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How to Grow Rosemary

Fragrant, delicious rosemary is a wonderful herb to grow on your own, either indoors in a pot or outside in your garden. Rosemary is generally not hard to grow, and once it has taken root, this perennial, woody shrub will thrive for years. Read on to learn how to plant, care for, and harvest rosemary.

Part One of Three:
Planting Rosemary
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  1. 1
    Get a rosemary cutting. Rosemary is easiest to grow from a cutting, rather than planting seeds. Visit a community garden and ask for a cutting, or ask a friend for a cutting of their plant. After you find a rosemary plant, clip off a few 4 inch pieces to propagate. The best time to do this is in the late spring, but if you live in a warmer climate, this can be done during early autumn as well. The plants you'll be able to grow from the cuttings will have the same qualities as the original bush.
    • If you'd prefer to grow a variety you haven't seen in your area, you can order a cutting online or ask your nursery to get one for you. There are many varieties of rosemary, each with slightly different properties. Some grow very bushy and tall, while others tend to trail; some have purple or blue flowers, some white.
    • You can also buy a seedling or small plant from a nursery if you don't want to propagate a cutting.
  2. 2
    Strip the leaves off the bottom inch of the stem. Before planting the rosemary, strip the leaves off of the lower section of the cutting (about an inch from the end of the stem). This part of the plant will go into the soil.
    • It is important to strip these leaves because leaving these leaves on will cause the stem to rot instead of grow.
  3. 3
    Propagate the rosemary. After you have stripped the leaves, put each cutting into a small pot of soil filled with two-thirds coarse sand and one-third peat moss. Set the pot in a sunny place, but not in direct sunlight. Water the cuttings regularly and keep in a warm spot until the roots form, which should take about three weeks.
    • To help the cuttings grow, you can place the entire pot inside a plastic bag with a few holes punctured in the top. This will help regulate the temperature and keep things warm and moist.[1]
    • You may also dip the tips of the rosemary cuttings in rooting powder to give them a head start.
  4. 4
    Plant the seedlings. Once roots have formed, you can plant the rosemary either in pots or outdoors in your garden. Rosemary will adapt to most growing conditions and is quite hardy. It's happy with snow, limestone, high temperatures, by the seaside, and all sorts of soils. It will grow its best however, in a warm to hot, fairly dry climate. Choose a full sun aspect that is fairly dry.
    • Decide whether you want to keep growing it in pots or as a shrub in the garden. It can also be trained as a delightfully scented hedge. For cooler climates, containers may be best so that you can move them if needed.
    • If planting in the garden, pot the cutting up once so it can establish more roots and gain strength before planting it outside. Then, choose soil that drains well. Rosemary can suffer from root rot in waterlogged soil. The more alkaline the soil, the more fragrant the rosemary will be. Dig in some lime if the soil is too acid.
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Part Two of Three:
Caring for Rosemary
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  1. 1
    Water rosemary infrequently. Rosemary prefers a drier soil, so don't overdo the watering. It will be happy with the average garden watering. It likes to source most of its water from rain.
  2. 2
    Don't worry about fertilizing. This is not an herb that needs it. However, make sure that there is some lime in the soil.
  3. 3
    Bring the pots indoors in winter if you live in a cold place. Though rosemary is hardy, it can suffer in very cold weather (lows of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less) and its branches can get damaged when laden with heavy snow. To ensure the plant survives the winter, it's best to bring it indoors.
    • If your winter lows do not get down to 0 degrees F, then you do not have to do this.
  4. 4
    Prune rosemary as needed. Pruning isn't necessary for the health of the plant, but rosemary bushes tend to grow quite large and take up a lot of garden space. Cut the branches back by a few inches each spring to help them retain their shape.
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Part Three of Three:
Harvesting and Using Rosemary
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  1. 1
    Harvest rosemary. Pick sprigs of rosemary leaves as needed. The bush will just keep on happily growing. Since rosemary is evergreen, you can harvest it all year round.
  2. 2
    Store the sprigs in a cool, dry place. You can also freeze rosemary by placing it in food storage bags and storing in the freezer. Alternatively, strip the leaves from the stems and store in airtight jars. Stored this way, rosemary will slowly dry and will keep for several months.
  3. 3
    Eat rosemary. Rosemary is a wonderful compliment to both sweet and savory dishes. Use it to add depth to meat and chicken, bread, butter, and even ice cream. These delicious recipes make use of rosemary:
  4. 4
    Use rosemary around the house. Rosemary can be dried and made into scented drawer sachets, used as in ingredient in homemade soap, turned into a fragranced water that makes your hair shiny and soft, and more. You can also simply brush against your rosemary plant to experience a fresh burst of its uplifting scent.
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Community Q&A

