Rosemary is a perennial plant, which means that it will come back year after year – this means that eventually, it can get quite large.
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, remember to leave one square foot of soil in your garden per rosemary plant.
Square Foot Gardening
There’s nothing more simple and attractive in a garden than square-foot gardening. If you haven’t heard of square-foot gardening, it’s really very simple. The garden bed is on a raised box that is split into evenly spaced plots of one square foot.
This is a great way to not only stay organized with your garden but a great way to ensure that the plants get the nutrients and care they need to thrive while ensuring that your garden is efficient.
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What Is Rosemary?
Rosemary is a member of the sage family, and it is an evergreen plant.
When it flowers in spring and early summer, it produces tiny flowers that are usually blue or purple, but sometimes they can be white or pink.
The stems have a strong aroma, and rosemary sprigs and needles are often used in many cuisines, most notably in Italian and Spanish cuisine.
Although rosemary is a beloved herb in cuisines all around the world.
Its name comes from the Latin ros marinus, which means “dew of the sea”. Its Latin name makes sense when you consider that rosemary is native to the Mediterranean.
Rosemary has a strong aroma and a strong flavor.
It is classified as an herb when used for cooking because one uses the leaves (or needles) for its flavor, whereas a spice is a plant’s seeds used to flavor food.
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Although rosemary originated in the Mediterranean, it is now grown worldwide. It’s practically a seasoning staple internationally.
There are cultivars (special breeds/hybrids) that can withstand temperatures far below freezing, so whether you live in Alabama or Minnesota, you can cultivate rosemary in your outdoor garden.
Growing Rosemary From Seeds
When growing rosemary from seeds, you begin by planting them in a seed starter container, an egg carton, or even small plastic containers. Being thrifty in these instances can make a difference down the line.
You can get these in the gardening section of your local hardware store.
These seedlings will be small, so it’s okay to have a small container. Now, what soil should you use when you’re growing rosemary from seeds?
A soilless mixture is great for germinating rosemary because it needs excellent drainage, and the plant does well in potting mixtures without an overabundance of nutrients.
Perlite and peat moss make an excellent partnership in making a soilless mixture for rosemary seeds.
Perlite is a type of volcanic glass that you can layer or spread throughout the mixture and promotes drainage.
Peat moss will hold moisture so the plants can get water, but it won’t hold excess moisture.
You also can purchase a ready-made soilless seed-starter mix, so you don’t have to mix your own.
It all depends on what you prefer. Whatever you choose, ensure you moisten the mixture before distributing it into the containers you’re using to plant your rosemary seeds.
Place several, about three or four, rosemary seeds in each small container. You can place some potting mix over them with just a light dusting.
Rosemary seeds need sunlight as well as slight moisture to germinate.
Because rosemary never needs to be soaked, especially the seeds, use a spray bottle to mist the surface of the already moistened potting mix.
This makes a nice little bed for the freshly planted seeds. If you have a plastic dome for your planting container, you can place it now.
Rosemary seeds need direct sunlight, and the germination process can take as long as a month.
You can mist the surface of the soilless mix again if you notice that the top layer of the planting container mixture appears dry.
When you see the little seedlings sprout from the mixture, you can remove the plastic cover if you used one. Now, these little ones need more moisture than before.
You can make sure to put enough water in their potting mixture to keep it moist but not wet, never wet.
When your seedlings are between three and six inches tall, you can transplant them outside.
Rosemary loves direct sunlight, so you should plant your seedlings where they will receive around eight hours of full sunlight each day.
As we mentioned above, you need to space out your seedlings so they can each have their one-square-foot area to thrive within.
When you plant them outside, they need a different type of soil, dark, nutrient-rich soil, but one that still has good drainage.
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Growing Rosemary From Stem Cuttings
If you already have a few rosemary plants and are looking to propagate them from their stems, the first step is to take very sharp scissors or pruning shears to snip off a piece approximately six inches from the tip.
Make sure to have some new growth at the bottom, that you’re taking a flexible, young branch from your mature rosemary plant.
These tend to grow faster and more easily than an older branch. You can always cut a few more than you need in case the first cutting doesn’t work out.
After you’ve chosen the stem you wish to cultivate into a new rosemary plant, you must remove its lower leaves, leaving only the top third of leaves on the stem.
The rest should be leafless.
The reason for the leaf removal on the bottom two-thirds of the stem is that you will place your cutting(s) in a jar of water and put that jar in a place that gets indirect sunlight.
A kitchen or bathroom counter or maybe a windowsill with a closed curtain will do the job.
Every few days, change out the water in the jar. The goal is to get roots to begin to grow on this stem.
When roots grow on the bottom of the cutting, which you can see through the jar, they are ready to meet the soil.
If you see some cuttings with brown leaves, you can toss those because they will not survive growing roots.
The next step for your stem cutting with roots is not to place them directly in your outdoor garden but to put each in its pot.
