Rosemary is a perennial herb popular for its woody fragrance and sweet, resinous flavor. Native to the Mediterranean Sea regions, rosemary means ‘remembrance’ in floral language. And as a result, rosemary tea is said to have the property of boosting one’s memory! Additionally, this herb is most extensively used in French, Spanish, and Italian cuisine.
Hence, it is not a surprise that many gardeners want to grow them in their herb garden and have a supply of fresh rosemary whenever needed. That being said, rosemary thrives in semi-hardy zones, such as USDA zone 6, and makes excellent hedges and edging plants.
This is not only a tasty herb that can be used in a variety of dishes, but it’s also a lot of fun to grow. As a result, many gardeners are interested in learning how to propagate rosemary properly. Keeping it in mind, this post has been dedicated to exploring how rosemary can be propagated.
However, before we begin our exploration, we must mention that propagating rosemary is an easy task. All you need is access to a mature rosemary plant. The rest we will discuss in the subsequent section in steps.
Before Initiating the Propagation
Before beginning the process of rosemary propagation, it is critical to consider the timing. We’re trying to say that propagation is best done in the late spring to early summer when the plant is actively growing. Then, when the plant has a few inches of new growth, you can also propagate it.
It is also possible to propagate rosemary in the late autumn. Still, you will need to overwinter your plant indoors during the winter months.
Apart from taking care of the timing, it is also crucial that you get yourself all the necessary equipment for the propagation. Here is a list of things you would need in your garden pouch before starting your task.
- Rooting hormone powder (to propagate from stem cuttings) (optional)
- Sterilized garden pruner or knife
- Potting mix
- Jar or container with water
- Planter(s) (later on)
Can Rosemary be Grown From Cuttings?
Rosemary, a popular herb, is known for its distinctive taste and is used in several dishes worldwide. Hence, growing rosemary in the backyard garden can be an excellent idea.
That said, one of the most convenient ways to propagate rosemary is from cuttings. Although it is not difficult to propagate rosemary, a little patience is a must, as it is a lengthy process. If you think you can invest time, you can opt for propagating rosemary from cuttings.
While rosemary can be propagated at any time of the year, cuttings must be taken from late spring through the summer for best results. We mean that you should take the cuttings while the tree is actively growing or after it has bloomed.
How to Grow Rosemary from Stem Cutting?
This section will focus on the steps you would need to take if planning to propagate rosemary from stem cuttings. This process is one of the most convenient and popular for propagating rosemary. You can gather the cuttings from a mature plant and grow them in a container before transferring them outdoors in the summers.
- With a sharp and clean garden pruner or knife, prune a 2- to 3-inch cutting from a mature rosemary plant. Cutting new, delicate, flex, green stems that have just grown is a good option. Old and woody stems should be avoided at all costs.
Pro Tip: For better propagation results, aim for a single long stem. You can snip a longer stem into shorter sections. Each section of the new cutting can be cultivated to begin a new plant.
- Gently strip off the leaves from the bottom ⅔ section of the cutting.
- Place the new cuttings in the glass jar filled with water, and place the jar in a warm place. Do not place the jar under direct sunlight and replace the old water with new in every couple of days.
Pro Tip: Use water at room temperature for better results.
Note: You should notice new roots growing within 2-4 weeks. The timing depends on the local temperature. If you live in a colder region, the rooting process might take longer. Within 4-8 weeks, you will realize if the new cuttings have survived and can grow further.
- Once the rosemary cuttings are ready, you will notice 4 to 6 ½ inch long roots on each stem. Now, you can transfer the cuttings into a well-balanced potting soil and sand mixture. Make sure that the soil mix drains well.
- Fill each pot or container with slightly damp potting soil and plant one rosemary cutting in each pot. Using a pencil or index finger, make a 3 to 4-inch hole into the soil and place the cutting.
Pro Tip: Take small pots of 4-5 inches for each cutting.
- Gently cover the root and water thoroughly.
- Place the newly potted rosemary pots under indirect or filtered sunlight.
- Move the pot to direct sunlight once the roots get well-established.
Pro Tip: Before dipping the new stem cuttings into the water jar, you can dip them into a hormone rooting powder to speed up the growth process.
Note: Keep the pot under sunlight for at least 6- 8 hours a day. You can transplant the new plants outdoors the next spring, and in the meantime, if your new cuttings overgrow the smaller pot, you may have to transfer them to a larger pot or container.
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How to Grow Rosemary from Stem from Seeds?
Propagating rosemary from seeds is not popular among gardeners because it takes an extended time for rosemary seeds to germinate. Still, if you want, you can opt for this option. Below are the steps mentioned on how to propagate rosemary from seeds.
- Start your propagation task in mid-winter.
- Before spreading them on the potting mix, it is better to soak them in warm water overnight.
- Take a planting tray and fill it with soilless potting mix. You can use pearlite, sand-based mix, vermiculite, etc.
- Scatter the seeds across the potting mix. However, avoid overcrowding your tray. That said, it is better to scatter 3-4 seeds per tray.
- Sprinkle some potting mixture over the seeds but do not suffocate them.
- Mist with water until the whole thing gets sufficiently moistened.
- Cover the tray with a thin plastic film. The plastic film would keep moisture and warmth intact and help germinate.
- Keep the tray as it is. Only remove the plastic when you would need to moisten the soil.
- Do not do anything with the setup until you find small seedlings coming out of the seeds, which might take a minimum time of 25 days. However, the whole germination process might take up to 3 months to complete.
Pro Tip: Have patience!
- Once you notice the seedlings reach 7-8 inches, you can transfer them to individual pots in loamy and well-drained soil.