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  • Can rosemary be shaped like a ball tree?
    Answered by Andrew Carberry
    • Rosemary does not grow from a central trunk, so it can't be shaped as a ball off the ground. You could prune a bush into a round shape at ground level.
    Thanks! 13 1
  • Can rosemary live in part shade?
    Answered by Andrew Carberry
    • Yes, they can live in part shade as long as they are in a well-draining soil and location.
    Thanks! 10 1
  • I have totally over-watered my plant. It looks like a dry stick. Is it dead?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Since rosemary is an evergreen, it doesn't have seasonal changes like deciduous plants. When it looks dead, it's probably dead, especially since rosemary hates having wet feet or too much water. Wait a little longer but it's probably best to buy a new plant or take a cutting from a neighbor.
    Thanks! 41 10
  • How tall can the bush get?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Standard rosemary grows to about 2 meters (6 feet) in height. It is very slow to reach this height, however. The dwarf variety will reach about 45cm (18") in height and is suitable for container growing.
    Thanks! 25 6
  • Should one try to make rosemary tea?
    Answered by Deniseke
    • Sure. You can use either fresh or dried rosemary - about a sprig per cup. The flavor and aroma are lovely, just bear in mind that the longer you steep the rosemary in hot water, the stronger and more bitter your tea will become.
    Thanks! 16 4
  • Does rosemary have to be dried for cooking and eating?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • No. You may put a fresh twig in a casserole, strip the leaves in, or just thread bits of lamb and veggies onto a rosemary skewer for the barbecue.
    Thanks! 13 3
  • Do I water cut rosemary in a vase?
    Answered by Deniseke
    • Cut rosemary will stay fresh quite a while if you put it in a vase with water. In fact, it might even start to grow roots. If you don't give it any water, it will dry fairly quickly. It won't turn brown; the color will change to a gray-green.
    Thanks! 13 4
  • My rosemary dries up even while keeping it watered. What can I do?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • The sand might be too heavy. Try using a compost soil, which is very soft and nutritious for rosemary.
    Thanks! 13 4
  • Do I have to move rosemary indoors during cold weather?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Depending on where you live, you might not have to. While rosemary can tolerate minor amounts of snow, it cannot tolerate a lot of snow, or very cold temperatures, especially for long periods of time.
    Thanks! 24 10
  • My great aunt has a huge outdoor rosemary bush. Part of it (one side) has died and I want to prune it back. I am terrified. Will cutting dead sticks off, leaving the roots intact, help the bush? Also, if pieces fall off around it, will they grow without help?
    Answered by Deniseke
    • Pruning your plant will almost certainly help. Cutting off dead branches will not hurt your plant. Any bits you leave lying on the ground won't root, and even if they did, you could just pull them up.
    Thanks! 9 3
Show more answers
  • Why is my rosemary plant not growing straight up, the tip is looking down?
  • I bought to Tuscan blue rosemary plants and planted them pretty close together. Will that hurt them or should I move one?
  • Why does my rosemary in my outdoor garden during the spring and summer get spots? I grow several herbs in my herb garden and they dont get spots.
  • I was trying to do a research regarding sodium tolerant plants. I see that rosemary are saltwater-tolerant plant. Can it absorb sodium and be healthy?
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TipsEdit

