How to Propagate a Rosemary Plant from Stem Cuttings

Learn how to take rosemary cuttings from an established mother plant and grow new rosemary plants in containers that can be moved outside in summer and indoors in winter.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial herb in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and warmer where it can be planted in the garden and can grow 4 feet tall and spreads about 4 feet wide depending on the variety.

For those of us gardening in colder zones, growing rosemary in containers allows us to bring it in during the winter to keep it alive.

My rosemary plant is going on seven years old this year. It grows in a container spends the summer outside on the porch. The rosemary plant is brought inside when the weather turns cold in fall, and it overwinters on a south-facing windowsill.

By the time spring rolls around, the rosemary usually looks raggedy from reduced light and heat fluctuations. Sometimes so many needles dry up and drop off that I wonder if it can possibly survive.

Once warmer weather arrives, the rosemary plant is hardened off, and returned outside for summer. After only a few weeks, it begins to grow new shoots, and the branches fill in with thicker foliage. I am amazed every time it happens.

This is the perfect time to start a new batch of plants. These fresh, green stems are the ones you want to select for softwood stem cuttings.

Benefits of Growing Rosemary Plants from Stem Cuttings

Instead of purchasing a new rosemary plant every year or starting new plants from seeds, try growing your own from stem cuttings. Some of the benefits of growing rosemary from cuttings vs. starting from seeds include:

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.

How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings

1. Select new shoots from the mother plant: Choose healthy stems with fresh growth. The younger shoots will have green stems that are flexible. Avoid older brown, woody stems.

2. Take cuttings: Use sharp scissors and snip the rosemary stem about 5 to 6-inches back from a fresh growing tip. Cut plenty of extra stems in case some fail to grow roots.

3. Strip the lower leaves: Grasp your fingers around the stem, and gently strip off the lower 2-inches of needles from the stem of the rosemary cutting.

4. Place cuttings in water: Stick the stems in a jar of water and place the jar in a warm place away from direct sunlight. Change the water every couple days, replacing with room temperature water. The fresh water provides dissolved oxygen and prevents the cuttings from rotting.

The rosemary stem cuttings should grow roots in a few weeks depending on the temperature. It can take longer in colder temperatures. After 4 to 8 weeks it should be apparent if the rosemary cuttings have survived. The cuttings that do not survive will be brown and shed needles. If your rosemary cutting is still alive, give it some more time.

5. Pot up the stem cuttings once roots develop: Use a sandy soil mix that drains well. Mix equal parts all-purpose potting soil and sharp sand. Or use cactus-potting soil.

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 to 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 Rosemary Plants

Rosemary is a rather robust plant once it is established and growing. Here are some tips to keep your plant 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.

Tips for Growing Rosemary Indoors in Winter

Rosemary is native to Mediterranean climates so it prefers a hot, sunny, and humid atmosphere. Here are some tips for keeping your rosemary plants alive indoors during winter:

Quarantine: If you have houseplants, it is a good idea to quarantine your rosemary plants when you bring them indoors. Keep the plants in a separate location for a while to be sure there are no hitchhikers, pests, or disease.
Light: Locate your rosemary plants in a bright south-facing window. Alternatively, you can use grow lights and keep your plants happy during the winter months.
Water: Try to keep the potting mix evenly moist. Over watering will cause the plant to rot. If the soil is too dry, the plant will wither and die. Water when the soil dries out at the surface and let the extra moisture drain.
Temperature: Rosemary likes it a bit on the cooler side during the winter. Keep the plants away from heat sources and wood stoves. About 60 to 65 degrees is ideal.
Humidity: Winter heating keeps us warm, but it also saps moisture from the air and drops the humidity. Compensate by misting your rosemary plant frequently, running a humidifier, or placing your rosemary plant on a tray of pebbles and water to increase the humidity around your plant.
Pests and Diseases: Common pests for indoor rosemary plants are red spider mites, aphids, spittlebugs, and whiteflies. These pests suck on the plants and cause the foliage to wilt and dry up. Inspect your rosemary plants frequently for pests and control with organic insecticidal soap. Diseases such as root rot, powdery mildew, and mold are all signs of too much moisture and poor air circulation. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between watering, and then water thoroughly allowing extra water to drain out of the bottom of the pot. Run a fan to improve air circulation around your plants.

The Best Winter Herbs to Grow

The winter can be frustrating for some. There’s fewer hours of daylight, the weather can be bone-chillingly cold, and you find yourself rotating between squash, brussels sprouts, and bread. It can get dull and repetitive.

But just because it’s colder, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your herb garden. Growing fresh food should be a thing you can do 365 days a year.

 

So, here are some herbs that do a little better in chilly weather—the perfect winter herbs to grow and eat.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a perennial herb, which means that it can be grown year-round, and sturdy enough to defend itself against icy temperatures. This herb will bloom throughout the year, and is one of the more affordable ones to grow and replace in the event that your plant kicks the bucket.

