Growing rosemary isn’t as difficult as some might think. In this post, you will learn all there is to know about how to grow rosemary. From planting, to fertilizing, sunlight, watering, pruning, harvesting, and more! You’ll find it all in this detailed rosemary plant care guide.
If you want to try growing herbs in your garden, then rosemary is a great choice. This versatile plant can be grown in a pot or the garden, and it requires very little care.
The best part about growing rosemary is being able to harvest it fresh from your garden whenever you need some for a recipe. It’s delicious in culinary dishes, and there are tons of uses for it in cooking.
Plus, when you grow your own, you’ll never have to buy it from the store again! So, if you’re ready to learn how to grow rosemary, then keep reading!
Here is what you will find in this comprehensive rosemary plant care guide:
- Different Types Of Rosemary
- How To Grow
- How To Harvest
- Propagation Tips
Different Types of Rosemary
Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean, and a member of the mint family. There are two different types: upright and creeping. Both varieties can be used as a culinary herb, as well as for decorative foliage.
These varieties can be sold under several different names, but the characteristics described below should help you distinguish between the two.
This elegant shrub has a narrow grayish needle-like foliage with beautiful blue flowers. Upright rosemary can grow to be as tall as 4-feet, with a spread of 3-feet when grown in an ideal climate. But for those of us who live in a cold climate, it won’t have time to grow that large.
Creeping rosemary has an entirely different growth habit, but it still delivers the same pungent flavor. This variety is more commonly found trailing from terraced and raised beds, or as a ground cover in the garden.
Hardiness Of Rosemary
All types of rosemary are evergreen perennial plants that can live for many years. This temperate herb is hardy in growing zones 7 through 10, which means only a small portion of the southern US can grow it outdoors year-round.
The rest of us must grow it as an annual plant, or overwinter it indoors in order to enjoy the fresh flavor in winter dishes. Fortunately, as a fragrant and attractive herb, it is a pleasant addition indoors.
How To Grow Rosemary
Although there are two different types, their basic growing requirements are the same. So, you can use the following care and growing instructions for any variety you want to grow.
Where To Grow Rosemary
The best place to grow rosemary is in an area of your garden that gets full sun, and has fast draining, alkaline soil. If you live in a warm climate, then make sure to give your plants adequate space. They don’t like to be overcrowded.
Rosemary also grows very well in containers, as long as the pot has drainage holes, and the soil does not hold water. When you grow it in a pot, you can easily bring it indoors for the winter.
When To Plant Rosemary
Rosemary thrives in warm summer weather. So, it’s best to wait until the soil has warmed up in the spring before planting it into your garden. You can plant rosemary in the fall if you live in a warm area.
If you plan to grow it in a container, then you can plant it much earlier. Just be sure to protect it from freezing temperatures in early spring.
Rosemary Plant Care & Growing Tips
Once rosemary has been planted, it is very easy to take care of. Though the plants require very little maintenance, there are definitely some things you need to know in order to keep them growing their best. Here are all the details for proper rosemary care:
Sunlight Requirements For Growing Rosemary
These herbs need to have 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day in order to thrive, so be sure to plant your rosemary in a full sun location. It will tolerate a partial shade location, but probably won’t grow as fast.
Adequate sunlight is rarely an issue when the plants are grown outdoors, but it can be difficult to provide enough light indoors. So, if you plan on growing rosemary indoors, then be sure to invest in a grow light.
Watering Rosemary Plants
Whether grown indoors or out, rosemary does not need a lot of water. It won’t tolerate wet feet for long, so be sure to keep the soil on the dry side.
To ensure you never overwater your plant, allow the soil to dry slightly before watering it again. But never let it dry out to the point where the leaves start shriveling or wilting.
You can check the moisture level by sticking your finger one inch into the soil. If feels wet, then don’t water the plant. If you’re unsure, a soil moisture gauge will help you get it perfect every time.
Best Soil For Growing Rosemary
Rosemary grows best in a fast draining soil that has been amended with rich, organic ingredients. You can add things like worm castings, compost, or an organic all-purpose fertilizer to the soil before planting.
