Growing Rosemary Plant – How to Grow Rosemary and Propagate at Home

Rosemary plant is a popular member of the herb garden. It is also a reliable addition to container gardens and vegetable patches. As well as its culinary uses, this Mediterranean herb retains its interest all year round.

Growing rosemary is not difficult and this detailed plant guide will teach you everything you need to know on how to grow rosemary.

Learning how to propagate rosemary plant will allow you to easily increase your number of plants. This enables you to plant in swathers, or fill bare spaces in bed and borders. When planted here the foliage and distinctive aroma of the plant will fill a space, attracting bees and pollinators amongst its admirers.

Rosmarinus officinalis is the most common plant variety of rosemary. This Latin name (Rosmarinus officinalis) also means dew or mist of the sea.

1 A perennial plant Rosemary reliably fills spaces with color and fragranceA perennial plant rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) reliably fills spaces with color and fragrance. A popular culinary ingredient, as well as attracting pollinators, these growing rosemary plants are also useful companion plants when grown in vegetable patches or flower beds. Growing rosemary is easy to master.

The rosemary is a perennial herb in USDA plant zones 8 and warmer. In these areas learning how to propagate rosemary enables you to cheaply and easily fill beds and herb spirals with this attractive, aromatic plant.

A fully grown plant, if left unchecked, the growing rosemary has a spread of around 4ft. The growing rosemary will also reach around 4ft in height.

Gardeners in cooler climates may be better off growing rosemary in containers. Container grown plants can then be covered or moved inside when the first frosts of the year arrive. In cooler climates learning how to propagate rosemary plant enables you to bring fragrance and year round interest to a container garden or a windowsill herb box with your growing rosemary.

The Benefits of Learning How to Propagate Rosemary Cuttings

There are a number of benefits of learning how to propagate rosemary cuttings and growing rosemary at home.

Firstly, if you grow rosemary from cuttings, you can enjoy an earlier rosemary harvest. Seeds from rosemary plants take a long time to reach maturity. Successful germination also relies on you providing the correct conditions. This can sometimes be difficult. In contrast, if you learn how to propagate rosemary cuttings, with the correct care rooted cuttings will reach a usable size within a couple of months.

If you learn how to propagate rosemary plant you will be able to successfully replicate the appearance and taste of the mother plant. Rosemary plants grown from cuttings also enjoy the same plant disease resistance and display the same plant growth habits as the parent rosemary.

2 Great as part of a flower bed or a herb spiralGreat as part of a flower bed or a herb spiral, learning how to propagate rosemary will enable you to easily, and cheaply, fill your garden with the growing rosemary plant.

Another reason to grow rosemary from cuttings is that this is a great way to get more rosemary plants for little expense. Purchasing a number of rosemary plants can be costly, especially if you also need to repot them into new containers.

Learning how to propagate rosemary plant is a great way to quickly increase the number of plants in your collection whilst keeping costs to a minimum.

Finally, learning how to propagate rosemary is also a transferable skill. Once mastered you can replicate the process on other herbs or plants. This enables you to increase your plant or herb collection of rosemary plants for very little expense.

How to Propagate Rosemary

Before explaining how to propagate rosemary there are a few items you will need. The most important is an established rosemary plant. Ideally the growing rosemary plant will have just finished flowering.

3 Once you know how to propagate rosemary you can attempt the process at any time of year
Once you know how to propagate rosemary plant you can attempt the process at any time of year. However you should avoid taking cuttings when the plant is in flower. Many gardeners prefer to take cuttings in the weeks after plant flowering has finished. 

You will also need:

  • A pair of scissors
  • A sharp knife
  • Terracotta pots, these should be clean and have drainage holes in the bottom. Alternatively you can root the plant cuttings in modular seed trays.
  • Hormone rooting powder
  • Compost – when you make or buy this, a mix of equal parts perlite, vermiculite or horticultural grit and potting compost is ideal
  • General purpose compost such as John Innes No2 for potting on

Before taking the cuttings make sure to fill the terracotta pots with the gritty compost mix.

How to Propagate Rosemary Cuttings

With the scissors take some new growth cuttings from the plant. New growth cuttings are young shoots, these will be green with leaves and bend easily. Make sure not to take plant cuttings from brown or woody older stems. Your chosen plant stems should also be healthy in appearance.

Each cutting should be about 6 inches in length. Remove the lower leaves from each cutting, exposing roughly the lower 2 inches of stem with the leaves removed. A bare stem with no leaves at the bottom, when placed in the soil, will help the cutting to retain moisture.

4 Your cuttings should be healthy in appearance and at least 5 inches long

Your rosemary cuttings should be healthy in appearance and at least 5 inches long. Make sure to only ever take rosemary cuttings from fresh, softwood with green leaves. These are more likely to succeed than older, brown or hardwood cuttings. 

With the knife cut away the base of the stem just below the lowest rosemary leaf node. Dip the exposed end in hormone rooting powder. Dipping cuttings into hormone rooting powder helps to speed up the rooting process. However it is not necessary for successful propagation.

Insert the cuttings around the edge of the container. If you are using a modular seed tray place one rosemary cutting in each module.

