Rosemary does not require extensive pruning to retain its health and shape, but a little extra pruning and attention can help keep rosemary thriving and growing year after year. Pruning rosemary invigorates the plants and encourages abundant foliage and flowering. Timing and technique are important to avoid damaging the plant or limiting foliage production. Pruning rosemary also is part of harvesting the fragrant, edible leaves.
Rosemary originates in Mediterranean climates, where it grows year-round. The needle-like leaves have an aromatic scent and fresh flavor, and are commonly used in cooking. Rosemary is a small, woody shrub that grows 3 to 5 feet (about 91 to 152 cm) tall. It grows well in rocky soil with good drainage and a spot in the sun.
The best time to prune rosemary bushes is in spring, around late March or early April. At this stage in the growing season, the plants are producing new green growth but have not yet begun to flower. Pruning can be done anytime during the year, but some flowers will be lost. Rosemary can be pruned in the fall as well, as long as the plants have at least one month to recover before the first frosts.
Pruning rosemary for shape keeps the plants from becoming leggy and ungainly. The outer new growth should be removed with a pair of sharp shears to create a rounded shrub. Cutting back the top of the plant encourages growth laterally, creating a low-growing, bushy shrub.
Hard pruning should be avoided when pruning rosemary, as it can result in bare spots. The old wood close to the stem does not produce new growth, so if the plant is pruned all the way back to the old wood, it is unlikely to recover. One can trim up rosemary by removing new growth from the tips of the branches. Pruning rosemary back to the trunk only is suitable when creating a tree-like shape; the branches can be removed at the bottom of the shrub and left at the top.
As a culinary herb, rosemary clippings can go straight to the kitchen at pruning time. Harvesting rosemary as needed keeps the plants consistently trimmed up and provides a supply of fresh rosemary for cooking. The best way to harvest rosemary is to clip the top 4 inches (about 10 cm) from the tip of each branch. On small plants, remove only 20 percent of the length of the branch to avoid cutting back to old, unproductive wood.
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My favorite thing about rosemary isn’t the taste or smell (although I do like those) it’s the legend of how it got the name "rosemary".
The story goes that rosemary had plain white flowers until Mary (the mother of Jesus) spread her blue clock over a bush while she was resting and the flowers turned blue.
After that it was called the "rose of Mary" which eventually became rosemary over time. Unfortunately, while in some places it seems to be fairly hardy, I’ve never managed to grow it successfully myself. The plants always turn out fairly stunted or die before they get any growth on them.
So I don’t really need tips on pruning rosemary, but a how to grow rosemary guide could be useful. irontoenail June 1, 2013
If you have to cut back a lot of rosemary and you aren’t sure that it will keep well you might want to think about putting some of it into a food drier and preserving it that way. If you’re pruning lavender, it will work quite well in this as well.
Alternatively, if you don’t mind waiting a bit longer, rosemary can be dried if hung from the ceiling in bunches. browncoat May 31, 2013
If you’ve got a lot of rosemary and you don’t mind leaving a few bare patches you might want to harvest a few rosemary skewers for use in the kitchen, particularly when you’re having barbecues.
Cutting back rosemary often becomes necessary because it grows like a weed in some places. If you make sure to get several long, straight twigs in your pruning you can then use them for kebabs.
The scent and flavor of the rosemary enters the meat or vegetables that are skewered on the twigs. You can use them a couple of times before composting them.
In my garden, right next to the cottage I have a large rosemary bush. Every year I harvest that rosemary to dry it and preserve it for later use and give some of it to my friends. I learned some basic things about when and how to do harvest rosemary without killing the plant, and what to avoid in the whole process. If you have a rosemary plant or a friend with a plant in their garden you might have the opportunity to pick fresh rosemary. Here is the info on when and how to harvest your rosemary, for drying or smudging, in the bloom and at end of the season.
Table of Contents
When to Harvest – Right Harvesting Time
How long to harvest rosemary? This fragrant, vigorous, and evergreen herb can be harvested all year round although the best harvesting time is in summer, just before or during flowering when the aromatic oils are at their peak and the essence of the plant is best preserved. I also collect all my cuttings at the pruning time.
