Growing Rosemary | The Complete Guide for How to Grow & Harvest Rosemary

Rosemary is the aromatic, woody herb that is the perfect addition to your perennial herb garden. With its beautiful blue flowers and uniquely needle-like leaves, your garden is sure to level up with the addition of fresh rosemary. Also known as rosmarinus officinalis, a member of the mint family, this plant is a versatile herb that loves to grow nice and easily. You can use rosemary for homemade remedies, cooking, baking, and for craft cocktails. What’s not to love?

This week, we are bringing you a complete guide to growing and harvesting fresh rosemary. Whether you are growing rosemary indoors or in your outdoor vegetable garden, keep reading to learn everything that you need to know in order to have a fun and bountiful harvest. 

When to Plant Rosemary?

The best time to plant rosemary is to wait until the point in the spring season when all chances of frost have passed. If you are growing rosemary in Texas, you should aim to plant in the spring; this way, the plants will have a full growing season to mature before the winter arrives. Remember, if you do plant in the fall, be prepared to cover your garden once the weather begins to cool down significantly.

You can start your rosemary garden from a seed indoors up to 10 weeks before the last frost date in your zone. If you are container gardening, you won’t need to worry all too much about what zone you are planting in. That said, the more information you have, the better care of your gardens you are able to take. 

Rosemary, a mediterranean native plant, will thrive in hardiness zones 7-11, with a strong preference for moderately warm and dry climates. If you live in zones 6-10, planting your rosemary in a container is the best option because it allows you to bring the garden inside for the cold weather months of the year. 

How Long Does it Take to Grow Rosemary?

If you are growing rosemary from seeds or transplanting, it can take anywhere from 6-12 months for a plant to fully mature. This is why growing during the spring season is highly recommended; as rosemary is a perennial plant, you can expect your garden to flourish after the 12 month mark has been passed. 

Your rosemary will grow slowly at first, but during the second year its growth will gain speed. If you plant in the spring of this year, you should expect to have a garden that is positively bursting with rosemary stems next year.  

How to Grow Rosemary?

Rosemary thrives when planted from cuttings, when grown from seed, and when transplanted. You can keep rosemary indoors, as an aromatic addition to your houseplant collection, or plant it in your raised garden bed. In zones that have a generally warmer climate, you can also use rosemary as a hedge plant, as it can grow up to 5 feet tall! Keep reading to learn more about the various methods for growing rosemary. 

How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings

You can take rosemary cuttings from a mother plant, and use them to grow new plants; this is a process referred to as propagation, in the gardening world. As rosemary is a generally slow growing plant, choosing to grow from cuttings is a great way to expedite the growing process; a plant taken from a cutting will grow more quickly than one grown from seed. 

  • Step 1: Choose a stem that has new growth; avoid older, woody stems for your cuttings. 
  • Step 2: Use sharp and clean scissors to snip your sprigs of rosemary 5-6 inches beneath a fresh growing tip. Be sure to cut plenty.
  • Step 3: Gently prune the leaves off of the lower two inches of the stem
  • Step 4: Place the cuttings in a clean, clear glass full of room temperature water. Allow the cuttings to have plenty of light in general, but keep them away from direct sunlight.
  • Step 5: Once your stems have grown about 5 roots that are at least ½ inch in length, you can plant them in a pot!

Growing Rosemary from Seed

Rosemary seeds tend to have exceptionally low germination rates and take a long time to sprout and grow. That said, if you’re looking for an eventual but robust addition to your garden, or perhaps a natural hedge, growing rosemary from seed is a great option for you.

  • Step 1: Plant your seeds in a container 10 weeks before the last frost date in your zone. 
  • Step 2: Fill the container with potting soil, sprinkle the seeds on top, then cover with an additional ½ inch of soil.
  • Step 3: Keep the container evenly moist
  • Step 4: After 14-21 days, your seeds will begin to sprout! 
  • Step 5: Once the weather warms up, and your seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, you can get your plants ready for the great outdoors by placing them outside during the day and bringing them back in at night.
  • Step 6: After a week of this, plant your seedlings in a raised bed.

