Rosemary is one of the most popular culinary herbs. It can be used to season so many dishes including poultry, soups, stews, lamb and even craft cocktails. This herb is used in many Italian and French recipes. Growing rosemary is quite easy, so make sure to have it in your herb garden.
This herb can live for a long time, up to 30 years! And did you know rosemary has many medicinal benefits as well? With several varieties of rosemary to choose from, you have no excuse to start planting.
How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings
It is easier to start growing rosemary from cuttings. All you need is sharp scissors to cut a piece of a rosemary plant that is about 5-6 inches (12-15 centimeters) long. Remove the bottom leaves and place it in a glass of water where it gets indirect sunlight. Once you see that the roots start to grow, transplant the cutting into a pot with potting mix.
You can also grow the rosemary cutting in a potting mix such as perlite or vermiculite. Remove lower leaves and flowers. You can dip the cutting in rooting hormone if you want, but its not necessary and not organic if you do so. When using rooting hormone, you should make a hole and place the cutting to cover it with soil.
Water the plant only when it is dry and place it in a spot where it gets 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight. It will take about two weeks to start growing. Allow the plant to reach 6 inches (15 centimeters) before harvesting.
How to Grow Rosemary from Seeds
Growing rosemary from seeds requires patience since seeds are slow to germinate (2-3 weeks) and have a low germination rate of about 15%. Another thing to note is that they often don’t grow true to the parent plant, unlike cuttings. Plant seeds in a seed tray or three inch peat pots. Gently place several seeds in each compartment. Mist seeds with water to keep them damp.
Rosemary plants from seeds take between 6-15 months to be ready for harvest. Keep in mind when growing rosemary that it grows slow the first year, then it bursts the following years.
How to Grow Rosemary in a Pot
When growing rosemary it is important to get a pot that has a diameter of at least 12 inches (30 centimeters) to have enough space for the roots to grow. It also needs holes in order to drain the soil. Rosemary does not do well in soggy soil, so a porous Terra-cotta pot is ideal. Water the plant when the soil feels dry and do not place the pot in a container with water. Over-watering will kill your rosemary plant.
The easiest option is to buy a rosemary plant from a nursery and transplant it in a container. You will be able to harvest this plant in about three months. Seeds are difficult to grow and cuttings take time. This Mediterranean plant needs sun, so you should pick a sunny location. It does not do well in the cold so bring it inside before the first frosts or simply grow it as an annual herb from spring to autumn.
Growing rosemary in a pot doesn’t require much fertilizer, but you can always apply a little liquid fertilizer to the pot. Trim your plant so it gets bushy. Rosemary in a pot will grow between 1-3 feet. When the roots fill the container, it is time to replant it in the garden or a bigger pot.
How to Take Care of Rosemary
This herb comes from the Mediterranean Sea, so it needs hot weather. Growing rosemary is ideal for zones 7-11 if you live in the United States. Under optimal conditions, rosemary can grow quite vigorously, up to 5 feet tall. It likes warm weather that is not too humid or too dry. Soil should be loamy or sandy and well drained. Soil needs to have a pH between 6.0-7.0, ranging from slightly acidic to neutral. This plant is tolerant of salt spray, so its a great option for those who live by the sea.
Growing rosemary requires at least six hours of full sunlight per day. Allow soil to dry before watering. This herb does not need much fertilizer. If you want, add some compost, low-nitrogen fertilizer or fish emulsion. Remember that this herb, unlike many others, is an evergreen so pick a good spot to plant it and leave it.
When growing rosemary you want to make sure it does not get too woody, so you cut about a third of the plant at once to allow it to regrow. Make sure to cut the soft stems instead of the lower woody branches. Flowers are white, blue and purple, and are quite popular with bees (who make delicious rosemary honey) and other pollinators.
Rosemary is a great companion plant to sage, broccoli, carrots, cabbage and beans. Do not plant next to tomatoes or other herbs. Its fragrance is said to repel maggot flies, cabbage flies and other flying pests.
Rosemary Pests and Diseases
Rosemary has few problems with pests and diseases. Pay attention to your rosemary plant, if it starts discoloring then it could be a sign of certain small pests. Aphids and whiteflies attack most plants, especially those that grow inside or in greenhouses. These little insects suck the life out of your plants and need to be sprayed off with water. Use neem oil to prevent their following attacks.
If you don’t see any pests, then it could be a fungus or bacteria. When growing rosemary, make sure not to over-water the soil and keep plenty of air circulation. Root rot with kill your plant, since it will become limp and die. Roots will be unable to move nutrients and water to the plant. Throw away the plant if the entire root system is black and mushy. Otherwise you can cut and prune the infected roots, then place an organic fungicide powder.
Powdery mildew is a white powder that coats the leaves of your plant. This is contagious if it turns severe, but usually won’t kill your plant. Just trim the affected areas and use an organic fungicide spray like neem. You can also do a mixture of water and baking soda to fight off the fungus.
Avoid watering plants from overhead to prevent leaf spot that is also caused by fungal or bacterial pathogens. Blight infection is another problem when growing rosemary, which can cause yellow spots and patchy leaf growth. Prune the plant so it has better circulation, move it to a sunny spot and make sure the humidity is not too high.
Harvest and Store Rosemary
Cut fresh rosemary (at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) long) and hang it in the kitchen for it to air dry. You can use a rubber band or ribbon to tie them; another alternative is to put the leaves in a brown paper bag. If you have a dehydrator, you can place rosemary at 100F (37 C) for one to four hours. Make sure to check so leaves don’t become too dry. After, store in an airtight container. Young rosemary stems and leaves have better taste.
It is also possible to freeze rosemary by putting it in the freezer for three hours, then storing it an air tight ziplock bag.