Caring for Your Cuttings

Water well and place the cuttings in a cold frame or greenhouse. This should be located in a sheltered, shaded area. You can also place the cuttings in an indoor propagator or a plastic bag. Protecting the cuttings in this way shelters them from extreme temperature changes. It also helps the soil mix to retain moisture.

Regularly mist the cuttings. Don’t let the soil dry out but also make sure the soil is well drained.

After a couple of weeks check the cuttings for signs of root development. This can be done by either gently pulling the cuttings, feeling for resistance or carefully pulling away the sides of the container near the cutting and looking for any signs of root development.

As soon as roots have formed apply a diluted, general purpose fertilizer solution. Gritty cutting compost mixtures contain few, if any, nutrients. Applying a diluted dose helps to encourage healthy growth.

Once a healthy root system has been established, gently remove each cutting from the container. Pot the cuttings into their own pots. This can be filled with a loam based or general purpose compost. John Innes No 2 is an ideal choice.

Continue to keep the young plants well watered with well drained soil. As the cuttings continue to grow into and their root systems fill the container, make sure to pot them on into larger containers.

Come next spring your cuttings should be large enough to plant outside in a herb or container garden. Remember to harden off your plants as the last local frost date approaches. Then, as the soil and temperature warms up, transplant into their final position.

How to Propagate Rosemary Cuttings in Water

Propagating in water is just as easy and reliable as placing your cuttings into the soil. However if you place the cuttings in a clear vase or glass you will be able to watch the roots emerge. This is a great way to interest children in gardening.

Take and prepare the cuttings as above.

Place the prepared cuttings in a jar of fresh water. The water should be room temperature. Put the jar in a warm location, away from direct sunlight.

Regularly check the cuttings. You will also need to change the water every other day. Providing fresh water helps to dissolve oxygen, this prevents the cuttings from rotting or root rot.

After a couple of weeks you will notice roots emerging from the cuttings. This may take longer if the cuttings are situated in a cooler location. Within 4-8 weeks you will be able to gauge whether the cuttings are successful. Failed cuttings will turn brown and shed their needles. Healthy cuttings will be green and may have roots emerging.

5 The needle like foliage of the cuttings will remain green and healthy if your cuttings are thriving
The needle like foliage of the rosemary cuttings will remain green and healthy if your cuttings are thriving. As the rosemary plants grow more foliage will emerge, branching off from the central stem. Cuttings that are failing will turn brown and drop their needles. 

Once a healthy root system has emerged pot the cuttings in 4 inch containers filled with a sandy soil mix. A cactus potting soil can also be used. Place the containers somewhere where the cuttings can receive lots of indirect light. Slowly expose the plants to direct light. Regularly water the cuttings of the rosemary plants, keeping the soil moist.

Allow the young rosemary plants to grow on until the rosemary plants are large enough to transplant into their permanent positions.

How to Care for Rosemary Plants

If your attempt at propagating plants is successful you will now have a collection of healthy, young plants. Caring for these correctly will help to ensure that they will grow into robust plants.

In general caring for these plants is the same as caring for any Mediterranean herb. Like other Mediteranean herbs, these plants thrive in full sun. Aim to place them somewhere where they will receive 6-8 hours of direct full sun light each day during the summer months.

Regularly water your rosemary plants. Established rosemary plants like the soil slightly dry. Wait until the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Then water the container until water drips from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Repot the rosemary plants regularly as they fill their containers. This helps the rosemary plants to continue growing and remain healthy.

Prune regularly. The more these plants are pruned the bushier their growth habit becomes. Pruning after flowering will help the plant to maintain a compact shape.

Tips for Overwintering Plants Indoors

A hardy evergreen if temperatures remain over 55 ℉, gardeners in cooler USDA zones will need to shelter the plants during the winter months. If you take the rosemary plant into your home in the fall remember to keep them away from houseplants. This prevents pests and diseases from spreading to more delicate plants.

Place the rosemary plant in a light location such as a south facing windowsill. You can also place them under grow lights. Remember to water the soil regularly. Misting will help to keep the soil evenly moist while also maintaining humidity levels with good air circulation. Finally these rosemary plants like slightly cooler temperatures – during the winter months, 60-65 ℉. If the air circulation is poor, your rosemary plant may develop powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungus that may develop on your rosemary plant when the air is stale.

6 Attractive and aromatic learning how to propagate rosemary enables you to fill your garden with this popular plantAttractive and aromatic, learning how to propagate rosemary enables you to fill your garden with this popular rosemary plant. Doing so will not only benefit other plants in your garden as rosemary is a reliable companion plant, but it will also attract pollinators while providing you with hours of aromatic and attractive pleasure. 

Now that you know how to propagate rosemary plant you will be able to fill containers, beds or herb spirals with this attractive plant. Remember that as well as its culinary uses, fragrant aroma and attractive foliage rosemary is also a reliable companion plant. For all these reasons learning how to propagate rosemary is a great way to spend an afternoon. It is also a great way to start a herb garden. With a little practice you will be able to fill your garden with this aromatic little plant.

How to Propagate Rosemary cover image