Growing Rosemary:
How to Grow Rosemary Plants Organically

Growing rosemary will both beautify your landscape and add delicious flavor to your food. It gives off a beautiful fragrance in the garden and is evergreen in warmer climates.

It likes full sun and soil that is a little on the dry side.

Growing Rosemary: Plant Snapshot (Rosmarinum officinalis)

Growing Rosemary
  • Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Perennial in most areas
  • Recommended varieties: Roman beauty, Salem, Sissinghurst, Spice Islands, Tuscan blue
  • Cold toledrance: Usually hardy in coastal plains regions and regions at or near the base of a mountain range
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Cabbage, Beans, Carrots, Sage
    • Avoid: None
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Growing Rosemary: Planting the Seed

Where to Find Planting Supplies...

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Rosemary is very difficult for the average gardener to grow from seed. The seeds germinate slowly and the seedlings grow slowly.

If you plant from seed, it will be about two years before you have any rosemary to harvest. In addition, seed-grown plants are often not true to the form of their parent plants.

The easier route is to start with plants from the nursery or by taking a cutting from a mature plant. If starting with a cutting, dip it in rooting hormone and place in a pot with fertile, well-drained soil.

Once you notice new growth, the cutting has rooted and can be placed into the garden.

Snapshot: Planting Rosemary Plants

  • Planting depth: 3 inches for cuttings (7 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 cm), but normally grown as single plant
  • Germination soil temperature: 65 to 70 degrees F (18 to 21 C)
  • Days to germination: 10 to 25 days
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Growing Rosemary: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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After you’re able to get rosemary started, it’s relatively easy to grow as long as it gets full sun and plenty of air circulation.

Though rosemary prefers dry soil, you will need to water your plants a bit more often during their first year in order to get them established. Rosemary is not a heavy feeder, so a spring dressing of compost or fish emulsion should be all it needs.

Snapshot: Growing Rosemary Plants

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 7.0
  • Growing soil temperature: 50 to 85 degrees F (10 to 30 C)
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Growing Rosemary: Harvesting Time

Rosemary leaves can be harvested as needed as soon as the plants are growing. Leaves should be removed from the stems and chopped before use, and harvesting regularly will encourage a bushier plant.

Each year, you will need to remove any frost damage that your plant has suffered through the winter. If you live in a very cold area, you may need to bring the plant indoors for the winter, but it typically survives fairly cold temperatures.

Snapshot: Harvesting Rosemary Plants

  • Time to harvest: n/a (perennial)
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Storing Rosemary Plants, Drying Rosemary Plants and Freezing Rosemary Plants

Rosemary can be used fresh or dried. To dry the leaves, tie bouquets of rosemary with string and hang upside down until they've dried. Then strip the leaves off the stems and store in a glass jar.

Some gardeners also pick fresh rosemary stems and freeze them whole in paper bags.

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Growing Rosemary: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Rosemary Plants. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Spider mites
  • Spittlebugs
  • White flies

Diseases

  • Root and crown rot
  • Powdery mildew
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YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Rosemary

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