight hours a day to be healthy.
Relocate your rosemary to a sunny location if it is dying due to inadequate sunlight. South facing windows allow for the most sun in an indoor location. If the weather is fair, move your rosemary outdoors for sunlight. If there is not enough sunlight available, supplement your rosemary’s light with fluorescent lighting placed just 4 inches above your plant.
Determine if your rosemary is dying due to harsh elements. Rosemary does not fair well in the winters of the cold climates. Rosemary can stay outdoors year round in zones 10 through 8, but will need some protection in other zones.
Protect your rosemary tree in borderline zones by mulching it heavily or by bringing it inside. In the winters of the coldest zones, rosemary will have to be brought inside to survive the winter. Before bringing your rosemary indoors, wean it off of sunlight by gradually moving it to shadier spots to allow it to grow leaves which are better suited for less light.
Check your rosemary tree for powdery mildew. This is a common ailment for rosemary and can be remedied by increasing the air flow around your rosemary with a fan.
Check your rosemary tree for pests. A rosemary tree weakened by poor water or sun is more susceptible to infestation. Treat your rosemary with neem oil or some other organic insecticide to get rid of the pests.