Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a small evergreen flavorful, and fragrant herb of the mint family. You can grow Rosemary from cuttings or seeds.
Initial development of roots for Rosemary can be done in water or in the potting mix. Once the roots form, it can be planted in a garden or container.
If you are growing in USDA Hardiness zones 8 or warmer, it can be planted in a garden to let it grow up to 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide depending upon the variety.
But, if you are gardening in colder zones, prefer growing it in containers so that it can be taken inside during winter to keep it alive.
If you have a rosemary plant already established, you can use its cutting to propagate numerous plants. Propagating is growing plants by cutting a piece of a mother plant. The new plant will be a clone of the mother plant.
If you try this method, you can have loads of new plants within a couple of months.
Benefits of Growing Rosemary from cuttings
It is preferable to grow Rosemary from stem cuttings over growing it from seeds. Let us look at some of the benefits below:
1. Faster Growth
A rosemary plant that is rooted from a cutting will mature faster than a plant grown from seeds. Seeds of Rosemary have a low germination rate and take a long time to sprout.
Here is the comparison of the usual harvest time
- Using Nursery plant – 3 months
- Using Stem Cuttings – 8 to 12 months
- Growing from Seeds – 15 – 16 months
2. Clone of Mother Plant
A rosemary plant rooted from a stem cutting will be the same as the mother plant with the same flavor, disease resistance capacity, and growth.
3. Extra Plants
One rosemary plant can provide numerous cuttings without risking the mother plant. You can grow many plants in your kitchen garden, and they will spread an amazing fragrance when you rub your hands against them.
Ingredients to grow a Rosemary from cuttings:
- Rosemary Stem Cutting
- Rooting Hormone Powder (optional)
- Vermiculite & Perlite
- Sharp Scissors
Steps to grow Rosemary from cuttings
The best time in the year to grow rosemary is late spring to early summer. The steps to growing rosemary from stem cuttings are listed below:
Step1: Select a fresh and healthy stem
Select the freshly grown and healthy stems and try to avoid the older brown and woody ones, as they don’t root well.
If you want to grow a variety of Rosemary that you haven’t seen in your locality, you can order online or ask your nursery to get one for you. There are numerous varieties of rosemary with slightly different properties.
Step 2: Cutting off the stems
For cutting stems, use sharp scissors and cut a stem about 5-6 inches long. You can draw some extra stem cuttings for the backup as few may fail to grow roots.
Every cutting of rosemary has the potential to grow into a new plant.
Step 3: Removal of lower leaves
Clench your fingers around the stem, gently start stripping the leaves from bottom to top and leave the foliage only on the top 1.5 to 2 inches part of the stem. You should leave at least 5 to 6 leaves remaining on the stem.
Roots will grow from the strip-off part of the stem.
A pro tip – Don’t waste the leaves. I always find an interesting food recipe and relish a dish garnished with Rosemary.
Want to Grow Basil from Cuttings – Read here
Step 4: Root Development
For Rosemary, the initial root development from stem cuttings can happen in water or in small pots. Let us look at growing Rosemary from cuttings using both of the methods below.
Rosemary Root Development in Water
Stick the stem cutting in a jar-like container filled with water and place the jar in a warm place that is not receiving direct sunlight.
You should ensure that leaves don’t get in contact with water else they will rot. Leaves should ideally be 2 inches above water level.
Replace the water every few days or a minimum twice a week. Fresh Water will provide dissolved oxygen and prevents the stem cutting from rotting.
Depending upon the environment and temperature, you should see roots on each stem in roughly 5 to 8 weeks. If you keep them in cooler temperatures, it takes more time for roots to grow.
When you notice 4 to 6 roots that are about half inches long, you know that your plant has become ready to be planted into a pot.
- In approximately one week, you can start seeing the roots emerging.
- The Stem cuttings that have turned brown will not grow. You would need to throw them and focus your time and energy on the ones that will grow.
Rosemary Root Development in Small Pots
Roots of Rosemary can also be grown by planting them directly in small pots of about 4 – 5 inches. The best potting mixture for propagating rosemary is one with good drainage. We would recommend a 50:50 ratio of vermiculite and perlite.
Cuttings can develop roots on their own but if you want higher chances of faster growth, dip them in Rooting Hormone Powder before planting. Though if you use it, do not consume this Rosemary for 8 to 12 months.
Plant the lower leafless end of the stem into the potting mix. The better way to slide the cuttings is by making a 3 – 4 inch hole into the soil with a pencil or dibber and then putting the stem.
Press the soil above gently so that stem has good contact with the potting mixture and then water it well. Rosemary thrives in moist soil.
In about 3 – 4 weeks some root growth would happen and in about 5 – 8 weeks, sufficient root development would happen for you to transplant your Rosemary into the garden or larger pot.
You can gently invert pots and check for signs of root development.
Step 5: Re-Potting the cuttings
Once the root development has happened, you can shift from a water jar or small pot to larger pots having loam-based compost.
Place the newly potted plant in indirect or filtered sunlight until the roots establish. Once they do, move it to a place that gets direct sunlight for 6-8 hours every day. Keep the soil moist until the growth is visible.
Once the plant has further grown up to 6-inches tall, you can start harvesting by cutting the stems. They grow slowly, so avoid harvesting more than 1/3rd of the plant at one time.
Tips for Taking care of Rosemary plant
The plantation process of Rosemary is done, now, it’s time to take proper care of your plant. Some tips to keep the plant healthy are:
1. Grow the plant in sunlight
Once the plant is rooted, keep it in direct sunlight for 6-8 hours every day. This would include summers as well.
2. Watering of the Plant
Until the plant starts to show any growth signs, keep watering it to keep the soil moist. But as you start to see the signs of growth, you should slow down.
Rosemary thrives in relatively dry soil. So you should let the top surface become dry and then water it thoroughly.
3. Re-pot the plant
Rosemary can grow to a large plant that can extend up to 1 – 3 feet high.
This means that your new larger pot would become smaller one day when the root fills this pot completely.
Keep transplanting your plant to larger containers for continuous growth.
4. Prune the plant frequently
To keep the plant bushier, keep trimming it from time to time.
Caring for Rosemary when Growing it indoors during Winter
Rosemary prefers growing in a hot, sunny, and humid atmosphere. But, yes it is possible to keep your plant alive indoors during winter.
Below are a few factors and tips for better growth of Rosemary while growing indoors.
- In most homes, the indoor-heating systems dry out the air and drop the humidity. You can compensate it by running a humidifier.
- Filling of drip trays under your plant with stones and with some water in the trays. Evaporation increases the humidity in the air.
- If the plants are getting dried, a quick spray once or twice a day may solve this problem.
- You don’t need to increase the humidity too much, increasing the humidity to 45-55 percent is enough to increase the amount of heat the air holds.
Your plant should receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight during the summer. It is best to place your plant near a south-facing window for light.
Too much moisture or dryness can rot your plant.
- Water when the soil feels dry out at the surface.
- Try to water evenly.
- Be sure that the pot or container in which the plant is rooted drains out the extra water.
Rosemary cannot survive below 30 degrees F or -1 degree C. Thus you need to keep them inside if it starts freezing outside.