Herb gardens can be as small or large as you can imagine. Mason jars indoors or a large space in your backyard can both be effective methods of growing some of the most popular herbs. And rosemary definitely falls into the category of popular herbs to grow at home. This woody and resilient herb is a favorite in the kitchen and in home decor, and growing rosemary is actually quite simple. So let’s get down to some tips to help you know how to grow rosemary at home!
How to Grow Rosemary
This perennial, evergreen herb is at home in a roast chicken dish or growing on top of a rock wall. It’s a versatile and fragrant herb that can be grown for both beauty, seasoning, herbal remedies, and frankly, a large shrub in some zones.
Rosemary can be grown indoors in a pot on a sunny windowsill, or in most any sunny outdoor location. But growing rosemary isn’t as easy as sticking it in the ground (or a pot) and leaving it. Follow these tips for growing rosemary so you’ll have a successful rosemary plant in your home or garden (or both!).
Where to plant rosemary
It’s not just for where to buy a home. Location is incredibly important when it comes to choosing a home for any plant. For growing rosemary, select a location that will receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. (Creating a sun map of your yard will help you know where to plant most everything.) No shady corners of the yard for this woody herb. And because of rosemary’s desire to be in the sun, when growing rosemary indoors, keep the plant away from drafts and don’t allow the plant leaves to touch the window pane.
Rosemary plants will not survive the winter when left outdoors in most zones. However, if you live in zone 7(ish) and above, rosemary that is grown close to the house (and therefore protected from harsh winter conditions and frost) can survive. This will result in a large rosemary shrub growing for years on end. Our rosemary plant was nestled next to our brick house, and the brick, which retains some heat from the day’s sun, and the deep eaves of our house, kept it growing year-round in our zone 8 climate. See the picture below of our rosemary and cucumber plants.
An indoor grown container of rosemary will last indefinitely, but may not reach the size of a plant grown out of doors. (Which may be for the best!)
Should you grow rosemary from seeds or plants?
Start your rosemary from seed or buy a plant at your local store? The choice is yours! Seeds can be sown and grown in pots indoors year around. If planning to grow rosemary outdoors, start seeds in a container 6 weeks prior to the last frost date in your area. Transplant your rosemary seedling outdoors when soil warms to above 70 degrees.
Plants can be purchased if you prefer not to start growing rosemary from seed. Or if you have a friend who has a mature rosemary plant, grab a cutting of new growth and root it. The process is similar to rooting basil, but I’ll share all the details in a post later this week.
How large does rosemary grow?
Mature rosemary plants can reach a mature size of 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Keep this size in mind when selecting a container or planting outdoors. This doesn’t mean you should start your rosemary in a large container indoors, especially if your plant is small. You can step up your indoor rosemary in to larger containers as it grows.
Rosemary can be kept pruned to a smaller size if desired, but it won’t produce blooms if severely pruned. Pruning can not only help manage the size of your rosemary plant, but you can also prune your plant into creative shapes. I love a Christmas tree shaped rosemary plant during the holidays!
How to Care for and Prune Rosemary
Rosemary enjoys consistent moisture and regular feedings. Use a water soluble plant food mixed at one-half the recommended rate once a week, and water with plain water when the top of soil is dry. This will keep plant well fed and hydrated.
Harvest the youngest stems and leaves for the best flavor. Up to one-third of the plant can be harvested at one time, but allow the plant to recover and produce new growth before harvesting anymore of the herb.
Rosemary, although a hardy and woody herb, can see be susceptible to disease and problems. Powdery mildew and cottony soft rot are two the more likely fungal conditions to negatively affect rosemary plants. These can be avoided by being sure to get your rosemary from healthy stock (go ahead and be picky when you’re at the store), and by avoiding getting water on the leaves when you’re watering.
How to Use Rosemary
Finally, it’s all well and good to grow rosemary because you like the way it looks and smells, but go ahead and use it. This is something I’ve struggled with myself when it comes to garden herbs. If you’re going to take the time to grow it, plan on using those fresh herbs. It literally takes one minute to walk outside and snip fresh rosemary for your roast or chicken, and nothing compares to the fresh taste of home-grown herbs.
You can also use fresh rosemary to infuse vinegar or oil. Drying rosemary to give to friends or to save for use in winter months (if growing outdoors in a colder climate) are all great ways to use your rosemary, and this way you’re naturally pruning the plant as you use snips here and there.
I’d love to know your favorite way to use rosemary. I love to make a small bundle and place it inside a chicken before roasting, along with half a lemon. I love the subtle flavor that’s infused in the chicken and knowing exactly where my rosemary came from is an invigorating feeling! Let me know your favorite use in the comments below!