Growing Rosemary from Transplants / Seedlings

Planting rosemary from transplants, or seedlings, is your best option if you’re looking for a slightly shorter growing period. Even though you can begin to harvest rosemary during the growing process, there is nothing that quite measures up to the satisfaction of a fully matured plant in your garden. Here are the quick and easy steps to transplanting your rosemary:

Time needed: 14 days.

How To Grow Rosemary

  1. Get Your Garden Ready

    Prepare your garden or container with a sandy soil

  2. Moisten The Soil

    Before taking your transplant out of its current home, be sure to moisten the soil that it is in.

  3. Look Out For Pests

    If you are transplanting plants from your raised bed to a container, be sure to clear the ground of any mulch or debris so that you don’t bring unwanted visitors in with your transplants. If you are transplanting from a Gardenuity Garden Kit, you will not need to worry about pests.

  4. Prepare The Rosemary Plant Roots

    Don’t let your plant’s roots get exposed when transferring it to its new home. In this step, it is best to keep the soil around the roots as intact as possible.

  5. Plant Your Rosemary Plant

    Plant your rosemary.

  6. Tend & Take Care of Your Rosemary

    Until the weather reaches temperatures lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, you can acclimate the transplanted rosemary by taking it outside during the day, and bringing it in at night. Once it is colder than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you should bring the garden inside for the cold winter season. 

Growing Rosemary in Pots & Containers

If you intend to keep your rosemary plants growing for many years to come, the chances are that you will need to either keep them in containers, or transplant them to containers at some point in their lifecycle. As these herbs are sensitive to colder temperatures, the advantage to container gardening with rosemary is that you can always protect them from the cold. 

When growing rosemary in a container, you will need to look out for a quality, well drained soil, as well as a pot that has plenty of drainage. Rosemary plants are partial to a more dry environment; allowing the roots to get soggy is detrimental to the health of the plant.

What are the Ideal Containers to Grow Rosemary in?

Heather Chastain
Gardening.

When choosing a container to grow your rosemary in, good drainage is the name of the game. A well draining pot, as well as a well draining soil, are what will keep your plant healthy, and avoid the onset of root rot. You should also look for a container that is at least 12 inches in diameter, and at least 6-8 inches deep. 

If you are growing your garden in a Gardenuity Grow Bag, you don’t need to worry about fretting over these details, as the Grow Bag is designed to provide the perfect environment for your plants. 

Let's Get Growing Rosemary

Rosemary Growing Conditions & How to Care

Similar to other Mediterranean herbs, rosemary prefers dry and warm growing conditions. The key to growing healthy and thriving rosemary plants is to keep the plants in a bright, sunny location, keep them watered but not soggy, and to routinely prune the plants to guide their growth. 

Ideal Soil for Growing Rosemary

The best soil for growing rosemary is a sandy, loamy and loose soil mix that drains well. Mix equal parts all-purpose potting soil and sharp sand, or you can even choose cactus potting mix. The best soil pH for these herbs is 6-7. You will not need to fertilize your rosemary plants after their initial planting. That said, if you want to give them a little bit of a boost, you can use a 5-10-5 fertilizer in the spring.

The Ideal Rosemary Growing Temperature

While rosemary plants are sensitive to temperatures below 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, these plants thrive in varying temperatures and high humidity levels otherwise. Since this plant originated in Mediterranean countries, it is partial to temperatures of 65-85°F. If you want to keep your rosemary coming back for many years, be sure to maintain soil temperatures above 65°F.

How Much Sun Does Rosemary Need?

Rosemary will need about 6-8 hours of full sun each day. If you are growing your plants indoors, be sure to place your container in a sunny, south-facing window for maximum sunlight exposure. 

Rosemary Watering Needs

In general, it is best to air on the side of caution when it comes to watering rosemary. This is not said as a means to frighten you out of watering your plants, however, be weary of overwatering your rosemary. Since rosemary is partial to a dry environment, overwatering can cause significant damage to your plant. 

