By: Heather Rhoades
The piney scent of a rosemary plant is a favorite of many gardeners. This semi hardy shrub can be grown as hedges and edging in areas that are USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6 or higher. In other zones, this herb makes a delightful annual in the herb garden or can be grown in pots and brought indoors. You can propagate rosemary from either rosemary seeds, rosemary cuttings, or layering. Let’s look at how.
Rosemary cuttings are the most common way to propagate rosemary.
Propagating a rosemary plant through layering is much like doing so through rosemary cuttings, except the “cuttings” stay attached to the mother plant.
Rosemary is not typically propagated from rosemary seeds due to the fact that they are difficult to germinate.
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Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, is an evergreen bush, used as a culinary herb. The bushes
A rosemary bush in flower. http://www.gardenaction.co.uk[/caption%5D
grow anywhere from two to six feet tall, have pale blue flowers, and leaves that are reminiscent
of pine needles. In warmer climates, rosemary can be used in the landscape year round. Rosemary is only hardy to about zero degrees Fahrenheit, so in colder climates (zone 6 and below) it’s best to plant your rosemary in containers that can be moved indoors or easily covered when temperatures drop. Or, just treat it as an annual and replace the plants every year.
Rosemary originated in the Mediterranean, and around the 8th century, rosemary was brought to England by the Romans and further spread throughout Europe by Charlemagne. This herb was considered lucky and was put in bouquets at weddings, and was also thought to combat diseases such as the plague. In the kitchen, rosemary pairs well with poultry, lamb, and root vegetables.
Because rosemary is not winter hardy in many areas, and because it can be difficult for gardeners to keep plants alive from year to year, this herb is frequently started from seed each year and used as an annual plant. Here are outlined the steps to successfully propagating rosemary from seed at home.
Step 1: Fill containers with a very well draining potting mix, like sand or vermiculite. A light potting mix can also be used. Slightly moisten the media.
Step 2: Place the seeds onto the damp media and cover with a bit more media. Note that rosemary does not have as good of a germination rate as some other herbs and takes a long time to germinate. It is a good idea to plant more seeds than you need, and seeds should be started around 3 months before they will be placed outside.
Step 3: Place your containers either in a warm location or onto a heat mat. To increase
Only a heat mat intended for seed germination should be used in this situation. A regular heating pad should not be substituted. http://www.greenhouses-etc.net[/caption%5D
humidity, cover the containers with plastic wrap. When the seedlings appear, you can remove the plastic.
Step 4: The seedlings should be kept inside or in a sheltered outdoor area. When they are large enough, (around three inches tall) the seedlings can be planted outside or transplanted into a bigger container. Just make sure the soil is well drained.
Rosemary can also be easily propagated with via the cutting method. In fact, some growers prefer this method as it can actually take less time to establish plants as opposed to sowing seeds. Plants that are established from cuttings are also identical to their parent plants, which is not always the case with seed grown plants.
Step 1: Take your cutting from the new growth of a healthy and disease free plants. Remove the
Rosemary cutting with leaves removed and wounded to increase wounding. http://www.ourfairfieldhomeandgarden.com[/caption%5D
leaves from the bottom portion of the cutting. Wounding the cutting by removing a strip of bark from its side is optional, but the cutting should be dipped into hormone to improve rooting.
Step 2: Stick your cutting into dampened, well drained media. Sand, vermiculite, or light potting mix are good choices. Place your cutting in a warm location or onto a heat mat, in ample sunlight. Make sure that the cutting and media do not dry out.
Step 3: Your cuttings should have roots in about 2 to 3 weeks. Once the roots have developed, the new plants can be transplanted to bigger pots or planted directly into the ground.
Upkeep and Problems
No matter which method you choose to propagate your rosemary plants, the end upkeep requirements are the same. Rosemary does not usually need a lot of fertilizer, however, fish emulsion in foliar sprays can be beneficial.
Make sure that whether your plants are in the ground or in containers that they receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. If you bring your rosemary indoors for winter, (which you should when the temperatures drop to around 30 degrees) they will still need the same amount of light. In some cases, supplemental lighting may be necessary.
Rosemary also needs good air circulation. If this requirement is not met, powdery mildew can be a serious problem for both indoor and outdoor plants, although it’s more likely to affect indoor plants. The best way to prevent this problem is to reduce humidity–expose the plants to sunlight, lengthen time between waterings, or even run a fan on the plant if you have to. Also keep an eye out for mites on your indoor plants.
Potted rosemary plants can also run into the problem of becoming root-bound. Luckily this is a pretty easy fix. Remove the plant from its pot, and simply put it in fresh media in a bigger pot. If the bush is already large, you can trim the roots and branches to maintain its current size.
Rosemary is a great garden plant, offering beauty in the landscape and versatility in the kitchen. Although it can be finicky to get going, with proper care, your rosemary bushes will thrive.
Hartmann, Hudson T. Hartmann & Kester’s Plant Propagation Principles and Practices. 8th ed. Pearson, 2014. Print.
