Four Tips for Growing and Pruning Rosemary in the Herb Garden

Growing rosemary has become a bit of a passion for me.

It isn't that I use a lot of this herb, I just happen to love the herb garden, fresh fragrance of it.

Here's what I've learned about keeping this plant alive as well as getting more plants at a reasonable cost.

Starting Your Own Plants

From Cuttings

I note that growing rosemary is easy and getting cuttings to root is also quite easy. Take the cuttings when they are quite soft and treat them like any other softwood cutting. Click here for instructions.


Rosemary Illustration

From Seed

To begin with, your basic species rosemary is a fairly slow but reliable germinator if you give it what it wants. What the seed wants is a steady and reliable soil temperature of 65F. If you give it this, you should see tiny seedlings in 21-25 days.

It also prefers "slightly" damp conditions and if you overwater it or use cold tap water (always use warm water) you'll rot it quite easily.

Sowing Rosemary

Sow the seed quite shallowly, barely covering the seed and firm the soil so the small amount of moisture in the soil will be picked up by the seed.


Trailing rosemary in one of my containers.


Seedlings can be transplanted when they have four true leaves and each plant should be given its own pot. Grow in the full sunlight and 65F air temperatures until all danger of frost has gone.

The plant can be grown in the garden but if you want to overwinter it outdoors, you had better be living in a USDA zone 8 garden (or a warm zone 7) I grow mine in pots and then bring the pots indoors for the winter. This plant is reputed to like drier ground outdoors but I find if I let it dry too much in the pot, it dies. I tend to keep it dampish in the pot and it will survive abuse much more nicely this way. I do give mine a southern exposure but it sits by the back door where it is quite cool while it is dormant during the winter months.

The foliage is a gray-green color and the hundreds of small flowers it produces are bluish making an interesting floral statement in the herb garden.

Click Here For Herb Gardening Successfully Ebook

Book cover  Successful Herbs


I prune my pots back by half in the spring and they quickly fill out and give a full measure of growth if grown in the full sun and warmth. I've seen mine hit three feet tall in their second year with no problem at all.

Design Hint for Containers

One of the things I do with growing rosemary that many gardeners might copy is to grow several varieties in a single pot and this pot occupies my kitchen herb garden all summer.

I start with cuttings of the taller varieties in the middle and put trailing and low varieties on the outer edges of my 16-inch clay pots. In this way, I have attractive herb garden containers from top to bottom.


I've heard a lot of folks say they can't overwinter rosemary in the house. It's all about the watering. Soak the plant and allow it to dry almost right down (but not quite). Then soak again.

The problem is that

1) You don't soak and then allow to dry down but keep it constantly damp. This will kill the plant.

2) You allow it to go dry and stay dry. This will kill it slower than overwatering it, but just as surely.

Shopping Resources for this Page

A variety of herb garden supplies - from seed to plants and pots

All of Doug's ebooks can be found here

Want A Stunning Garden? Click Here For Your Free Lessons