How to Grow Rosemary Like an Expert

Updated on June 19, 2020
Jana Louise Smit profile image

Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.

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Who Wants to Learn How to Grow Rosemary?

Learning how to grow rosemary is useful in three ways. With needle-like leaves and light blue flowers, this plant makes any garden look beautiful. But flower-admiring gardeners are not the only people who find this plant useful in their world. Rosemary is also a must-have for the serious herbalist and cook.

Please see the precautions at the end of this article. Ingesting rosemary is not safe for individuals with certain medical conditions.

What is Rosemary Used For?

Rosemary is used as a flavour enhancer in dishes and as a medicinal herb. As far as its culinary powers are concerned, rosemary adds magic to stews, soups, casseroles, and meaty meals - including fish! This member of the mint family is also said to improve blood circulation, brain function, boost the immune system, and, when water is infused with rosemary and used as a wash, it apparently gives a person shinier hair.

Scientists are also looking into the possibility that rosemary can have therapeutic benefits for patients with Alzheimer's Disease.

Rosemary adds a distinctive flavour to meat and is often used in marinades and pre-seasoning.
Rosemary adds a distinctive flavour to meat and is often used in marinades and pre-seasoning. | Source

Can I Grow Rosemary From a Cutting?

Yes, you can grow rosemary from a cutting. This is the quickest way when you don’t have the patience to go the seed route. If you’re lucky enough to have your own rosemary bushes, then you’re all set to start harvesting. But if you don’t have your own rosemary plant, then look for a friendly neighbour and ask their permission to take a few cuttings. Otherwise, it’s also a good idea to buy your own bush from a nursery.

Buyer’s Guide to Buying Rosemary

  • Look for a healthy rosemary plant that has been well cared for.

  • Avoid dry or ill plants. Healthy rosemary leaves are dark green and full-bodied (never shriveled).

  • Choose a bush that is relatively older, since you’re going to take cuttings from it. The rosemary plant is too young if every branch is soft and bendy. Some must have a woody look and feel to them.

  • A healthy rosemary bush has an aromatic smell when you put your nose closer.

  • Be prepared to pay more for an older rosemary bush.

A healthy rosemary plant is a thing of beauty.
A healthy rosemary plant is a thing of beauty. | Source

How to Grow Rosemary From a Cutting

Alright, let’s say that you have your own rosemary plant or a neighbour that allows you to give theirs a haircut. Here’s your step-by-step guide to growing your own herbs using a very successful water technique.

  1. Gather glass bottles or drinking glasses. Pick scissors that are clean and sharp.

  2. Find branches that are not too woody or soft.

  3. Cut cleanly at an angle of 45 degrees. Take several cuttings without taxing the plant. Ideally, the cuttings should be at least 10 cm (3.9 in) long.

  4. Strip the cutting’s lower half of the leaves.

  5. Place up to four cuttings in a jar or drinking glass.

  6. Place the container in indirect sunlight, where there’s warmth but not too much heat.

  7. Replace the water every 2 to 3 days.

  8. After 4 to 8 weeks, the cuttings will grow roots.

  9. Keep changing the water until the cutting has long roots.

  10. Fill pots with growth medium, make a hole big enough to take the cutting’s roots, and gently fill up the hole with soil. Add a little water.

  11. You can plant several cuttings in a pot, depending on the container’s size but keep them roughly a thumb’s length apart.

How to Grow Rosemary Seeds

Nursing rosemary seeds to life is the slower road. But if you’re ambitious or want to advance from cuttings to seeds, then go for it. It’s a worthwhile project for the whole family, in fact! Here’s how to grow rosemary seeds at home.