What is the best time of the day for harvest? Mid-morning is the best time to cut the stems to allow the previous night’s dew to dry and to avoid the height heat of the day.
Above photo: My rosemary plant in the full bloom, ready for harvesting
How to harvest rosemary without killing the plant – step by step
Here are the steps to cut rosemary without killing the plant:
- Step 1: Choose the right time to harvest – avoid harvesting in the winter (the dormant season)
- Step 2: Select new shoots from the plant that is at least 20 cm long
- Step 3: Cut the stems on about 3/4 of the plant max
- Step 4: Leave at least 1/4 of the branch intact with as many leaves as possible
- Step 5: Water the plant thoroughly
- Step 6: Add some fertilizer to help the plant to recover
- Step 7: Monitor your plant or bush regularly to spot any unusual development
If you have rosemary in your garden, then keep trimming some of the plants off regularly, like once a fortnight to encourage its growth. Unless your plan is to dry, don’t cut more than you need. If you cut more than needed, store your fresh rosemary in an airtight container, keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze.
Rosemary will grow pretty much all season, so continue to water and feed it and it will keep giving back and you’ll keep having even more rosemary you can use in your recipes.
Do you have to dry rosemary before you use it? No, you don’t have to dry rosemary before you use it. When you’re going to harvest your rosemary you just need to take as much as you need for your recipe. If you only need a little bit of rosemary for your recipe you just want to clip a little bit. I love to use rosemary when I’m marinating vegetables or I cut longer and older stems to use it as a skewer and squeeze my meat cubes right on it and put it directly on the grill. So, get some longer, woody stems which are great for skewers.
Above photo: My this year’s harvest
Harvesting Rosemary For Drying
If your intention is to dry the rosemary, it is better to wait with harvest until the plant begins to bloom, when tiny leaves contain the most flavor and the oil and drying at this time will preserve its fragrance, aroma, and flavor. The leaves and flowers are now full of aromatic oils that will release in sauces, marinades, stews, or soups. Its aroma will flavor vegetables or meat in many dishes. When harvesting mature rosemary plants with a lot of woody stems use the garden shears instead of scissors.
Video – Harvesting Rosemary
Here is a video of me harvesting my rosemary bush that I grew from cuttings
Tools you need
Harvesting is a simple process, you just need a pair of scissors for new stems or garden pruners for woody stems as in the above photo.
In my next article, I will tell you how to dry rosemary and how to harvest rosemary seeds – how to pick seeds from rosemary flowers to save them for seeding.
Rosemary is a popular herb for use in the kitchen, especially for chicken and other recipes. If you decide to grow your own rosemary, it’s best if you dry it after it’s picked so that it lasts a lot longer. Fortunately, this is not a complicated project even for people who have never done anything so productive. As long as you follow certain steps and take your time, your rosemary should come out perfect, and you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment to get the job done correctly.
Harvesting Rosemary for Drying
If you’ve never dried herbs before, not to worry because the first step — harvesting rosemary — is a lot easier than you think.
You’ll need to start by visiting your herb garden either in the spring or the summer months because that’s when rosemary grows more abundantly. If the shrub is beginning to bloom, this is the best time to harvest your rosemary because this is when it has the most flavor and the most oil. If you’re going to use the rosemary right away, however, it doesn’t matter if the plant is blooming or not.
- When you go to harvest the rosemary, you’ll want to choose large branches instead of the smaller ones. If they are a minimum of eight inches long, these are the best ones to choose.
- Take small pruning shears and cut through the new stems, which are soft, instead of the older stems that tend to be hard and woody. The latter is also found near the base of the branch, so it should be easy to tell which stems are older and which ones are brand-new.
- Snip only two inches or so from the tip of the branch and make sure that the branch that is remaining has some needles on it so that it can grow properly in the future.
If you’re curious where to start once you find yourself staring at a shrub full of aromatic rosemary, you should start with the branches that are biggest or the most overgrown.