  • Rosemary has different forms, including different colours, leaf shapes and sizes. Flower colours also vary, usually from pale blue to white.
    2 Helpful?  0
  • This evergreen shrub grows to about 2 metres (6 feet) in height. However, it is very slow to reach this height. The dwarf variety will reach about 45cm (18") and is suitable for container growing.
    2 Helpful?  0
  • If planting in a container, be reassured that rosemary makes a great pot plant. This is an ideal solution for very cold climates, as you can bring it indoors during the winter. While rosemary can tolerate minor amounts of snow, it cannot tolerate a lot, or very cold temperatures. In a container, keep it clipped to maintain a suitable shape. Clip both the roots and leaves for a healthy potted plant.
    4 Helpful?  2
  • Plant a rosemary bush near the clothesline. Clothes that brush against it will smell gorgeous. It's also a nice herb to brush against on a raised walkway.
    2 Helpful?  1
  • Rosemary is for "remembrance".
    1 Helpful?  0
  • Rosemary can tolerate salt and wind, making it an ideal seaside garden plant. However, it does grow best in a sheltered position, such as up against a wall, so try to provide this if possible.
    1 Helpful?  0
  • Rosemary can be frozen for up to six months. Simply place the sprigs into freezer bags and freeze. However, if you have your own bush, it's probably easiest to just pick as needed rather than take up extra freezer space.
    2 Helpful?  3
Add

WarningsEdit

  • Rosemary is unable to grow well with wet roots and may even die off.
    4 Helpful?  0

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Rosemary cuttings
  • Container or garden space
  • Scissors or shears to make initial cutting
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Plastic bag
  • Rooting powder (optional)

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Expert Review By:

AC
Professional Gardener

This version of How to Grow Rosemary was reviewed by Andrew Carberry on January 20, 2017.

40 votes - 100%
Co-authors: 10
Updated:
Views: 547,952

Reader Success Stories

  • KS

    Kay Smith

    Mar 30, 2016

    "A rosemary plant has taken over my herb barrel and actually pushed out my purple sage plant! She has to move. With the information provided here, I believe she can grow next to the back gate beside the power meter. Hope my purple salvia comes back! Got time before dark! Where are my gloves? Thank you for your help."..." more
  • JE

    Judy Etzler

    Feb 3, 2017

    "This article was written and illustrated with enough information to give the confidence to propagate more plants from my wonderful rosemary plant. Two of my friends have asked for plants, and my plant is so lush that I can easily snip some off and still have a big bushy plant. Thanks! "..." more
  • JS

    Joanne Sgrignoli

    Jun 7, 2016

    "Very informative, easy-to-follow instructions for growing and propagating/growing rosemary. I love that you include pictures and little hints along the way, e.g. if you brush up against rosemary it will release its scent. Lovely!"..." more
  • JH

    Judy Heald

    May 13, 2017

    "After viewing the steps on how to plant rosemary, I have diligently followed the instructions and planted 4 sprigs. I am hoping for more beautiful rosemary, as I love the scent and use the herb often. Fingers crossed!"..." more
  • SI

    Susana Isern

    May 11, 2016

    "Thank you very much for your help. Reading your review about rosemary helped me a lot to understand this beautiful plant growth. I growing some for my friends, too. "..." more
  • MS

    Miguel Santiago

    Dec 12, 2016

    "I had 4 plants and lost 1, I think I was over protecting them from the sun and watering them too much. Didn't know it had so many uses. Thanks so much!"..." more
  • CM

    Clif Myers

    Dec 10, 2016

    "I purchased fresh rosemary from the grocery store and rooted a sprig. Knowing little about rosemary, the part about cold weather was helpful."..." more
  • JJ

    Jilly Jenkins

    Aug 16, 2016

    "I have rosemary in a container, and it is growing, so I needed to know how to prune and treat it. This article was very helpful."..." more
  • CP

    Cathy P.

    Mar 20, 2016

    "I read that smelling rosemary helps improve memory by up to 75%. I will follow your very easy to understand steps. Wish me luck!"..." more
  • MC

    Mario Cutajar

    Jun 22, 2016

    "Details on how to plant and take care of rosemary gave me hope to be successful!"
  • CO

    Cindy Olson

    Jun 22, 2016

    "Helpful about not drowning the roots when rosemary is in a pot."
  • ME

    Melody Emmett

    Mar 30, 2016

    "What a great article! I'll be back. Thanks for the information."
  • KC

    Kathy Caceres

    Jun 23, 2016

    "It helped me very much."
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