- You can transfer your plants outdoors in late May or early June.
How to Grow Rosemary from Stem Through Layering?
Rosemary plants can also be propagated through layering. This process is similar to the one we have mentioned above- propagation through stem cuttings. The only difference is that the cuttings remained attached to the mother plant in layering.
Let’s see how this process is carried out.
- For this process, choose a longer stem that can bend to reach the ground.
- Hold the stem and bend it towards the ground to pin it there.
- Leave 2-3 inches of the tip on the other side of the pin.
- Remove the 1/2-inch of leaves and stems along either side of the pin.
- The pin and bare bark need to be buried properly.
- Wait until you notice new growths on the tip.
- Afterward, cut the stem away from the mother plant.
- Transplant the cutting to your desired location.
Benefits of Growing Rosemary Plants from Stem Cuttings
The distinctive quality of rosemary is its aroma. So it is a good idea to cultivate rosemary in your backyards rather than purchasing it every year. And stem cutting is among the best methods for propagating rosemary. But why is this procedure so advantageous? We must continue reading the section below to find the answer to this question.
1. Duplicating an Already Thriving Plant
Although rosemary can be grown from seeds, propagating it from stem cuttings would mean copying the traits of a mother plant that is already flourishing. In other words, the new plant’s flavor, pest resistance, and health will be identical to the mother plant. You will essentially be re-creating the characteristics of the rosemary plant that you already adore.
2. Early Harvest
A rosemary plant that has been propagated from a cutting will rapidly grow. Also, rosemary seeds have a fairly low germination rate and require a long time to sprout and mature. On the other hand, a rosemary stem cutting will mature into a suitable size in a few months of propagation, allowing you to begin harvesting earlier.
3. Added Herbs
Several cuttings can be taken from a single mature rosemary plant. You can plant a line of rosemary stem cuttings in your herb garden at a time. In other words, you will always have a supply of rosemary.
Taking Care of the Rosemary Plants
Hence, propagating rosemary plants is not at all a tough task. However, to ensure that your new rosemary plants thrive and strive well, you must take good care of them. Although these are robust plants, some care tips are worth following when established properly.
Give it Some Sunshine
When a strong root system is established, rosemary plants need 6-7 hours of direct sun exposure. Hence, make sure to put your planter under the direct sun during the summertime. This herb is sun-loving!
Water the Dry Soil
Do not over-water the soil, but water your plants whenever the top inch of soil gets dried. Remember, rosemary loves to stay on the dry side. So no soggy soil for them.
A container rosemary plant can reach a height of 1-3 feet. These plants grow fast. So, make sure to change the container once it gets filled with its growing roots.
The rule is that the more you clip your rosemary plant, the bushier it will become. So, prune it, but do so after it flowers. Then, it will grow in a compact form.
Most rosemary cultivars can withstand temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you live in a colder climate, bring your plant inside during the winter months because it will not last at temperatures below 30 degrees.
A high humidity level can cause rot and fungal problems. If there isn’t enough air circulation, your plant may suffer even more. As a result, keep it in an airy area. Keep it away from heat sources during the winter months, and mist it with water if the soil becomes too dry.
Ans. The answer to this question depends on whether you put your rosemary cuttings in water or soil.
Rooting will usually appear after 2-4 weeks if you put the cuttings in water, while the time can get extended to 4-8 weeks if you put them in soil. To accelerate the rooting, you can use the rooting hormone. This is, however, a completely optional step.
Ans. Cutting a few stems each week to promote new, fresh growth is the ideal way to harvest rosemary, so it keeps growing. But always be careful not to take out more than one-third of the plant at once.
Ans. Below are some of the possible reasons your rosemary would refuse to propagate.
• You might have taken the cutting during flowering.
• The cuttings are old and woody or dehydrated and unhealthy.
• Lack of moisture.
• Cold season.
• If you have taken the cutting too late, when it is time for the plant to hibernate.
Ans. Yes, rosemary plants will grow in partial shade (2-3 hours of sunlight). However, make sure to plant this herb in very well-drained soil if there is no direct sunlight. Also, check that the plants are getting an airy ambiance.
Ans. While growing rosemary is pretty hassle-free, there are a few issues you should be aware of. Below are some of those problems that are quite common with this herb.
• Powdery mildew
• Yellow or brown leaves
• Leaves drop off
• Drying out
• Stunted growth
• Roor rot
• Lack of light
• Heavy and suffocating soil condition
Ans. Prune your plant regularly, and water them once you find the soil has dried up. However, do not overwater them, as these are drought-resistant plants.
Ans. Rosemary is a perennial herb. It can survive for as long as 30 years with little care.
Ans. This is an optional step that you may take if you want to accelerate the rooting process in your rosemary cuttings. However, if you take cuttings from a healthy mother stem, almost all cuttings will root. You just need to have some patience to see the result.
Ans. Yes, you may root rosemary cuttings in water. You must make a fresh cut near the stem’s base to let the water through. Put the freshly cut stem in a water-filled jar. Make sure there are no leaves on the part of the stem that is submerged in the water. Place the jar away from direct sunlight in a warm location.
Ans. Yes. Rosemary is easy to root. If you are not using a rooting hormone, you can root the rosemary stem cuttings in water, which takes 3-4 weeks.
So, here we are with our detailed guide on propagating rosemary plants. Although we have mentioned all the three ways, you can propagate your plant. You can adopt any of them at your convenience. However, we would recommend using the propagation method that involves stem cuttings. This method is very common and can be adopted even by mature gardeners. So, go ahead and “soil” your hands. We bet you will love to propagate rosemary.
And a word of wisdom- have the patience to witness your new rosemary plants flourish.