If you’re going to use the rosemary for some type of decoration and not to cook with, make sure that you shape the sprig to keep it at its natural rounded shape. If you’re planning to cook with it and/or dry it, this won’t matter because you’ll likely crush it up before you use it anyway.
Remember to keep the cutting to around two to four inches, or 20% of the branch’s size, for the best results.
If you cut the rosemary sprigs in mid-morning after the dew has dried and before the worst heat of the day has had a chance to hit, you’ll get the best results.
For drying purposes, you can use both the small needles and the twigs they’re growing on because both are flavorful and smell terrific. Ideally, you’ll want to dry or preserve the rosemary immediately upon harvesting it, but if this isn’t possible, wrap the herbs in a paper towel and keep them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to proceed.
Always remember to leave roughly 80% of the branches behind when you’re harvesting the rosemary. This is necessary in order to get a full, attractive look the next time that it’s ready to harvest, and to make sure that there is enough there to harvest when you’re ready. If you’re planning to dry the herbs, it’s best not to wait too long after you pick the rosemary because as soon as you cut the twigs, the herb starts to deteriorate. Herbs simply dry much better and taste better in the end when you dry them while they’re fresh. The harvesting of your rosemary shrubs is just as important as the drying process; fortunately, this is something very easy for you to learn.
What Is Rosemary?
Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that is relatively small and grows best in USDA growing zones 8-10. It is a sturdy plant that can tolerate droughts, and when you wish to use it on a regular basis, you have two options: pick it whenever you wish to use it, and pick large amounts of it then dry it so that you can use it in the future. The choice is yours, but you definitely should try these delicious herbs at least once because it has an almost tangy and quite unique flavor that you’ll quickly wonder how you’ve lived without all these years.
If you are growing Rosemary for drying purposes you could wait until the plant has just begun to bloom. This is when the plant has its maximum oil content and flavor. All you need is a pair of kitchen sheers and a harvesting basket.
When should you cut back rosemary?
The best time to prune is early spring, but there is a second chance now, once flowering is over. Remove the spent flowers and cut the stems back to a pair of leaves on no more than a third of the overall plant. Next spring, cut another third and you‘ll find your herbs will stay in a good productive shape.
How do you pick rosemary so it keeps growing?
Rosemary tolerates heavy harvesting when it’s done correctly, so even a single plant can be a productive herb garden addition.
- Harvest rosemary at any time when it’s actively growing in the spring and summer.
- Cut through the branch with small shears.
- Remove no more than 20 percent of the branch’s length when harvesting.
Does rosemary grow back after cutting?
You can do light pruning and harvesting any time of year, but a rosemary plant responds best to hard pruning in winter when it isn’t actively growing. When pruned in winter, the plant grows back in spring looking better than ever. Read on to find out how to rejuvenate a rosemary shrub.
How often should rosemary be watered?
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine when a rosemary plant needs water because its needles do not wilt as broad leaves do. On average, water rosemary every 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the plant size and climate conditions. Allow the plants to dry out thoroughly between each watering.
Do you wash rosemary before drying?
1. Hang it. Rinse and gently pat your rosemary sprigs dry with paper towels. Hang them up in a well-ventilated area to dry—you can dry your bundle indoors, or you can dry it outside (on the porch, for example), covering the bundle with a ventilated paper bag to shield the herbs from dust or pests.
Does Rosemary like coffee grounds?
Coffee grounds are good for Rosemary and highly recommended for herbs when you want to have a healthy plants that grows to yield the best seeds, leaves, and fruits. These grounds have been used for centuries in Italy and many other countries to enhance the health and beauty of the roses that are so prized.
Should you let Rosemary flower?
Caring for rosemary plants
Rosemary requires little maintenance during the year except cutting back after flowering to prevent plants becoming straggly and woody. Save the trimmings to propagate new plants or dry them for cooking. Rosemary does well in containers in a soil-based, peat-free compost.
How do you shape a rosemary bush?
Trim off the tips of lanky shoots by at least one-half, cutting at a 45-degree angle, in early spring. Cut the entire plant back in late winter to early spring to renovate an older rosemary. Don’t trim past the lowest cluster of your rosemary’s needlelike foliage when pruning to rejuvenate a plant.