Also, remember that rosemary plants do not like wet roots. So be sure to grow them in an area that has sandy, well-drained soil. Or use a high-quality soilless mix for growing them in containers. Learn more about fertilizing herbs here.
Rosemary Pruning Tips
Though regular pruning isn’t required in order to grow rosemary, it is still beneficial. Pinching and pruning will not only allow you to control the shape of the plant, it will also encourage branching. Which means a bigger harvest for you!
If you live in a place where you can grow it year-round, then pruning will help to keep your shrub healthy, and rejuvenate it. But, to ensure that it replaces its growth, don’t prune more than one-third of the plant at any given time.
Rosemary is not a heavy feeder, so you don’t need to worry about fertilizing it on a regular basis. But, like any other plant, it will benefit from being fed once and a while, especially when grown in a container.
You can apply a granular herb fertilizer to the soil, or use a liquid fertilizer (like compost tea or fish emulsion). If you have a compost pile, you could try making your own tea fertilizer. Using a foliar spray mid-season will also help to keep the plants healthy.
Rosemary Plant Pest & Disease Control
Like most herbs, rosemary plants rarely have any pest issues. But sometimes aphids or spider mites can become a problem, especially indoors.
Rosemary is susceptible to powdery mildew. The best way to prevent it is to make sure that there is adequate airflow around the plant.
Check your plant regularly for signs of powdery mildew. If you spot some, you can treat the foliage with a diluted solution of one part milk to five parts water. Then prune off the affected parts. If you’re growing it indoors, place the plant a sunny window to activate the milk solution.
Tips For Harvesting Rosemary
Harvesting rosemary is just as easy as growing and caring for it. The stems can be snipped off through the summer, and into the fall and winter as needed.
The oils in the leaves are the source of rosemary’s characteristic flavor, and any of the woody stems should be discarded before use.
Tips For Propagating Rosemary
Rosemary propagation can be done by either growing seeds, or by taking stem cuttings. Rooting the stem cuttings is the best way to get a sizable plant the fastest.
It takes quite some time for rosemary to reach a harvestable size when grown from seeds. So if you plan to grow them from seed, start them at least ten weeks before your last frost date.
FAQs About Growing Rosemary
In this section, I will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about growing rosemary. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, then ask it in the comments section below.
Why do my rosemary plants keep dying?
One of the most common causes of death for rosemary plants is improper watering. Keeping the soil too wet will cause the roots to rot, and the plant to die. To prevent overwatering, be sure to grow rosemary in porous, fast-draining soil. Read the “Watering” section above for more details.
How do you care for potted rosemary?
Potted rosemary plant care is very similar to growing it in the garden. The main difference is that using the correct type of soil, watering, and fertilizing are even more important for plants in containers than for those in the ground.
Plants in pots are more susceptible to overwatering. So be sure to grow rosemary in a pot that has drainage holes, and use a fast-draining soil. Read the “Watering”, “Soil” and “Fertilizing” sections above to learn more.
Can rosemary survive the winter?
That depends on where you live. Rosemary is a perennial plant, but it’s only hardy in zones 7-10. So, if you live somewhere colder than that, then it will not survive the winter outside.
But you can grow it indoors, or overwinter it in a garage or basement, as long as the temperature doesn’t get below freezing.
Can you grow rosemary indoors?
Yes, rosemary can grow quite well indoors. But it needs 6-8 hours of bright light, which can be difficult to achieve indoors. Even a sunny window may not be enough, especially during the winter. So you’ll likely need to add a grow light.
Just make sure the plant doesn’t get too hot indoors. Indoor rosemary plants would rather be in a cool, sunny window, or in a well ventilated, unheated (above freezing) porch as opposed to a warm, humid kitchen.
Growing rosemary in the garden or containers is easy, and requires very little effort. Not only is it delicious, but this popular evergreen herb looks gorgeous in the garden too. And, now that you know all the details about rosemary plant care, you can enjoy it year after year!
More About Growing Herbs
- How To Care For Lavender Plants
- 15 Perennial Herbs To Grow In Your Garden
- 11 Easy Herbs To Grow In Your Garden
- A Guide To Successful Indoor Herb Gardening
Share your tips for growing rosemary in the comments section below.