How to Propagate Rosemary – The Easy Way
We absolutely love growing herbs in our backyard garden. We grow a variety of different culinary and medicinal herbs but one of our favorites to grow is – Rosemary. It is aromatic and really enhances the flavor of some of our favorite dishes so we always want an abundance on hand to use. It is super easy to propagate rosemary from cuttings.
Rosemary is a great herb to grow in your backyard garden. It adds a great flavor and an incredible aroma to your meals. We love using it to season our oven roasted potatoes.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial herb that grows well in USDA Hardiness zones 7 and above where it can be planted outdoors year round. Rosemary is quite the vigorous bush that can grow up to 4 feet tall and even spreads up to 4-5 feet wide or as big as you will let it get.
In areas colder than zone 7 – Rosemary can be grown in containers so that you can bring it in during the coldest months. It may not always look great during those cold winter months but it will bounce back in the spring as long as you have provided the best care.
Benefits of Propagating Rosemary From Cuttings
Propagating Rosemary from cuttings can be very beneficial because rather having to purchase new plants from your local nursery or big box store – you will be ahead of the game.
- Earlier Harvest: A rooted rosemary plant from a cutting will mature quicker than a plant started from seed. Rosemary seeds tend to have low germination rates and take a long time to sprout and grow. A rosemary stem cutting will reach a usable size in just a few months, so you will be able to harvest rosemary sooner.
- Same as the Mother Plant: The rosemary plant you will grow from cuttings will be an exact clone of the mother plant and have the same flavor, disease resistance, and growth.
- Extra Plants for Free: A single plant can provide numerous cuttings without risking the health of the plant. So you can line your kitchen windowsill with several plants that will smell wonderful when you brush your hand against them.
When should I take Rosemary cuttings?
The first thing you need to consider when propagating rosemary and other woody perennials is – the time of year when you are going to do it. Rosemary is a herb that you can propagate from cuttings. There are two types of cuttings you can take in order to propagate a new plant.
The first type of cutting you can make is a hardwood cutting. These are generally taken late in the growing season when the stems have become woody. These cuttings should be taken in the fall.
The second type of cutting you can make is a softwood cutting. These are generally taken in the spring when fresh growth has emerged. These cuttings tend to be easier to propagate than hardwood cuttings and usually have a higher success rate.
How to Propagate Rosemary from cuttings
Since you have decided to propagate rosemary from cuttings and you have decided what type of cutting you want to use – it is time to actually take the cuttings. You will need a few things when taking cuttings. First, you will need a pair of clean and very sharp pruners in order to take the cuttings. A glass or other type of container to put the cuttings into after taking them. That is really all there is to it!
How do I take cuttings from a rosemary bush?
Take your pruners and clip off 4-6 inch cuttings off of the plant.
I always take more cuttings that I need to make sure my chances are better. If you want two new plants – then take about 6-8 cuttings.
You can always give some of them away if they all grow roots. Who wouldn’t want some free rosemary plants?
How do you propagate rosemary in water?
After taking the cuttings from the mother plant – take any leaves off of the bottom 2-3 inches. This bottom 2-3 inches will be inserted into the water and will rot if left on the stem.
Place your cuttings into the clean water with the end where the leaves have been removed. Leave the stems in the water until they grow roots. Make sure to change out the water every couple of days to keep it fresh and to prevent algae from growing in the water. It should take anywhere from 7-30 days for the stem cuttings to sprout roots.
How To Propagate Rosemary By Air-Layering
- Spring is the best time of year to air-layer rosemary.
- Select a long healthy branch from a well-established rosemary plant.
- Bend the branch down to the soil. Dig a hole deep enough to bury the stem where the branch touches the soil.
- Remove the leaves from the section of the stem that will be buried. Using a sharp knife, peel and scrape the outer layer of the stem. Be sure not to cut through the stem. This wound is where the roots will start to grow.
- Bury the cut portion of the stem in the soil leaving the top portion of the branch above the soil. Use a stake or weight to hold the branch down in place.
- Keep the soil moist. Check every few weeks for root development. After a root ball has formed, separate the plants by cutting the branch connecting the mother plant to the new plant. Transplant the new plant into a container or in the ground in a different location.
How to Plant Rosemary Cuttings
Once your cuttings have sprouted roots – Fill a 4-inch pot with slightly damp potting soil for each rosemary cutting. Use a pencil to make a 3 to 4 inch hole into the soil. Place the cutting in the hole with care to avoid damaging the roots. Cover gently and water thoroughly.
Place the newly potted rosemary plant in indirect light or in filtered sunlight until roots become established, and then move to direct light, at least 6 to 8 hours per day. Keep the potting soil moist until you see new growth.
Let the new plants put on some growth before harvesting. Once the plant is 6-inches tall, harvest by cutting stems as needed. New growth will continue forming on the stem. Rosemary grows slowly so don’t harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at one time.
How to care for your new Rosemary plants
Rosemary is a rather robust and hardy plant once it is established and growing as I mentioned earlier. Here are some tips to keeping your Rosemary plants healthy and producing:
- Grow in a sunny location. Rosemary thrives in 6-8 hours of direct sun in the summertime.
- Water when the soil feels dry. Once established, rosemary likes to stay on the dry side. Allow top inch of soil to dry out between watering, and then water thoroughly.
- Re-pot as the plant gets larger and the roots fill the container. A rosemary plant that grows in a container can reach 1 to 3 feet high. Just keep transplanting to a larger container when the roots fill the pot.
- Prune rosemary frequently. The more you trim, the bushier the plant grows. Prune the plant after it flowers to keep it compact.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you propagate store-bought rosemary?
A: Yes! If the rosemary is freshly cut, you should be able to use them for cuttings. If the stems are not fresh, they may be dehydrated and your success rate will be low.
Q: How long does it take for rosemary to grow from a seed?
A: It takes about 3 months to grow rosemary plants from seed. Germination takes 2-3 weeks, then the plants require a few months to increase in size.
Q: How long does it take for rosemary cuttings to root?
A: Rooting rosemary will take between 2-4 weeks to root depending on the method used. Sticking cuttings in potting soil using a rooting hormone will result in faster rooting times.
Q: Can Rosemary grow in just water?
A: It is possible for you to keep Rosemary alive in water while you are trying to propagate cuttings. Ultimately, you would either need to plant your Rosemary plants into your garden or grow them hydroponically so that they can receive the nutrients they need to thrive.
Q: Why does my rosemary keep dying?
A. 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.
Q: Does rosemary grow back after cutting?
A: You can do light pruning and harvesting any time of year, but a rosemary plant responds best to hard pruning in winter when it is dormant. Do not prune when the plant is still growing or when you are expecting your first cold weather. 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.
If you are growing Rosemary in your garden and love having it around to use in fresh recipes or you just love the smell – then you should take some cuttings since you know how to propagate Rosemary now.
What is your favorite way to use your Rosemary? Let me know in the comments!