Rights And Wrongs On How To Grow Rosemary At Home

Already mastered the growing of broccoli, sweet potatoes and runner beans, and looking for something new? Rosemary plant (Rosmarinus Officinalis) is an attractive evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves and blue, unique flowers. If you ever need a multi-purpose plant with unlimited benefits, then this is the one for you. 

A woman replant rosemary

Hailing from the Mediterranean, rosemary thrives in sunny spots with well-drained soil. It has a lingering flavour in dishes, and its teas and extracts help reduce muscle pain and boost the immune system. Read on and find out how you can add this amazing piece to your garden.

How to grow a rosemary plant in a pot

The three fundamentals to successfully grow rosemary are good drainage, sun and air circulation. You don’t need a herb garden to grow rosemary as it does well in containers, soil-based, and peat-free compost. 

  • Choose a container or pot 15-20cm wide and deep.
  • Fill the pot with porous, well-drained soil.
  • Ensure there is 2cm of space in between the sides of the container and the root ball.
  • Make sure the container has adequate drainage holes because rosemary becomes dormant when it sits in water for too long. Aid drainage by adding rocks to the bottom of pots.
  • Place the seed in the soil, ensuring it’s not too deep. You may also use a small bedding plant from a nursery.
  • Rosemary enjoys full sun or half shade. It can survive in a chilly environment but ensure you bring it in before the frost destroys it.
  • Allow the topsoil to dry before watering.Potted rosemary in the home

How to grow rosemary from seeds 

To give rosemary seeds the best chance to thrive, grow them indoors. Plant the seeds 3 to 6 months before the growing season since they are slow when it comes to germination rate and growth. 

  • In a starting mix, place the seeds gently in the soil, spacing them 2cm apart to barely cover the mixture. 
  • The potting medium can be averagely moist but not soggy. 
  • Then, envelop the seeds with plastic film to keep the temperature between 15-21 degrees Celsius.
  • Place the seeds in full sunlight or under a shade close to direct sun.
  • Once the seeds germinate, remove the plastic.
  • Continue growing the plants until you see several leaves.
  • Then, transfer each seedling into a separate 12-15cm pot before you consider the ground after you have eliminated all threats of frost.

How to grow rosemary from cuttings

Get a rosemary cutting rather than planting seeds. Since rosemary seeds grow very slowly and have a low germination rate, the easiest option is stem cuttings; they mature faster, allowing you to harvest rosemary more quickly than you’d be able to if you started from seed.

Woman cuts a rosemary

  • To grow rosemary from a cutting, use sharp scissors to clip about 5-7cm of a stem from an existing plant
  • Delicately trim off rosemary leaves at the lower part (about 2cm). 
  • Place the cutting in a container or jar of water.
  • Move the container of water to a warm area where the cutting can get indirect sunlight.
  • Change the water every two or three days.
  • Root growth should occur after a couple of weeks.
  • Once you see the growth, it means the cutting is ready to be planted.
  • Tuck the remaining part of the cut end into the soil in a pot.
  • Ensure the soil around the cutting is moist but not mushy.
  • Place the pot in a sunny or bright location with a temperature of 15-21 degrees Celsius
  • Leave the cutting rooted in the soil for eight weeks.

Rosemary care

Light

To keep rosemary blooming and vibrant, ensure it gets at least six to eight hours of full sunlight every day. Use full-spectrum light if you can’t find a sunny area. Also, if you are growing your plant indoors, place it by the window side, where it can get some light, but not too much, so it does not burn.

Soil

Rosemary plant enjoys sandy, well-draining soil but also thrives in organic or regular soil. If you have cold clay soil, apply lots of tree bark or leaf mould to enhance drainage.

A hand take care of rosmary

Water 

There’s always a proper way to water rosemary and all your plants. Ensure you keep the potting mix evenly moist. Overwatering will cause the plant to rot, but it will wither and die if the soil is too dry. 

Fertiliser

Although Rosemary plants grow well without any enhancer, applying a general fertiliser in your plant’s growing season will help it flourish. Also, plant food, fish or kelp emulsion fertiliser will make it grow well in the spring. 

Temperature and Humidity

Rosemary can withstand a high temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and various humidity. If the temperature drops too much you will have to put the plants indoors. Thus, it’s best to grow your plant in a pot throughout the year. 