Why do my rosemary plants keep dying?
Constant moisture causes rosemary roots to rot, leading to brown rosemary needles as the root system shrinks. Increasing drainage or waiting to water until the top 2 inches of soil are dry to the touch is often all these plants need to thrive.
Can I eat the rosemary in my yard?
Common rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is desirable for its beautiful spring blooms, hardy nature and versatility. Because common rosemary is edible, all varieties are edible, but they do slightly vary in flavor and in their growth habits.
What can I do with rosemary leaves?
7 Unique Uses For Rosemary You May Not Know About
- Rosemary And Lemon Potpourri. Place fresh rosemary and lemon on the stove to have a simmering batch of goodness to have your home smelling fresh.
- Dryer Sheets.
- Bath Salt.
- Pest Control.
- Essential Oil.
- Air Freshener.
How do you keep rosemary from getting woody?
So to keep Rosemary from going woody it is necessary to prune the plant regularly. Every Rosemary plant will become woody over time, which is completely normal. But the growth of new leaves and young shoots can be encouraged by pruning the Rosemary plant regularly and by feeding and watering it.
How do I care for a rosemary bush?
Water rosemary plants evenly throughout the growing season, but be careful not to overwater. Prune regularly so that plants won’t get lanky. For fresh rosemary in the winter, grow the plant indoors in a pot (or take a cutting from an outdoor plant and keep a second indoors).
Most farmers do not harvest rosemary for the first 15-21 months after sowing or plants establishment. From the second year onwards, they harvest once or twice a year.
As a rule of thumb, if you grow rosemary for plant material, you shall prefer young shoots and you may have to harvest two or more times per year, in order to promote new growth.
If you grow rosemary for essential oil, knowing when exactly to harvest is very important for the quantity and quality of essential oil. It requires extensive research and constant “trial and error” effort. First you have to decide if you plan to produce essential oil from leaves, flowers, stems or all of the above (distill the whole plant). Stems and leaves -when distilled- can normally produce essential oil of higher quantity but of lower quality, compared to the flowers.
Many professional rosemary growers have reported that harvesting stems and leaves exactly before the flowering results in essential oil of superior quality, while harvesting stems and leaves after the flowering often results in smelly product. However, these are just some common practices that should not be followed without making your own research. In other cases, growers wait until some plants bloom and then they collect only the flowers, which -after distillation- give a high quality essential oil, but normally of very low quantity.
In many countries, rosemary is harvested mechanically via machines attached to tractors. Those machines cut the stems in predefined length in order to promote new growth. In developing countries, farmers harvest rosemary by hand. They cut the stems with special knives and they often let them dry in the sun for 2-3 days, provided there isn’t a risk of rainfall.
You can enrich this article by leaving a comment or photo of your rosemary plants harvesting methods and techniques.
9.) Rosemary Harvest
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Rosemary is a good source of many types of vitamins and essential nutrients that suffice the nourishing requirements of a human being. Additionally, rosemary is found to be beneficial to the extent of providing cure for many serious illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, asthma, cancer, etc.
Interestingly, due to its fresh and woody fragrance, many manufacturers have been using rosemary as a body perfume, through its natural oil.
In the culinary world, rosemary is often used as an added spice in all types of meat, especially when roasted, and is commonly combined with some lemon and thyme.
These are just some of the things that you can do with either fresh or preserved rosemary. Imagine what more other dishes you can experiment with and what other products to create if you grow and harvest your own rosemary plant.
Read through this entire article and discover how you can harvest rosemary while keeping the entire plant thriving.
If you are situated in the warmer region of the earth and would like to have a fairly bushy garden that needs no high maintenance, rosemary can be one of your best options to grow. This herb thrives well in warm places, plus its thick and vigorous growth can help add a strong touch if you’re planning on putting up a rock garden in your front yard.
While rosemary is considerably a low maintenance plant, there are still some growing requirements that you need to take into account if you want to properly grow rosemary on your own.