“Herb Profiles: Rosemary.” Herb Information Site RSS. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
“How to Grow Rosemary from Seed.” – Burpee.com. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
Ianotti, Marie. “Growing and Caring for Rosemary Plants – Indoors and Out.” About. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. .
A second way to start new Rosemary plants is to grow cuttings in soil or a soilless potting mix, such vermiculite or perlite. This will ensure the cuttings develop a healthy root system.
|Family:||Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)|
|Genus:||Salvia (SAL-vee-uh) (Info)|
|Species:||rosmarinus (rose-ma-REE-nus) (Info)|
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From hardwood heel cuttings
By stooling or mound layering
Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Knights Landing, California
Silver Spring, Maryland(2 reports)
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Great Cacapon, West Virginia
On Mar 9, 2021, Uapiti from Spokane, WA wrote:
I was unsure about growing rosemary in Spokane (zone 6b), but have had great luck with Rosemary Arp. I have tried other varieties but none have survives our winters. I planted two arps in 2016, one is in a somewhat protected spot and the other is in a more exposed location. I protected them with blankets for the first couple of years when temps dropped into single digits, and they survived with only a few brown tips. Both plants are still alive, large, and very healthy!
On Oct 9, 2014, clairesn from Germantown, TN wrote:
In zone 7b/8 Memphis, mine wintered over fine for two years before the unusually cold winter in 2013-14. It looked like it died last winter, but the plant actually survived. I had to cut it down to bare stems about 10 inches tall to get past the dead parts, but it has regrown nicely (and in a better shape) since spring. This winter is also expected to be colder than normal, so it will likely take a hit again. It is planted in a raised brick garden about 2" above ground level, but is shielded from north and south winds by houses. Somewhat sheltered, but not entirely. Gets lots of afternoon sun. I have seen rosemary planted as foundation hedges around town. With our Memphis clay soil, I'd recommend amending the soil with lots of sand or other material to facilitate drainage and planting in t. read more he driest, sunniest spot available.
On Jun 21, 2011, cloverlymd from Silver Spring, MD wrote:
'Arp' has good scent and flavor, and is reliably hardy in the Washington-Balto. suburbs. In my experience it needs to be replaced after 5-7 years as it begins to suffer significant winter damage when it gets big/old enough.
On Apr 10, 2011, plants4u from Puyallup, WA wrote:
In October of 2010 I planted a #1 size pot of 'Arp' rosemary in a large planter along with some ornamental cabbage. The end of November brought us a severe cold snap that plunged our area into low single digit temps. for 2 to 3 nights. Amazingly this cultivar was unscathed by this freeze that has caused much damage to plants around our area. Plus one for 'Arp'.
On May 22, 2009, val0822 from Media, PA wrote:
About 10 years ago bought a rosemary plant off the sale table just for the summer. It survived much longer than I expected then 2 harsh winters finally killed it. Replaced it with the 'Arp' strain which (according to the vendor) is more winter-hardy. So far it's doing very well. Pretty flowers and to me tastes the same.
On Oct 21, 2008, Spookycharles from Langley, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:
This hardy rosemary is by far the most reliable variety for western Washington winters. I have multiple 'Arp' plants and have never had notable winter damage on any of them even through nasty excessively wet and cold winters.
These are strong shrubs that do get large with time, take well to pruning and are incredible as a culinary rosemary. I have found that some 'Arp's are inclined to grow at more of an angle than some other rosemary plants and, if left to their own devices, with age frequently take on more of a sweeping form than a ridge, upright one.
On Jun 9, 2007, aasalas from Lewes, DE (Zone 7b) wrote:
We love this plant, which grows beautiful in the sandy soil here in Lewes, DE. Ours is used as an informal hedge in front of our porch--running along the sidewalk--and almost everyone who walks by rubs the foliage, releasing the wonderful scent. This past year the plants bloomed exhuberantly, first from early November thru much of January, then again from late February through March (with some blooming even into April). Many neighbors in town commented on it! The soil where we planted them is almost pure, unamended sand, which was what was left after our house was built. Except for the first summer, we don't water them at all. The picture I've posted is a couple of years old they are now at least two or three times that size (i'll try to remember to post a new shot soon). I show a view . read more from a distance, because I don't think many people realize what a wonderful landscape plant this can be in the right place. Ours forms a wonderfully irregular, "beachy" hedge.
On Jun 27, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:
Many rosemarys do not winter well for me. I put arp in a very sheltered , well draining site with a cloche and it overwintered just fine. This winter also had a few severe (in the 10s and teens is severe to us) cold snaps. I recommend it for people who have trouble overwintering rosemary. It is a little slow to recover after winter damage but does just fine. :)
On Jun 5, 2005, Gindee77 from Hampton, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:
This is an annual here in zone 5 but it's worth getting each year for the uses it has in the kitchen. It can also be brought in to over-winter in the house, in a sunny window. It makes a great seasoning for Italian foods and is greatly aromatic in homemade potpourri.