How to Grow Rosemary - Backyard Boss
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How to Grow Rosemary

Cultivated since ancient times for its culinary, ornamental, and medicinal value, rosemary is a versatile herb that makes an elegant addition to your garden or window display. It’s also very straightforward to grow.

Though many nurseries propagate rosemary from cuttings, you can certainly grow it from seed. However, rosemary has a long germination time with a poor success rate, meaning that for each plant you want, you will need to try at least four seeds–and be patient!

Rosemary hails from the Mediterranean coast and prefers similarly warm and humid environments. It also hates sitting in wet soil. That’s why your best bet is to grow rosemary in indoor containers before transplanting it to a garden bed or pot.

In this guide, we’ll look step-by-step at how to grow rosemary from seed.

What You’ll Need

Rosemary plants in pots
Image credits: Samantha Chapnick via Creative Commons

You’ll need a few inexpensive supplies to get your rosemary started:

  • Rosemary seeds
  • Well-draining soil (seed-starting mix)
  • Containers, such as a seed-starting tray
  • A spray bottle filled with water
  • Plastic wrap or a seed-starting dome
  • A shallow dish wide enough for your containers

Step 1: Fill the Containers

Potting soil
Image credits: Alicia Christin Gerald via Unsplash

Lightly moisten your seed-starting mix and add it to the containers. Place four rosemary seeds on top of each container, then cover them lightly with the soil. It ensures that they stay warm while still receiving sunlight as they germinate.

Mist each container with the spray bottle until the top layer is moist, then cover them with plastic wrap or a plastic seed-starting dome.

Step 2: Monitor the Seedlings

Rosemary seedlings
Image credits: Aris Papachristou via Creative Commons

Your containers should sit in a warm, sunny spot, such as on a windowsill. If you can’t find a suitable space in your home, think about investing in a heat mat or full-spectrum lamp.

Over the next two to three weeks, monitor your seedlings carefully. If the soil appears dry, carefully lift the plastic cover and mist lightly with water.

Step 3: Place the Containers in Shallow Water

Potted rosemary on windowsill indoors, space for text. Aromatic herb
Image credits: New Africa via Shutterstock

As soon as you see the seedlings start to emerge, fill a shallow tray with water and place your rosemary containers on it. It will allow water to soak in gradually through the drainage holes.

Just make sure that your container remains in full sunlight as the seedlings continue to grow.

Step 4: Plant Your Rosemary

Closeup image of a woman preparing to plant rosemary tree for home gardening concept
Image credits: Farknot Architect via Shutterstock

Once the seedlings reach three inches, it’s time to plant them. If you’re in a location with mild winters and the weather is currently warm, plant the young rosemary outside in a garden bed straight away.

However, many gardeners choose to keep their rosemary in pots to protect it from the cold. It allows you to move it inside when the weather changes or keep it inside year-round. Equip the pot with crocks in the bottom to promote good drainage.

Whether your rosemary is in the ground or a pot, make sure that it gets around six to eight hours of sun per day and that the soil is fast-draining, not too peaty, and incorporates plenty of compost. If your garden soil is more clay-based than loamy, break it up by digging some grit into it.

Don’t let your rosemary share soil with crops that need a lot of water, or it may develop root roots. Rosemary needs only a moderate amount of water.

Keep in mind that if conditions are favorable, your rosemary may grow vigorously once it gets established. If you want to keep it to a reasonable size while encouraging productive growth, prune away the dead or broken shoots and faded flowers after each growing season.

Companion Planting with Rosemary

Freshly harvested carrots
Image credits: Jonathan Kemper via Unsplash

Whether you plant your rosemary in the ground or a pot, consider companion planting. Rosemary’s powerful fragrance makes it an excellent neighbor to vegetables whose own scents attract harmful pests. 

If you’re growing root vegetables (especially carrots and parsnips), brassicas (such as broccoli and cabbage), or beans, try placing your rosemary nearby. Its scent will deter insects that frequently target these crops.

Say Hello To Rosemary

Growing rosemary is a simple and rewarding project. If you’re successful in getting your rosemary off on the right foot, it will last for decades, making your garden not only look but also smell wonderful!

Best of all, rosemary is an evergreen. That means you’ll be able to enjoy it year-round in your soups, stews, and homemade butter.

Let us know what you think about growing rosemary, and as always, please share!