- Weather Conditions
Rosemary adapts well to high temperature and humidity. It can tolerate as low as 30 degrees F but any more degrees lower than that and you will have to bring your rosemary indoors or it will suffer from damages. This is also the very reason why rosemary is more preferred to be grown in containers instead directly on the ground.
- Sun Exposure
Full sun is always the best for your rosemary. As much as possible, it needs at least 6 hours of sunlight everyday, whether you are growing it outdoors or indoors. If you are doing the latter, make sure that the sun exposure requirements are still met by going to the extent of using artificial light. It will also help if you will place your rosemary by the window where natural light can pass through.
- Soil Requirements
Rosemary thrives in a loamy, well-drained soil with a pH between six and seven. It can also tolerate poor soil, but you could still use a bit of fertilizer to aid its vigorous growth.
It being fairly drought-tolerant, watering rosemary is not totally necessary to be done more frequently. Only water your herb when the soil has completely dried out, but be careful not to overwater it; you just need to moisten the soil. Rosemary is originally grown in the rocky hillsides of the Mediterranean, thus it does not grow well when its roots are way too soaked with water.
Surprisingly, rosemary can grow into a massive, thick plant especially in warmer areas that is why it is recommended to allot about 3 feet of space between each rosemary plant to allow it to grow without risking overlapping with each other.
Pro tip: this spacing will be easily maintained if you plant your rosemary in a container so you can quickly transfer it from one place to another especially before the first frost comes.
- Companion Planting
Rosemary and broccoli are mutually beneficial with each other so you might want to plant them alongside each other. Rosemary is also proven to be a good companion plant of beans, cabbages, carrots, and hot peppers as rosemary helps repel pests and encourage other plants to flourish.
If you want to make the most out of your rosemary plant, you might want to make your first harvest during the spring and summer when the temperature is high and the rosemary is at its most active state.
During this season, rosemary grows faster than usual so the sprigs that you harvest will immediately grow back. You can harvest daily or weekly, as needed. Harvesting rosemary regularly will encourage it to grow more and produce fresher leaves.
You will also know that your rosemary is ready for harvest when you measure some of its branches and they are already 8 inches high. Branches shorter than 8 inches should be left behind to give them more time to mature.
Process Of Harvesting Rosemary
Rosemary can tolerate both single and heavy harvesting for as long as you are doing it the proper way.
- Harvest rosemary when it is most active, particularly during spring and summer and pick only those branches that are 8 inches tall or longer.
- Using garden shears, cut the tender, top portion of the rosemary. Avoid cutting the hard and woody stems which are found at the base of the plant.
- To make sure that you don’t kill the plant while making your harvest, l
- Leave at least ¾ of the plant for it to continue to grow. For instance, if a branch is already 8 inches long, just snip off 2 inches of it and leave 6 inches intact.
- If you are not harvesting in large amounts, you might want to prioritize harvesting the longer and overgrown branches first.
- Since rosemary is known for its rapid and vigorous growth, you can also take this opportunity to trim your rosemary and keep its shape compact and orderly.
Storing And Using
During the hot season, your garden is probably overflowing with new and fresh rosemary so harvesting everyday won’t definitely be a problem. However, when the winter comes how are you supposed to fill your kitchen and spice up your favorite dishes with rosemary’s tea-like and peppery aroma? The answer? Know how to store and preserve them in various ways possible.
Learn how to harvest rosemary easily with simple instructions. If you are a connoisseur of Mediterranean cuisines you should probably know the importance of Rosemary. Rosemary is a robust herb that gives a wonderful flavor and fragrance to our food.
Are you familiar with the meaning of Rosemary? It means the ‘dew of the sea’. According to the ancient Greeks, the rosemary plant is also called ‘Anthos’, meaning flower. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a popular fragrant herb for kitchen use and garden beauty.
Its uniqueness in terms of utility is so rich and wide that people across the globe have shown immense interest to grow and harvest Rosmarinus at home. You can use rosemary leaves to garnish soups, bread, sauces, and various vegetable recipes.
It’s very simple to harvest rosemary and use it fresh or store it for later use in lip-smacking recipes or for home remedies to make cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos. So naturally, planting rosemary will be the best idea if you have a small yard to grow plants.