You’ll want to keep young plants watered; once the top 1 inch of soil is dry, give the plants a  nice good watering. For mature plants, water rosemary with a good soak once every two weeks. When your plants are indoors or potted in a container, you’ll want to emphasize the drainage that the plants have in their container. Additionally, never soak your potted rosemary – quite the contrary, rosemary will prefer to keep its soil dry indoors.

Pest Prevention

Indoor rosemary plants are common hosts to red spider mites, aphids, spittlebugs, and whiteflies. These pests can cause your rosemary to wilt and dry up by sucking the nutrients out of the plants. Be sure to inspect your plants frequently to ensure that these pests haven’t settled in. You can control the onset of pests with organic insecticidal soap. 

Diseases such as root rot, powdery mildew, and mold are all indicators of too much moisture and poor air circulation in your environment. You can resolve circulation issues by running a fan in the rooms that your plants are growing in.

Grow Pro Rosemary Growing Hacks & Tips

  • In the spring, prune dead wood out of your rosemary plants to make room for fresh, new growth.
  • When transplanting, be sure not to let the soil become too soggy; this will cause root rot. Instead, what you can do is place your pot over a tray of gravel. This will provide an extra layer of drainage for the plants. 
  • Be sure to re-pot as your rosemary continues to grow larger, and the roots fill the container. Rosemary that is growing in a container can reach up to 1-3 feet tall.
  • Pruning rosemary frequently is important for keeping fresh growth coming in. Prune the plant after it flowers in order to keep it compact.
  • It’s important to acclimate your plants to their new climate if you are bringing them indoors from an outdoor garden. While the temperatures still permit, be sure to keep your plants in their container outside during the day, and bring them in at night to help them adjust. 
  • Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings, and then water thoroughly – water until you can see water begin to drain out of the bottom of the pot. 
  • You can run a fan to improve air circulation around your rosemary plants.

Best Companion Plants for Rosemary

Herb Garden

When it comes to companion planting, rosemary is a great choice in terms of protecting the other plants in your garden. Because of its strong aroma, rosemary cases away many pests. Additionally, this herb attracts helpful pollinators like bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Some great companion plants for rosemary are beans, broccoli, hot peppers, cabbage and sage. You should avoid planting your rosemary near other herbs, with the exception of sage. 

Rosemary Growing Stages

If you feel like your rosemary plants are taking a long time to take off, never fear – this is common and normal. In fact, rosemary is a generally slow growing herb within the first year of its growth. After the first 12 months of growing, prepare for tall and luscious plants that will give you harvests for years to come.

Getting Settled

When you are growing your rosemary from transplants, it is important to keep the plants well watered, but not soggy. Changing your plant’s environment can be shocking, so allow about a week of transition time to tend to their needs extra closely. 

Plant Development

As your rosemary begins to grow, your stalks will grow straight up into the air. Keep your plant healthy by allowing it to bask in at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. 

It’s Time To Harvest

You can harvest your rosemary after new growth is generated, or about 6 weeks after planting. When harvesting, be sure to avoid any parts that look woody, as this will damage the plant. Harvesting rosemary is extraordinarily beneficial to the continued growth of the plant; a practice of weekly harvesting will keep your rosemary thriving for years. You’ll want to harvest young rosemary stems for the freshest taste.

I Waited Too Long, Now What?

If you do wait too long to harvest your rosemary, the plants will bloom into flowers. 

How to Harvest Rosemary?

Harvesting Rosemary
  • Step 1: It is best to harvest rosemary when it is most active in the spring and summer seasons. At the very earliest, you can begin harvesting after 6 weeks of growth. For best results, choose stems that are about 8 inches high or taller. 
  • Step 2: Choose sharp and sanitized garden shears to snip the tender upper portion of your rosemary stem. Be sure to avoid harvesting any hard and woody stems which are found at the base of the plant – this can harm the plant.
  • Step 3: Only ever harvest ¼ of your plant; leave the rest to continue growing.
  • Step 4: Continue to harvest your rosemary plants on a weekly basis to control the growth and keep the plants healthy. 

When to Harvest Rosemary?