Steps of Propagating a Rosemary plant

The easiest way you can propagate your plant is to use a nursery-grown plant. The reason being that rosemary takes a lot of time to grow. It is best to use the cutting to propagate. Take a look at the steps:

  1. Cut a 5cm cutting from the new growth of a grown plant.
  2. Gently clip off rosemary leaves from the bottom root, then submerge the cuttings into a container of wet, seed starting mix that drains well.
  3. Put the container in a warm location with indirect sunlight
  4. Lightly water the cuttings every day and ensure the soil stays moist.
  5. After 2 to 3 weeks, check for root growth by pulling on the cuttings delicately. 
  6. Once there is root growth, transplant the cuttings into different pots. 
  7. Ensure you nip the top of the cuttings to develop branches.

Repotting Rosemary

If you’re growing rosemary indoors in pots due to cold winters, move the containers outside or to your garden once you are sure all risks of frost have disappeared. 

Fresh green aromatic rosemary on a wooden table

Generally, the soil in most potted plants degenerates through consistent watering and root growths. Thus, you should expect the same for your rosemary. In that case, try to re-pot at least once a year during spring, but any time of year will suffice.

When the plant shows sizable growth, it gradually outgrows its pot and needs to be transplanted into a bigger one. To do this, gently cut off some inches of the roots from the bottom and side before planting it in the big pot. Also, don’t forget to trim some top leaves.

Common Pests and Diseases

Rosemary is relatively disease and pest-free. Although there are a few problems which include:

Root rot

This condition occurs when you consistently expose the plant to overwatered conditions, which causes some roots to die due to a lack of oxygen. This problem is solved by adding coarse sand or grit to the soil, ensuring water drains freely.

Powdery mildew

This problem is a result of high humidity and poor air circulation. It occurs in potted plants.  However, you can handle this by removing the infected stems and disposing of them. Avoid overwatering and ensure plants are well-spaced. In addition, keep your potted rosemary in direct sunlight and create room for it to get sufficient breeze.

Aphids and spider mites

These are common pests that disturb the growth of rosemary. The pests live on houseplants during winter, but you can prevent them by picking them out before they infest your new rosemary plants.  

Storing and Harvesting Rosemary

Storing rosemary

You can harvest rosemary by gently pulling small sprigs away from the main stem and using secateurs to remove large branches. If you desire intense flavour and fresh rosemary, wait until the plant is about to bloom before you harvest. 

However, you can snip off some leaves any time. To do this, gently use a garden pruner to cut the branch tips and remove the stems’ leaves. Be careful not to prune hard so the plant can stay active.

You can store your rosemary by wrapping a plastic bag over it and placing it in the refrigerator. That should make it last up to two weeks.

Rosemary Varieties to Grow

  • Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’ is creeping and ground cover rosemary, perfect for containers and pots. Where there is a rosemary bush in the garden there is always ‘Prostratus.’ This aromatic herb comes with beautiful blue flowers and rich foliage. It is wonderful in the kitchen and has the best fragrance among all.
  • Collingwood Ingram Rosemary is mostly grown for its edible and ornamental qualities. The fragrant herb has dark green and needle-like leaves. This variety of rosemary is normally harvested from early to mid-summer. 
  • Tuscan Blue is an excellent choice if you’re planting your rosemary for cooking purposes. The plants are cultivars that grow up tall when they are directly in the ground. They have large fragrant leaves, which enhances their flavour when cooked or dried.
  • Blue Spires is an evergreen rosemary variety, upright and densely branched. They have small blue beautiful flowers that bloom seasonally from the leaf axils and the flowers are highly attractive to butterflies.
  • Blue Boy is commonly known as dwarf rosemary. This selection is uniquely small in size, with long-blooming evergreen leaves holding over light blue flowers. It is perfect for edging a garden or planting in a container.

Five Ways to Use Rosemary

Rosmary oil on vintage bottles

  • Use Rosemary teas and extracts to treat indigestion and stomach upset.
  • Due to its aroma, cosmetics companies add rosemary in bodily perfumes and lotions.
  • Rosemary is best for cooking dishes, such as soups, chicken, casseroles, lamb, pork, salads, and stews. 
  • You can make rosemary tea to lower your blood sugar level.
  • Rosemary is used in hair creams to improve hair growth.

Rosemary plant does not just make a great addition to your garden but also your dishes due to its fulfilling flavour. Besides this, rosemary is used for medicinal purposes to improve memory, digestion, hair growth, healthy body system, etc. Knowing how to grow this plant well will offer a variety of benefits.

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