To be honest, harvesting Rosemary leaves indoors or in your garden is not a tough task whatsoever. With gentle hands and precise movements of your scissors, you can easily get a bunch of freshly harvested leaves.
These grow well in the mild-warm climate of Mediterranean soil under optimum conditions. If you are good at gardening, growing Rosemary should not be a ‘task’ per se.
However, there are some specific guidelines that you need to consider before harvesting those fresh green leaves.
Things to Consider Before Harvesting Rosemary
Caring for the rosemary plant starts with planting the seed. Before beginning with the whole procedure you need to understand if the Rosemary bush has reached its harvesting stage.
It is advised not to abruptly run scissors through the plant before checking certain criteria such as the harvestable stage.
1. Rosemary grows most actively in the spring and summer. Hence, the best time to harvest is during such seasons.
If you cut the Rosemary sprigs during this time of the year, they will rapidly grow back and provide with profusely dense leaves.
You may also trim apical portions of the bush so that Auxin can act upon these cuttings in order to increase its growth.
2. If you are planning to get dried Rosemary, it is recommended to wait till the Rosemary bush begins to bloom.
You should harvest a full-bloomed bush if you want to get that perfect fragrance of essential oils emitting from the flower and the rusty flavor from the leaves.
3. A healthy plant is always good for harvesting. For healthy herbs, it is suggested to plant your seeds in a container or in your garden based on your convenience.
Make sure that the seeds are embedded deep within the soil. This will ensure the germination of the plant in a complete dark condition which is also considered as an ideal condition. Watering 3-4 times a week is of utmost importance.
4. Loosening the soil is also necessary so that air can get into it a little. Remember rosemary plants love soils that drain easily. You can mix some organic compost with your dense soil to make it airy.
Also, try to keep them under direct sunlight for at least 5-6 hours every day.
5. Rosemary cannot withstand cold weather and is not able to grow or germinate during the cold harsh winters.
Hence if you are planning to start germinating the seeds, it is better to grow them indoors by creating an artificial condition of 24-28degree Celsius temperature supported with artificial light sources in the form of light bulbs.
If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, then you must plant rosemary in a container.
So you can bring it inside your home at the time of harsh frosty weather. If you live in highly temperate weather then you can plant it either in a planter or in the garden.
Plan the step of sowing seeds at least six months before the onset of winters for the best results.
Things to Consider When Harvesting Rosemary
- Always harvest fresh Rosemary Sprigs. However, all sprigs cannot be cut off from the bush at random. Before plucking leaves, make sure the selected branch is at least 8-10 inches in length.
- Always use shears or scissors to cut the leaves. Do not use your bare hands as they will impose considerable force and the plants might be unable to withstand such mechanical pressure and perish instead.
- Never cut more than 15-20 percent of the branch. If you need only 6-8 leaves at a certain time, it is better to pick them from the topmost branches of the sprigs. This also answers the question, how to harvest Rosemary so it keeps growing. Remember not to pluck more leaves than you require, as it will alter the growth of the sprigs in turn.
- Rosemary sprigs are needed to be dried before use. To achieve that, you need to tie some evenly sized sprigs together into a bundle and leave them in a dark and dry place with moderate ventilation for 10-days. Any sort of moisture will dry away by this time and you can store them either in the freezer inside an airtight bag or ice trays by adding some vegetable oil inside the tray.
- When used fresh, rosemary plants have the most intense flavor and fragrance but drying and storing them for the whole year can give you the leverage of using it any time of the year.
How to Harvest Rosemary without Killing the Plant
To keep your plant intact while harvesting, you need to cut only the top 2-3 inches of the sprigs and leave the fresh green leaves beneath them. This will ensure the regrowth of the branches faster and swifter.
How to Harvest Rosemary to Promote Growth
The growth of Rosemary is promoted mainly by two plant hormones; Auxin and Cytokinin. During harvesting, you should try to only cut 20% or 1/4th of any branch so that some leaves are still left on each branch.
These hormones will act on these leaf axes, create leaf meristems, and generate new leaves.
