How To Grow Trailing Rosemary

Rosemary is a member of the mint or Lamiaceae family. 

It is a type of perennial herb hailing originally from the Mediterranean. 

There are several different varieties of Rosemary, and one of the most popular and versatile types is Rosmarinus officinalis “Prostratus”.

trailing rosemary

The plants’ genus name, Rosmarinus, means dew of the sea. 

Its specific epithet, officinalis, is a reference to the many health benefits and medicinal uses of Rosemary plants. “Prostratus” describes the plant’s prostrate or creeping growth habit. 

Common names for this plant include:

  • Trailing Rosemary
  • Prostrate Rosemary
  • Creeping Rosemary

Trailing Rosemary Care

Size & Growth

When well cared for, Prostrate Rosemary grows to be about a foot high. Individual plants can spread 4′ to 8′ feet.

If left unpruned, a great deal of dead, woody matter can build up underneath fresh growth. 

When this happens, the plant may appear to attain a height of 2′ or 3′ feet, but this is an illusion.

This prostrate, evergreen shrub, produces grayish-green, needlelike, very aromatic leaves. 

The foliage of all Rosemary plants is commonly used as a cooking spice. 

It may also be included in sachets and the manufacture of personal care items.

Flowering & Fragrance

Creeping Rosemary’s tiny, two-lipped flowers are a pale, bluish shade of lavender. Some plants even produce white flowers. 

The flowers grow in clusters along the plants’ newer, woody stems.

In USDA zones 8 through 10, expect blooms to appear in January and persists through April. 

Additionally, Prostrate Rosemary may bloom sporadically throughout the summer and even into the autumn.

If kept indoors in containers, blooms will typically appear in the late spring and early summer.

The fragrant blossoms are especially attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Light & Temperature

Creeping Rosemary does best with full sunlight in a Mediterranean-like climate. 

The plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10.

In cooler climates, Prostrate Rosemary will grow in clay pots to be kept outdoors during warm weather and brought in during the cooler months.

When kept indoors, it’s important to choose a bright, sunny location where the plants will receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight daily. 

Cool room temperature around 60° to 65° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 18° C), a bit of humidity, and good air circulation are important to success when keeping these plants indoors for the winter.

Watering & Feeding

Deep occasional watering is best. 

Allow the soil surrounding the plant to dry out completely between waterings and then water thoroughly.

Use a granulated, balanced, 10 – 10 – 10 fertilizer every other month during the plants’ growing season. 

Work about four teaspoons of the product into the soil surrounding the plant and then water deeply.

Soil & Transplanting

  • Trailing Rosemary likes well-draining, slightly acidic, medium to dry soils. 
  • It will not do well in soil with heavy clay content. 
  • In wintertime, poorly draining, very wet soil will kill the plant.
  • The best time to transplant Prostrate Rosemary is in the autumn. 
  • Choose a full sun setting, and be sure the soil is light, airy, and well-draining.
  • Your planting hole should be about 2″ inches deeper than the size of the root ball. 
  • Add a little gravel or shredded bark to the soil to improve its drainage capability. 
  • Put a layer of white sand (about half an inch thick) around the plant to help prevent root rot and deter weed growth.
  • After planting, provide a thorough watering, but be sure the plant is not left standing in water.
  • Remember, this is an enthusiastically traveling plant, so you’ll want to provide 2′ or 3′ feet of space all the way around so your Trailing Rosemary plant can spread.

Grooming & Maintenance

Pruning after the first bloom will encourage a second bloom later in the season. 

Be sure to trim away any damaged or dangling branches, and keep dead growth aggressively pruned. 

If a lot of dead growth is allowed to remain, Creeping Rosemary becomes a fire hazard.

How To Propagate Rosmarinus Officinalis ‘Prostratus’

  • Grow Prostrate Rosemary from cuttings about 2″ inches long. 
  • Use new, soft growth for the cuttings. 
  • Strip away the bottom inch of leaves, and dip the stem of the cutting into rooting hormone. 
  • Place it in a slightly damp, sterile seed-starting mixture.
  • Place the potted cutting in a warm setting receiving bright, indirect sunlight. 
  • Provide daily misting for humidity and to keep the soil uniformly moist.
  • You should see a little new growth, and new roots should develop within a couple of weeks. 
  • When this happens, move the cutting into a larger pot.
  • In three months, your new plant should be big enough and strong enough to be moved outdoors into a full sun setting.

Rosmarinus Officinalis ‘Prostratus’ Main Pest or Disease Problems

This drought-tolerant herb is mostly pest resistant. 

Even so, it’s wise to be sure weeds are not allowed to grow up through the plant. 

Weeds attract spittlebugs, and these are a problem for Rosemary plants. 

If you see spittlebugs, spray them off with a strong blast of water from the garden hose.

When overwintering Creeping Rosemary indoors, you may find you have problems with powdery mildew

This is why it’s very important to maintain good air circulation around your indoor Rosemary plants.

Other fungal illnesses such as botrytis and root rot are worrisome, especially indoors. 

These are problematic if you overwater your outdoor Rosemary plants.

Indoor Rosemary is susceptible to common houseplant pests such as:

  • Spider mites
  • Whiteflies
  • Mealybugs
  • Aphids

Is Trailing Rosemary Toxic Or Poisonous?

Rosemary is non-toxic and is a common herb with many culinary and medicinal uses.

Is The Plant Invasive?

In USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10, Creeping Rosemary can indeed become invasive. 

This is yet another reason why it’s very important to keep the plant well pruned.

Suggested Trailing Rosemary Uses

In USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10, Prostrate Rosemary makes an excellent addition to your:

  • Foundation Plantings
  • Outdoor Containers
  • Seaside Garden
  • Perennial Bed
  • Herb Garden
  • Rockery
  • Borders

In addition to garden uses, there are many culinary and medicinal uses for Rosemary leaves. 

When you prune your plants, hang the stems to dry and then use the leaves in:

  • Meat and Fish Dishes
  • Soups and Stews
  • Vegetable Dishes
  • Herbal Vinegar
  • Herbal Butter
  • Stuffings
  • Bread

The flowers are also used in the creation of homemade personal care products.

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.