How to Grow and Care for your Rosemary

By: Debbie Neese
July 26, 2022
How to Grow and Care for your Rosemary
Share this post:

Medicinal Benefits of Rosemary

If you've been to the Mediterranean, you most likely enjoyed the scent of Rosemary, as it is a fragrant evergreen herb native to that region. Being part of the mint family (i.e., like oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender), it is a favorite in culinary dishes. It has medicinal properties like being anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants to boost your immune system. Also if you're short on memory and concentration, add a rosemary sprig beside your desktop to rub your temples and wrists for a boost! 


Rosemary Care

Our Tuscan Blue Rosemary thrives as a perennial (lasting more than two years) in planting zones 8-11 where you can plant it in the ground. We recommend letting your plant settle into its new environment outside in its pot for about a week before planting. Once that time is up, and your plant is showing no sign of stress from his travels in a box, then follow these steps for outdoor planting:

  1. Before planting, water the plant in the grower pot well. 
  2. Find a spot in the garden where there are at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day and the temperatures are consistently above 55°F. 
  3. Be generous by digging a hole twice the pot's width and 1 inch shorter than the grower pot to raise it above the soil level for good drainage. 
  4. Use a pitchfork or a sharp object to stab the soil walls to make several indentions for the roots to take hold. 
  5. Tickle the roots to loosen them if they wrap inside the container. 
  6. Place the plant in the center of the hole. 
  7. Fill the hole with water so the roots get another good drink. 
  8. Next, backfill with native soil mixed with compost by one-third to one-half (if the native soil is clay). 
  9. Add a rooting hormone fertilizer to this backfill mixture. Tamp the soil firmly down around the edges and mound up. 
  10. Avoid covering the original soil level of the plant that was in the container. 
  11. Add mulch as needed but not next to the stem or branches of the plant. 
  12. Water lightly. 
  13. Continue to observe the soil moisture daily, depending on the temperatures and drainage. We recommend using our 4-in-1 plant meter to check the soil moisture.


Rosemary: Water and Humidity Needs

Rosemary is a native plant of the Mediterranean with temps between 55°F-80°F and likes rocky soils and slopes in a humid environment along the coast. In rocky soil and slopes, the soil tends to dry out between waterings, so give that same care to your Rosemary. Humidity is a common issue if your plant is left indoors. Besides not getting full sun, it will get too dry, especially in the winter while the heat is on. This plant needs humidity levels high at 55%+. 

Plant Food/Fertilizer Needs

When planting your Rosemary, use a root hormone to get the roots established. You can also use an organic liquid fertilizer once per month when watering. 


Harvesting Rosemary 

To harvest Rosemary, trim a 4-5 inch piece of new wood with sharp snips. Be careful not to cut into old wood, which will prevent new growth. 

Pruning Rosemary

Throughout the spring and summer months outdoors, use Lively Roots plant snips to trim back browning leaves or damaged stems on the plant. Never prune back to the older woody stem as they will not grow back. Remove any leaf debris at the base of the plant and replenish the soil or mulch as needed. Inspect for pests or diseases and treat them with our Arbor bio-insecticide. When pruning for culinary uses, take off no more than 5 inches of leaves. During colder months, a hard pruning (when the plant is dormant) to one-third to half to maintain their size is permissible as long as they are not pruned back to where there are no leaves.

Propagating Rosemary

Follow this short list for adding more Rosemary to the garden!

  1. Prune with sterile scissors a 4-5 inch stem of new growth from the shrub's tips.
  2. Remove 2-3 inches of the leaves off the stem and place in fresh, filtered water in a bright warm place to root in approximately six weeks.
  3. Change the water each week to keep it fresh.
  4. Once the roots are well grown, pot them into a cactus potting mix with a rooting hormone to help avoid transplant shock.
  5. Place the newly transplanted Rosemary into a bright, indirect light to help the roots establish themselves in his new home.
  6. Keep the soil mix moist for new growth to start.
  7. Do not remove more than 1//3 of the plant at a time when harvesting. 


Rosemary is safe to have around your pets! It can be found in their foods and shampoos and helps keep the harmful gut bacteria at bay. 

Common Issues with Rosemary

Rosemary has a hard time thriving indoors due to drying out. While it's drought-tolerant, being kept in a container indoors is not optimum. The heat, a lack of humidity, and not being in the ground can deteriorate the roots quickly. Also, indoor light isn't sufficient unless you have a greenhouse or are supplementing with a full-spectrum plant light. 


Companion Planting with Rosemary

Rosemary is excellent for companion planting to repel flies, mosquitos, and cabbage moths. The aroma of Rosemary camouflages cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, turnips, radishes, and rutabaga from the cabbage moths. This symbiotic relationship, in turn, enriches the soil for the Rosemary to flourish. In addition, having Rosemary nearby carrots and parsnips can deter carrot flies. 

When in bloom, Rosemary will attract honeybees, mason bees, and hummingbirds, giving your pollinators a delightful feast and helping the rest of your crops nearby! 

Rosemary doesn't play well with other herbs except for sage, which may be due to his size, so give him plenty of room to grow to its full potential of up to 6 ft. tall and 2-4 ft. wide. 

Landscape Use

Use Rosemary to embellish a slope where it may be hard to grow other plants. Its rustic cottage charm makes a beautiful rock garden addition. Tuscan Blue Rosemary can handle coastal exposure and poor soils too. Keep it close by your kitchen door in a potager garden or use as a hedge in a mass planting for privacy in zones 8-11. In planting zones lower than 8, use this plant as an annual. 

There are so many uses for Rosemary, from culinary to medicinal to the refreshing smell in the garden as well as being a natural repellent to the bad guys! Add this plant to your garden and discover all the benefits!