These were the basic tips and tricks to harvesting Rosemary leaves. Hopefully, with the above-mentioned guidelines, you will be able to grow and harvest a good amount of Rosemary leaves for your various purposes.
This amazing herb is a great choice for multiple uses and you would know better how to play around with its absolute uniqueness and functionality. So if you have a small Indoor garden then planting rosemary will be the best idea for you.
Treat rosemary with respect; it can easily overpower more delicate herbs. Rosemary is traditionally used with lamb or pork, as well as in tea; it’s also excellent combined with a little lemon juice and chopped parsley and sprinkled on chicken before it’s baked. Rosemary is one of the traditional strewing herbs; in the language of flowers, its message is “remember.”
Where to Grow Rosemary
Rosemary can handle climates a bit below freezing and tolerates cold better in a sandy, well-drained location, but it’s not very hardy north of Washington, D.C. If your climate is cold, plan on mulching it for winter protection.
Soil for Growing Rosemary
Like most herbs, rosemary is most fragrant and full of flavor if grown in well-drained, sandy soil that’s high in organic matter but not over-rich. Less than ideal conditions improve its fragrance. Very fertile soil will produce beautiful plants but decrease the production of the aromatic oils on which the plant’s fragrance depends. Don’t fertilize the soil if you’re planting rosemary, except maybe if you’re growing it as a perennial in a mild winter climate. In this case, work a low-nitrogen (5-10-10) fertilizer into the soil before planting at the rate of about a half-pound per 100 square feet.
When to Grow Rosemary
To grow rosemary from seed, start the seeds indoors or in a cold frame four to six weeks before your average date of last frost. Two weeks after the average date of last frost, transplant them to a full sun location with a foot or more between the plants and 18 to 24 inches between rows.
How to Grow Rosemary
Rosemary is commonly started from stem cuttings or by layering. It can be propagated from seed, but germination is very slow (25 days at 65°F). Pot a rosemary plant from the garden in fall and bring it into the house for winter use. In the spring, take stem cuttings to propagate your new crop.
|Germination||60 – 70 F|
|Soil and Water|
|pH||4.5 – 8.7|
|Planting Depth||1 – 2″|
|Height||1 – 5′|
|Width||3 – 6′|
|Space between plants|
|in rows||4 – 6″|
|space between rows||12 – 15′|
|Companions||Cabbage, Beans, Carrots, and Sage|
|Harvest rosemary after new growth is generated, typically 6 weeks after planting. Do not cut any parts that appear woody, as this will damage the plant.|
How to Cultivate Rosemary
Do not fertilize at mid-season. If the weather is dry, water regularly to keep the soil moist and prevent the roots from drying out.
|Clip individual rosemary leaves or tips of stems as needed. Keep fresh rosemary in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Retain maximum flavor by freezing rosemary. Either freeze entire branches on cookie sheets, then strip the leaves from the stems and put back into the freezer in plastic containers; or mix finely chopped rosemary leaves with just enough olive oil to bind them together, and freeze the mixture in ice cubes. Store the rosemary for longer periods by hanging bundles of the stems to dry in a warm, dry, dark place. Once dry, keep the leaves in an airtight container.|
|Fresh||Excellent; cuttings last 2-7 days in the refrigerator|
How Rosemary Grows
Rosemary is a strongly flavored, half-hardy, evergreen shrub. It’s a perennial, but it’s grown as an annual in areas with frigid winters. With its aromatic, needle-shaped, blue-green leaves, it is easily identifiable. Different varieties are available; tall upright kinds and tumbling prostrate forms. Not all are very hardy, so choose carefully. It produces pale blue, white, or pink flowers in late spring, and it varies in height from 2 to 5 feet, depending on the variety.
You can take some of the leaves, which look like short pine needles and use them fresh any time you want them. Growth can be pruned back several times during a season. Dry the leaves and store them in airtight containers. Rosemary and other hard herbs also freeze quite well. Wash and dry them off in cold water, and place them in a plastic bag or container in the freezer for a few weeks. The leaves should separate easily from the stem and keep for quite a while if left in the freezer.