Rosemary is a perennial in USDA zone 8 or warmer and is one of my favorite versatile herbs to cook with due to its aroma and flavor. Learning how to grow rosemary in your own herb garden is so easy. It’s not hardy in colder climates, but it is easy to grow in a pot and bring indoors during the winter months. You can learn how to grow rosemary even if you are a total beginner to herb gardening. In fact, rosemary plants are more likely to suffer from too much attention than from too little so if you have a history of killing your fresh herb plants, this is a great place to start.
Rosemary plant care is simple and breaks down to three fundamentals – sun, drainage, and air circulation. If you live in a temperate frost-free climate rosemary can be grown outside year round where it grows into a bushy flowery shrub. To keep rosemary happy and healthy, provide a sandy, well-draining soil and at least 6-8 hours of full sunlight per day.
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How to grow rosemary plants
As a seasoning, rosemary is a very versatile herb and complements meats, vegetables, and bread. I often use it to season asparagus and it’s one of my favorite spring side dishes. It is usually propagated by cuttings but you can also buy rosemary seeds or small seedling plants at a nursery or garden store. Seeds can be difficult to germinate so I recommend starting with a small plant unless you’re willing to be patient with your seeds and enjoy the challenge. 😉
How to propagate rosemary
To propagate a rosemary cutting:
- Snip approximately a 2-inch cutting from the new growth of an established rosemary plant.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom inch and dip into a rooting hormone.
- Place the end into a container of dampened, seed starting mix. Look for a mix that is loose and contains vermiculite.
- Place the container in a warm location with indirect sunlight.
- Daily, mist the cuttings so the soil doesn’t get too dry.
- After 2-3 weeks, very gently tug on the cuttings to test root growth.
- After confirming your cuttings have roots, transplant the seedlings into individual 3 – 4 inch pots.
- Pinch the top of the cutting so it develops branches.
How to grow rosemary in a pot
If you live in a climate that reaches below-freezing temperatures rosemary must be grown in pots and moved inside during the winter months. Rosemary must be moved inside before first frost or when temperatures reach 34°F. Your rosemary plant can be moved back outdoors after your last frost and once all danger of frost has passed.
As with most potted plants, the soil in your pot is going to degenerate through watering and root growth so you should plan to re-pot your plant at least once a year. It’s time to re-pot your rosemary plant when it has had considerable growth, looks like it isn’t getting enough water, or has outgrown its pot. To maintain the size of your rosemary plant, prune the roots by snipping off a couple of inches from the bottom and sides of the root ball then replanting. It’s also a good idea to trim a little from the top of the root ball to lessen the stress placed on the trimmed plant.
Potential problems when growing rosemary
The biggest problem you’re likely to face while growing rosemary indoors is its tendency to develop powdery mildew – a white, powdery fungus that develops if the surrounding air is humid and/or there’s not enough air movement. It won’t kill the rosemary plant, but it will weaken it considerably. You can keep the humidity low by allowing the soil to slightly dry between waterings, keeping the plant in sunlight and running a fan for a few hours a day to create a gentle breeze. Avoid keeping the plant too close to a window to get sunlight as freezing temperatures from drafty windows can damage the plant.