How to Grow Rosemary

Rosemary plants are fairly hardy and easy to care for. Popular in the kitchen, rosemary also has a variety of uses outside of the kitchen. It can also be used to make tea, soap, shampoo, creams and lotions. It also has many health benefits including memory enhancement. Here’s how to grow rosemary from seeds or cuttings.

Rosemary seeds germinate best in soil around 70° F. Plant them indoors 8 weeks prior to the last frost in your area to get a head start on the growing season. Transplant them outside once temperatures rise and all danger of frost has passed. Grow them year round indoors in containers. In hardiness zones 8-10, you can grow rosemary outdoors year round.

Rosemary does best with full exposure to the sun. Be sure it gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, though it can handle partial shade (it just won’t be as plentiful). For outdoors, hardiness zones 6-9 are best. Rosemary can be grown indoors year round in containers. For garden growing, rosemary may grow up to 4 feet high and equally as wide.

Companion plant rosemary with beans, carrots, cabbage and sage. The aroma will keep pests at bay.

Rosemary likes a fast draining, sandy loam. Avoid potting mixes with lots of peat moss which makes for an acidic soil and rosemary likes a neutral to slightly alkaline pH (6.0-8.0). Rosemary can also grow in a gravel mix or rock garden.

Rosemary can be grown from seeds or cuttings. Seeds can be difficult to propagate and grow very slowly so we recommend purchasing a seedling from a reputable source for best results. Space seedlings 1-2 feet apart when growing as annuals or 4 feet apart when growing as perennials. Containers should be at least 12 inches wide and deep.

You can also sprout a stem cutting in water or in a sprouting mix (root-inducing powder) and then transplant once it has become established. Rosemary transplants relatively easily but be sure to limit the risk of transplant shock by planting into moist soil and hardening the plant off if you are growing it outdoors. Assimilate the plant gradually to outside temperatures and conditions for about a week before transplanting into the ground.

Water regularly and evenly throughout the growing season. Let the soil dry out before watering again. Rosemary can handle a little drought but won’t stand soggy roots.

Trim your rosemary plants after flowering and prune often when not harvesting to keep the plant from growing unruly or getting too lanky. This will also provide plenty of space for good aeration.

Harvest as soon as the plant becomes well established. Never harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at once. Clip 3-6 inches from one branch at a time as opposed to smaller clippings from throughout the plant. For best flavor, harvest just before the plant’s flowers bloom.

Healthy rosemary plants can survive the winter but heavy snow can be problematic for long branches.

Do you have tips on how to grow rosemary? Let us know in the comments section below.

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