  1. Collect the seed pods after the flowers disappear in late spring or summer.

  2. Only harvest the pods that are brown and dry.

  3. If you want to skip the above steps, you can also purchase rosemary seeds.

  4. Place the pods in an open bowl and dry them for a further 1 to 2 weeks.

  5. Rub the pods and collect the seeds, which are tiny and egg-shaped.

  6. Fill seed trays with a light and loose potting soil.

  7. Add 4 to 5 seeds to each cell but place them on the soil’s surface.

  8. Spritz a little water on your seeds, add a fine layer of soil, and spritz again.

  9. Cover the tray with plastic and place it in an area with direct sunlight.

  10. Add a little moisture only when the sand is dry.

  11. You can expect to see your new rosemary babies in 15 to 25 days.

Rosemary is the perfect pot plant for a rustic decor.
Rosemary is the perfect pot plant for a rustic decor. | Source

How to Take Care of Rosemary Seedlings

Oh, happy day. You’ve germinated rosemary seeds. Don’t take it personally when you sprout fewer than you’d hope for. The germination rate for rosemary is low. But now that you have your new seedlings, here’s how you can help them to survive.

Don’t water too much. Rosemary seedlings perish quickly when the soil is soggy. Fungi or mold multiplies in the wet sand and causes a condition called “damping off.” This disease mows seedlings down like a reaper. Only add a little moisture when the soil seems dry.

When seedlings are roughly 7 or 8 cm (3 inches) in height, place the trays outside and keep an eye on them. The idea is to acclimatize your batch to the outside world but frost and rough weather can still kill them. Once the days are warm enough, you can plant them directly in the garden or in pots. The latter is a good idea because it keeps your rosemary plants mobile. In case the weather turns vicious, you can bring them inside for safety.

How to Take Care of Your Rosemary Plant

The Basics

Rosemary loves direct full sunlight and minimal water. That being said, it’s also important that the roots never dry out, so stay on top of watering your rosemary bush when the soil seems dry. Your herbal friend will flourish in a location with 6 to 8 hours of sunlight, especially when it lives indoors.

How do You Care for Potted Rosemary?

Rosemary is a lovely and hardy potplant. The good news is that you already know how to care for this leafy wonder. You’ve previously learned that a sunny spot is best, especially when it allows the rosemary plant to soak up the required amount of time each day. Also, you can give a good watering when the soil is very dry. You don’t really need fertilizer but feeding your rosemary once in a while certainly won’t hurt.

How do You Care for Garden Rosemary?

Should you be lucky enough to move house and find an established rosemary plant, then here’s even better news. You don’t have to do much except to give water on rare occasions. If it rains regularly in your area, then you don’t even have to do that.

When you plant rosemary seedlings in the garden, they require some attention. First, make sure that they’re hardy enough and then plant them in direct sunlight. Treat them the same as if they were still in the seed trays. Check on them every now and again to moisten the dry soil, check for problems like soil erosion, disease, or perhaps your dog strolled through them, you get the idea. But in the end, it’s all about sunlight and spritzing until they, too, are well-established.

An established rosemary bush.
An established rosemary bush. | Source

Managing Rosemary-Loving Pests

The biggest problem with rosemary plants is powdery mildew. This white fungus looks like a powder - hence the name. This problem is triggered by poor air circulation and high humidity. You can prevent powdery mildew by leaving a window open near your potted rosemary when there’s a breeze.

Spider mites and aphids also like rosemary plants. Any gardener familiar with these pests knows that they can get out of hand extremely quickly. The moment you spot them, it’s best to get a commercial, eco-safe product to deal with them as soon as possible. But if you only see a few, they can be removed with a wet cotton bud.

Precautions When Using Rosemary

Rosemary is allegedly safe to consume in low doses. But side-effects include seizures, coma, fluid in the lungs, and vomiting. If any of the following applies to you, then please play it safe and find a suitable alternative.

  1. Epilepsy

  2. High blood pressure

  3. Pregnancy

  4. If you’re using anticoagulant drugs, diuretic medication, and Lithium.

A Quick Summary

Rosemary is harder to propagate than most herbs but relatively easy to care for. This beautiful herb can live the cosseted life of a potplant or sacrifice a twig to your cooking. The leaves are valued for the distinct savoury flavour that they bring to cooked meals and meat. The plant also has herbal qualities but rosemary remedies must be used with caution.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jana Louise Smit

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