Rosemary is easy to grow, evergreen in many climates, and it thrives in containers. There’s no excuse why you shouldn’t be growing some of your own.
Regardless of your growing zone, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a garden necessity. In warmer areas, this pungent, evergreen plant makes a beautiful, strong statement as a hedge or a graceful addition to a rock garden, and can commonly reach 3 feet in height, eventually stretching to 5 feet unless clipped. In cooler areas, rosemary is the perfect candidate for container gardening, as long as it receives the sunlight and well-drained soil it craves.
Rosemary is also a low-maintenance herb for its ability to live, for the most part, pest-free. Your only concern might be powdery mildew, which you can avoid by not overwatering and by providing adequate space and air circulation among its neighboring plants.
When planting your herbs, there are some easy gardening tips to follow to ensure the success of your rosemary plant. Rosemary is a hardy plant and it will do well in most types of soil, your only concern might be powdery mildew, which you can avoid by not overwatering and by providing adequate space and air circulation among its neighboring plants.
How to Plant Rosemary
1. Get Rosemary seeds
Rosemary is easiest to grow from a cutting, rather than planting seeds. Get a rosemary cutting, 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 don’t want to propagate a cutting you can also buy a seedling or small plant from a nursery.
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. 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. You may also dip the tips of the rosemary cuttings in rooting powder to give them a head start.
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.
Tips For Growing Rosemary Indoors in Winter
When temperatures drop and frosts come, you’ll probably want to move rosemary plants inside!
- Keep rosemary out of humid areas indoors (such as bathrooms or the kitchen) to avoid powdery mildew from forming on the soil.
- Another way to reduce the risk of powdery mildew is by increasing the air circulation around the plant, so again, let a fan blow on the plant on ‘low’ for a few hours a day.
- Outdoor sunlight exposure is more intense than sunlight exposure indoors, so make sure to place it in an area that receives plenty of sunlight.
- If you find that the sun the rosemary receives is still not enough, supplement the sunlight by shining a lamp with a fluorescent light bulb on the plant.
How to Harvest and Storage Rosemary
Cut stems at any time for fresh rosemary you need it. To dry rosemary, use a rack or hang it upside down in bunches to dry. Once stems are dry, strip the leaves from them. You can also freeze rosemary sprigs, preserve them in vinegar, or use them to flavor oil or butter.
Its pine needle-like leaves grow thickly along its stems, so there isn’t necessarily a perfect spot to cut it. The plant will naturally branch off from wherever you clip. Just don’t clip an entire stem all the way back to the base of the plant; you want to encourage future growth. Then again, if you live in a warmer area, your main concern might be containing this vigorous grower.
Whiteflies, spider mites, scale, and mealybugs can all bother rosemary, as can powdery mildew and root rot, particularly in humid regions. To prevent mildew and rot, be sure your plants enjoy good drainage and air circulation. In zone 7 and northward, extreme cold will kill the tops of the rosemary plant. In areas where it is likely to be hurt by winter, plant in a protected spot such as one near a south-facing masonry wall and away from the prevailing winter wind; also mulch to protect the roots. In zone 8 and farther south, rosemary needs no winter protection.
You can also watch How Growing Rosemary Indoor :