Rosemary Plant: How To Care For The Herb Rosemary

Pinterest Hidden Image

The rosemary plant is a fragrant, delicious, excellent herb to grow, either potted indoors or outside in the herb garden.

It’s a member of the Lamiaceae family and is native to the Mediterranean region.

rosemary plantPin

These easy-to-grow herb plants, once established, will thrive for years in full direct sunlight without problems. Read on to learn how to plant and care for rosemary.

Rosemary Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Common Name(s): Rosemary
  • Synonyms: None
  • Pronunciation: Rowz-meh-ree
  • Family & Origin: Lamiaceae family, native to the Mediterranean region
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 7-10
  • Size: Can grow up to 3′ feet tall and 5′ feet wide
  • Flowering: Blooms in the spring and summer with small blue or purple flowers
  • Light: Full sun, at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day
  • Humidity: High humidity levels
  • Temperature: Can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but prefers warmer temperatures between 60-80°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil or sandy soil
  • Water: Water deeply once a week, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Enjoys periodic foliar feeding with fish emulsion fertilizer or slow-releasing fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to spider mites, black aphid plant lice, whiteflies, and powdery mildew.
  • Propagation: Can be propagated by seed or stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Culinary herb, ornamental plant, medicinal herb, essential oil production.

Rosemary Care

Described as a woody stemmed plant and needle-like leaves, rosemary plants reach heights of 3′ feet, eventually stretching to 5′ feet in warmer climate areas. 

In zone 8 and lower, this evergreen shrub with brilliant pale blue flowers makes a very beautiful hedge.

The blue and purple flowers persist through spring and summer, filling the air with a nice piney fragrance. Rosemary bush will grow in Zone 7 and other colder zones. In areas with extremely cold winters, grow rosemary as container plants you can bring inside.

The scientific name, Rosmarinus Officinalis, translates to “Mist of the Sea.“ Its gray-green foliage resembles the Mediterranean cliffs, where it originated.

How To Grow Rosemary Plants

Can you grow rosemary from cuttings?

This perennial herb grows easily from cutting rather than planting seeds. When growing, rosemary provides well-drained potting soil, preferably sandy soil, and at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.

Rosemary plants thrive well in warm and humid environments with high humidity levels and do not like extremely low temperatures (below 30° degrees Fahrenheit).

It prefers warmer temperature ranges of about 60° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit.

When growing rosemary in pots, terra cotta pots make an excellent choice since rosemary prefers to remain on the dry side. Terra cotta containers allow the herb plant to dry out fast.

How often to water rosemary?

Water plants thoroughly. When the soil dries, allow the potting mix to dry out between waterings. Remember, even when growing rosemary indoors, the plant requires lots of light, at least six hours daily. Make sure to place the plant in a suitable location free of drafts.

How To Start Rosemary

If growing rosemary from seed, remember they take a long to germinate. Make things easier, and start with a nursery-grown plant.

Propagation and Planting of Rosemary

Snip 6″ inch cuttings from new growth on an established plant

Remove the bottom leaves the bottom 3 inches, dip the base into a rooting powder

Plant rosemary cuttings in a container with a dampened, seed-starting soil mix having good drainage. Equal parts perlite and peat moss do well.

  • Place the potted rosemary in a warm sheltered spot receiving direct light
  • Mist cuttings to dampen soil daily, and make sure soil does not dry out
  • Check for root growth in 2-3 weeks by turning the cutting gently
  • Once cuttings develop roots, plant outdoors or in individual pots.
  • When planting outdoors, space plants 18″ to 24″ inches apart
  • To encourage branching, pinch out the top of young plants
rosemary plant propagation from cuttingsPin wanted a hedge of rosemary herb plants and put together a plan over 5 years to accomplish it. Instead of buying a bunch of plants, they decided to propagate their own.

They share it all with lots of pictures here.

Rosemary Plant Care Tips


Water rosemary deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions. Let the soil dry between watering. Keep the soil moist but do not overwater to avoid root rot disease.

Rosemary Fertilizer

Not heavy feeders, rosemary plants enjoy periodic foliar feeding with fish emulsion fertilizer will keep plants looking evergreen.

In spring, get plants off to a good start by fertilizing them with a slow-releasing fertilizer.

NOTE: Do not apply plant food too early in the season. Wait until all danger of frost passes. New growth could be prone to frost damage.

Pests And Diseases

The biggest problem affecting rosemary is Powdery mildew, a white powder-like fungus that tends to develop in humid areas with low air circulation.

Although the powdery mildew will not kill the plant, it will weaken it considerably. Keep the humidity down by allowing the area or container to dry out between watering.

Be on the lookout for red spider mites, whiteflies, and black aphid plant lice.

These pests love invading the plant, with their attacks intensifying during the winter.

Inspect plants and control the pests before they get out of hand. Successfully control the aphid pests with repeated spraying with insecticidal soap concentrate.

How To Prune Rosemary Plants

Pruning helps make plants bushier. Growing rosemary bushes enjoy a trim every so often. The general rule of pruning… prune no more than 1/3 of the plant at any time. Always make cuts just above a leaf joint.

Uses For Rosemary Plants

While fresh rosemary blends well with other herbs, use it lightly on its own with pork, chicken, lamb, and veal dishes and in stews, with vegetables and soups.

Besides, rosemary serves as a culinary herb providing a wonderful flavor to bread and making an excellent marinade with wine, olive oil, and garlic.

Leaves are turned into rosemary oil which causes many benefits such as hair growth, skincare, and more.

The rosemary essential oil provides many aromatic qualities to enhance a bath, Christmas tree, wreath, bouquet, or sachet.

Add A Tasty Botanical Trick To Your Next Cookout

Looking for an exciting new spice secret when grilling? Try the taste of dry rosemary with your next grilled meat dish.

The cool trick, use the strong rosemary stems from acting as skewers by themselves and imparting a wonderful flavor to the meats they hold.

Harvest 10″ inch rosemary shoots from the garden, skin off most of the leaves, soak for 30 minutes, and then skewer the meats as usual. Simple yet tasty. More here.

Related: More on the Health Benefits of Rosemary

Great Varieties To Grow

Rosemary flowers come in a variety of shades, including pink, white, and blue.

  • Nancy Howard – A large variety that develops off-white flowers
  • Blue Lady – Violet dark blue flowers with a twisted growth habit
  • Pinkie – A dwarf variety with small leaves and pink flower

There is also a Trailing Rosemary.

Best Varieties To Grow In Pots

  • Golden Rain – A compact and small variety, new foliage with a weeping habit and light yellow marking that eventually darkens to green.
  • Blue Boy – A small evergreen bush rosemary with small leaves growing in clusters.

Chef Favorites

Spice Island, Tuscan Blue, and Miss Jessup are excellent choices for cooks. These varieties grow large along with large leaves, reaching 5-7′ feet. They are very fragrant and hold their flavors when dried or cooked.

Recommended Reading

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.