You’ll be able to safely harvest your rosemary after at least 6 weeks of growing. For best results, harvest the uppermost portion of the stems, and do so in the spring and summer seasons, when the plant is actively growing. 

Rosemary Storage

There are many ways to store and enjoy your fresh rosemary harvest. From refrigerating, freezing to drying, you’ll be able to enjoy your rosemary for weeks to come, once you’ve completed a harvest. 

Refrigerator Storage

  1. Wash and dry your rosemary completely.
  2. Wrap the fresh stems in a damp paper towel – this will keep them from drying out. 
  3. Place the rosemary inside a ziplock bag, or any other airtight container. 
  4. Place the container inside of the crisper compartment in your refrigerator. 
  5. Storing rosemary in the refrigerator will maintain the herb’s freshness for up to 2 weeks.

Freeze Rosemary

  1. Lay the fresh rosemary sprigs flat on a baking sheet. Be careful not to overcrowd the stems; leave about an inch of space between each stem, or else they will stick together once frozen.
  2. Place your rosemary in the freezer for about 3 hours. Check back in every hour to see if the sprigs are frozen through – you are looking to see that they don’t droop or bend easily when you pick them up.
  3. Once frozen, place the rosemary inside a ziplock bag. Be sure to squeeze all of the air out of the bag before tightly zipping it.
  4. Put the rosemary back into the freezer. 
  5. Freezing your rosemary will preserve its freshness for several months to a year.

Dry Rosemary

Rosemary naturally preserves its flavor on its own; you can dry your rosemary to save it for a later date. After washing, bundle the stems together, tie them at their bases, and hang them in an area that is well ventilated. The best part about this method is that, while the rosemary is drying, you also gain a lovely decoration. 

Bake with Rosemary

You can also dry your rosemary in the oven. To oven dry, preheat the oven to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the rosemary stems onto baking paper lined baking trays. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the rosemary leaves are dry and brittle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Rosemary Recipes we Love

rosemary old fashioned cocktail

Rosemary is wonderful to have on hand, as it can be used for a wonderfully large variety of dishes and purposes in your home. Once the needles are removed and minced, or left as whole sprigs, rosemary is great for infusing flavor into a larger dish, such as a stew or roast. To remove the rosemary leaves from their stem, pull the needles in the opposite direction from which they grow and they will easily snap off the stalk. This herb goes especially well with grains, mushrooms, onions, peas, potatoes, and spinach. Here is a list of some of our very favorite rosemary based recipes:

Our Grow Pros Most Frequently Asked Questions

Does rosemary come back every year?

Yes, rosemary is a perennial plant, meaning it grows back every year.

Does rosemary keep bugs away?

Yes, rosemary’s strong aroma is great for warding away pests from your other plants. 

Can I grow rosemary from a cutting?

Yes, you can easily grow rosemary from a cutting! All you need is a clean glass of water and some sunshine.

Can you grow rosemary from store bought?

Yes, you can grow rosemary from store bought stems. It is a little more difficult when they are not fresh from the plant. 

Why do my rosemary plants keep dying?

If you are overwatering your rosemary plants, they will not survive. Be sure to give them 6-8 hours of full sun, and only water when necessary. 

How do you take a cutting from a rosemary bush?

Using clean scissors, snip about 5-6 inches off of the top of a stem. Be sure to leave ¾ of the plant to continue growing.

Will rosemary grow with the other herbs in my herb garden?

Rosemary will grow well with other herbs that prefer a loose and well drained soil. In general, it’s best to only pair rosemary with herbs such as sage or thyme. 

Why is my rosemary looking like it is dying?

If your rosemary is wilting, you are likely overwatering it. Let your rosemary plants completely dry out before the next watering, and they should perk back up.

Is rosemary hard to grow?

No, rosemary is not hard to grow! All you need is a little patience and the right information, and you’ll be set for success. 

Start Growing Your Own Rosemary!

Congratulations, you are now ready to get out into your garden and grow a beautiful plot of rosemary. Whether you are keeping your container garden indoors or outdoors, you are sure to have a glorious harvest for years to come. Take a look at our available container gardening kits to get started on your very own fresh rosemary today. 

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