Sandy, well-draining soil works best, and you can even use that perlite/peat moss mixture we discussed with the seeds.
Don’t just shove the stem cuttings into the potting mixture—poke a hole with your finger and wiggle it around to make it roomy, about three inches long, for your stem cutting with new roots.
Place the seedling in the hole and gently fill it with the mixture, with no crushing. Moisten the soil.
You can then place your newly potted stem cuttings in a place with indirect sunlight, keeping the soil moist, never wet.
If your stem cuttings show new growth, you can ascertain whether they’ve taken root in the soil by tugging on them gently.
If you gently tug and they don’t come out of the potting mix, they’re ready to be transplanted outside.
Similar to the rosemary from the seeds we talked about, your newly propagated rosemary needs eight hours of direct sunlight and moist soil filled with nutrients that drains well.
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The best soil for rosemary once you plant it outside is well-draining soil, and it’s best to use mostly compost-based soil.
Unlike when you’re growing seedlings or stem cuttings, you can use much richer soil for your maturing and adult rosemary plants.
Loam soil is great for rosemary, but you need to ensure that wherever your rosemary is planted that it doesn’t hold excess water.
Waterlogging is the hardy rosemary plant’s weakness. Rosemary does well in semi-fertile soil, but it does best when the soil is alkaline.
Like every other plant in the world, rosemary’s watering needs to be considered if you are going to grow a thriving herb garden.
Mature rosemary is drought resistant and usually does best when it’s watered with simple rainfall.
However, when you first plant new rosemary into the ground, it does need regular watering.
You have to make sure that the top layer of the soil is moistened rather than extremely dry to the touch.
This should last about two weeks. Once your rosemary is established in its new outdoor garden home, you shouldn’t need to water it unless a drought affects your area.
If you’re growing rosemary in pots indoors, you can water your potted rosemary when the top layer of the soil is dry to the touch. Indoor rosemary needs to be kept moist.
The reason it’s important to keep your potting soil moist when taking care of indoor rosemary is that since rosemary has needles rather than leaves, it doesn’t have an obvious indicator to let you know if it’s getting too much or too little water.
Sometimes rosemary plants will even die before you realize they got too much or too little water, turning brown before you even know what happened.
This is why you need to make sure your indoor potted rosemary always has the perfect balance of water in the pot.
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You can choose to gently uproot your garden-planted rosemary during harsh winter months and place them into large pots to move indoors.
Rosemary has been known to withstand temperatures below freezing, but if you live in an area with severe winds and snowfall, your rosemary will fare best inside during the winter months.
Because rosemary is a perennial, it will seem to go dormant once a year, but then it’ll regrow on its own when it’s time, and then it will bloom in the spring or early summer.
Your rosemary plant should take about half a year from sprouting from seed or growing from a stem cutting before it’s mature.
Once it is, you can cut off the sprigs to use in one or more ways we mention below.
Uses of Rosemary
Rosemary has been prized for generations because of its beauty, powerful scent, and lovely flavor it adds to cooked dishes.
Many people use rosemary as an ornamental plant because it’s attractive, especially when the herb flowers, blue or purple blooms pop up all over the needly stems.
Some rosemary varieties, like the Albus, produce white blooms. Pink rosemary produces pink-lavender blooms.
If you prefer to leave it for ornamental use, you can make sure your rosemary looks as beautiful as possible by pruning off dried-up stems and leaves.
Pruning also stimulates new growth, so while you may like the look of wild, uncultivated growth, you can still achieve that by pruning select, unseen stems.
Rosemary is also popular for its scent. The scent is reminiscent of a rustic campfire with pine needles and warm, almost citrusy bright notes.
You can place sprigs of rosemary in your home so you can enjoy the scent; you can also add rosemary to arrangements of flowers to create your unique bouquet.
You can also use rosemary to make your air fresheners, dry the stems and hang them in your closet or add the distilled oil to water to spray your space.
The most popular use of rosemary is when it comes to culinary pursuits.
Rosemary is an amazing herb to flavor chicken, especially when used with lemon and black or white pepper. It can also be used as a simple garnish on cocktails or even iced tea. It can really do it all.
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Rosemary has been cultivated and revered as a medicinal and flavorful herb for millennia. It can find its place in your garden, like in countless others throughout history.
When your rosemary is young, it needs the most attention—indirect sunlight and soilless potting mix, as well as more watering than usual.
Once the plant matures, it can take care of itself for the most part. You can let the rain take care of the watering of your outdoor rosemary plants.
If you need them to be a specific size, you can always prune the rosemary down to the desired height and width.
Rosemary can grow to four feet tall and the same width, so pruning and regular trimming of dead or dying stems is recommended to ensure your rosemary plant is happy and healthy.
It’s also good at keeping other plants happy and healthy, as it deters pests due to its strong aroma.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.