Many gardeners around the world grow rosemary each year. It’s a truly remarkable and attractive herb that offers year-round garden splendor, a delightful fragrance, and excellent flavor. Here are some growing tips to ensure you always have rosemary on hand.
You can grow rosemary from seeds and stem cuttings. However, the herb will only thrive if you plant it in well-drained, compost-enriched soil with a pH of 6 to 7 and a spot with 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. Also, remember to always water the plant well every day.
Let’s get into the details and find out how to prep your soil for growing rosemary and how to plant it. We’ll also learn how to harvest the aromatic plant and cap things off by looking at its various uses.
Does Rosemary Grow Well in Any Climate?
Rosemary thrives in a Mediterranean climate with enough sunlight, sandy, well-draining soils, and temperatures that don’t fall below 30℉.
During the winter, it prefers cooler temperatures of 60-65℉ during the day and 40-50℉ at night with little to no frosting. However, rosemary will grow well in just about any climate, provided it’s not too wet, cold, or humid.
How Do You Prep Your Soil For Growing Rosemary?
Rosemary prefers well-drained soil with a pH of between 6 and 7. So make amends if your soil hasn’t hit the mark. You can also improve your soil by adding and mixing in aged composed-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil (on Amazon).
When it comes to potted rosemary, you’ll need a lighter-weight soil mix, so fill containers with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Container Mix (on Amazon). Keep the soil uniformly moist but also allow it to dry between waterings.
How to Plant Rosemary
You can plant and grow rosemary from seeds and stem cuttings. Let’s look at how to do so for both.
Growing Rosemary from Seeds
Rosemary seeds stand a chance of thriving if you grow them indoors. However, since the seeds germinate and grow slowly, start them 3-6 months prior to the growing season. To plant the rosemary seeds:
- Choose a suitable container. You can use small pots or egg cartons, but it would be best to go for a seed-starting tray with a plastic humidity dome.
- Prepare a seed-starting mix by creating a blend with equal parts peat moss and perlite. Alternatively, you can buy a sterile, soilless seed-starting mix. Lightly water the mixture, then add it to your container.
- Add 3-4 rosemary seeds to the seed-starting mix. Cover the seeds with some of the mix but not so much that they can’t get sunlight.
- Lightly water the seeds using a spray bottle, ensuring the surface is moist but not soaking wet. This will help the seeds settle into the mix. Cover the container with the plastic dome or if your container doesn’t have one, use plastic wrap.
- Put the container in a sunny, warm location until it germinates. If you can’t find a warm, sunny area, you can use an indoor full-spectrum light and a heat mat to achieve a similar result.
- If the top layer of the seed-starting mix looks dry, remove the plastic cover or dome and lightly wet it.
- The germination process usually takes 2-4 weeks. Once the seedling appears, remove the plastic cover and put the seed-starting tray in a shallow water tray in direct light. Water will seep into the soil through the container’s drainage holes.
- Once the seedlings are 3-6 inches tall, transplant them outdoors and plant them in compost-rich soil with exceptional drainage in a location where they receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Growing Rosemary From Stem Cuttings
Rosemary seeds have a low germination rate and grow slowly, so the easiest way to grow new rosemary plants is by using stem cuttings. The stem cuttings mature in a few months, allowing you to harvest rosemary faster than if you started from seeds. To plant the cuttings:
- Use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to snip the stem of a mature rosemary plant five to six inches from the tip. Ensure you cut from the soft, flexible new branches.
- Gently strip off the lower leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting.
- Put the cuttings in a jar of water and move it to a warm area with enough sunlight. Then, replace the old water with fresh water every 2-3 days.
- The roots will start to grow after a few weeks, but it could take longer if the jar is in a cool place. When the roots develop around the base of the cuttings, it’s time to plant them.
- Plant each stem cutting in a tiny container containing a sandy soil mix with good drainage. To avoid damaging the roots when planting the cuttings, make a three-inch hole in the soil and carefully place them.
- Backfill the hole and water generously to moisten the soil.
- Care for the potted cuttings and water them whenever the surface soil dries. When you spot new growth, pull the cuttings gently. If you feel resistance, the cuttings are rooted and ready for transplanting.
- Transplant your rosemary plants to your garden bed. Plant them in compost-rich soil with good drainage. Additionally, pick a location where they’ll receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
How to Harvest and Store Rosemary
Harvest rosemary by snipping springs with kitchen scissors or pruners. You’ll notice that new growth is lighter green and flexible while older growth is darker and woodier. You can harvest and use either, but new growth may be more fragrant and easier to chop.
Pull the needles (leaves) in the opposite direction they’re growing to strip them from the stems. They’ll come off easily that way.
Next, bundle the rosemary needles, chop them roughly, air-dry them, and store them in an airtight container in the cupboard.
Ways to Use Rosemary
You can use rosemary for several purposes, including:
- Horticulture: Rosemary is beautiful and relatively easy to grow, making it a popular ornamental garden plant. Some people use it to attract honey bees for pollination in their gardens.
- Cooking: Rosemary is an excellent seasoning for stews, soups, sauces, and meat dishes. It’s also a well-liked ingredient in tea and makes a sweet dressing for bread when you add it to olive oil.
- Fragrance: Its distinctive aroma makes it an excellent ingredient in perfumes, soaps, and shampoos.
- Medicinal: Rosemary is among the first herbs people used medicinally. It offers numerous health benefits, such as treating colds, flu, and fatigue. It also boosts circulation, relieves headaches, and helps in digestion.