Growing Rosemary

RosemaryNative to the Mediterranean and favored by many herb gardeners, growing rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is popular for its medicinal and culinary qualities. As a decorative shrub, its rich aroma and blue-green, needle-like foliage makes it a favorite addition to any border. As a culinary herb, its leaves may be used fresh or dried to complement meat dishes, stews and vegetables. In ancient times, rosemary was associated with fidelity and memory. Tender perennial shrub grows 1-4 feet tall.

Site Preparation:

Like most Mediterranean herbs, rosemary can tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions, but does best in light, well drained conditions. It requires plenty of light and protection from frost. Rosemary does very well in containers and can be grown in a sunny window, year-round.

How to Plant:

Sow seeds indoors several months before setting plants outdoors. Germination occurs in 2-3 weeks and the seedlings grow very slowly. Do not over water. Rosemary has tender roots and care should be taken at transplanting time not to disturb them. To propagate established plants, take cuttings of semi-woody growth in spring or fall. To prevent wilting, place cuttings in water as soon as they are removed from the plant. Rosemary benefits from frequent pruning at any time of year; do not hesitate to cut it back severely.


Harvest leaves anytime throughout the year for fresh use. Pick in the morning for best flavor. Cut 3-4 inches from one branch rather than cutting 1/2 inch from a number of branches. To dry, tie the cuttings in small bunches and hang upside down in a well-ventilated, dark room.

Insects and Disease:

Rosemary is susceptible to whitefly and spider mite. Keep an eye out for these pests and apply least-toxic, natural pest controls, when necessary. Damp conditions will encourage botrytis rot. Remove infected plants to prevent spread of the disease.

Note: Rosemary is said to deter bean beetles, cabbage moth, and carrot rust fly.

Seed Saving Instructions:

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