Rosemary pairs well with heartier meats like lamb and beef, and stands up to pungent flavors like garlic. On top of packing a punch in flavor, rosemary—particularly its oils—has been used to treat things like poor memory, migraines, digestive issues, and other such ailments.

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Parsley

Don’t underestimate the ubiquitous parsley plant; it’s more resilient than you might think. In harsher (cold) climates, parsley will hide underground to keep itself safe, but don’t worry—it’s still growing, however slowly. In milder winters, it will continue to bloom to provide a nice fresh kick to any dish.

A good tip is to grow lots and lots of parsley to counteract its slow growth over the winter. Because parsley self-seeds, it means that more plants will grow even if you stop planting new ones.

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Thyme

Like sage, thyme is also a great accompaniment to sage, as well as pork. These sturdy little shrubs will add brightness to your dishes few other herbs do thanks to its lemony tones. They will survive over the winter will little to no up-keep, though there will be very little growth as well.

Having said that, you should be careful not to cut all of your thyme shrub’s old growth, as that will prevent it from growing new leaves, taking away all of the plant’s reserves.

Thyme has also proven to serve medicinal purposes over history. Some studies suggest that the thyme oil can decrease inflammation and airway constriction caused by pulmonary diseases.

Mint

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Mint is a strong herb just like thyme. If you’ve ever grown mint, then you know that it’s imperative for it to be grown in a separate pot as it will take over the entire planter; those who plant their own herbs are never short of mint!

Think of mint like a weed. They grow wild, and they are hard to get rid of. Mint’s like that, except you want it to grow wild. Needless to say, this tough, resilient herb will continue to grow throughout the winter.

It’s a great herb to have around, as it is chockfull of vitamin C and iron. Mint has also proven to reduce digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties.

Winter savory

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Winter savory has a similar flavor to thyme, but leaves more of a tang. It’s great in many comfort meals great for the winter, like beef stew.

Basil

Like parsley, basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world. While every country seems to have their own variety (e.g. Thai basil), is common in world cuisines—from Italy (it’s the primary ingredient in pesto sauce) to Thailand—and it can add a kick to many salads.

Rich in vitamin K, A, potassium, and calcium, it’s no wonder it’s so popular. It helps to reduce inflammation, and studies have shown that it may help with symptoms of arthritis. Basil also contains a lot of anti-oxidants and antibacterial properties, which can help with cardiovascular health and inhibition of the growth of bad bacteria, respectively.

While these herbs will grow throughout the winter, the growth will be minimal and it’s important to bear that in mind so that you don’t harvest too much, otherwise there will be absolutely no new growth.

In an Urban Cultivator, though, you can grow herbs 365 days a year and guarantee abundant growth. Using hydroponic technology, the herbs that you grow in the Cultivator units are fresh and flavorful, and take as little as one week.

Why Grow Herbs in garden?

Gardeners love kindred souls, and if you decide to grow herbs, you’ll be in the company of plenty of kindred souls, both in the present and from times past.

Even before recorded history, herbs were the sources of countless culinary, medicinal, and craft materials. Historically, growing herbs wasn’t a hobby; it was necessary for survival. Then, during the last half century or so, chemists began developing synthetic forms of aromas, flavors, medicines, and dyes that formerly had been extracted from herbs. (Notice how often artificial flavors and colors appear in the ingredients lists on packaged foods.) Because it was cheaper to make these imitations in a lab than it was to grow and extract the real thing, herb gardening fell out of favor to some degree. Now that the “better living through chemistry” heyday is over, there’s renewed interest in getting back to natural sources of the stuff we ingest and otherwise use in our daily lives. And herb gardening is experiencing a renaissance.

What Makes an Herb an Herb?

Before we talk about growing herbs, it’s only fitting to define the meaning of the word herb. (We pronounce it “erb” with a silent “h.” If you want to sound British, pronounce the “h,” as in the name Herb.) What, exactly, is an herb? Different resources define the word in different ways, depending upon their frame of reference.

A biologist might use the term herb as shorthand for herbaceous plant — a plant that forms a soft, tender stem rather than a woody stem. However, that definition leaves out many plants that are typically considered herbs, including rosemary, a charter member of the culinary herb hall of fame. And it includes plants like daffodils, which aren’t on anyone’s herb list.

Some ethnobotanists (people who study plants in the context of how they’re used by different social groups) might define herbs as “useful plants,” but hundreds of plants are useful, such as corn and oats, that few of us would call herbs. Others define herbs as “plants grown for medicinal qualities and for seasoning foods,” but that definition leaves out dye plants, plants used in rituals, and those used for making cosmetics, crafts, and more.
The Herb Society of America (HSA) follows the “big-tent” philosophy and defines herbs as plants valued for their “flavor, fragrance, medicinal and healthful qualities, economic and industrial uses, pesticide properties, and coloring materials.” If it’s good enough for the HSA, it’s good enough — and broad enough — for us. So if you’ve planted something that tastes or smells good (or bad), cures what ails you, or can be used in some way, feel free to call it an herb. You won’t get an argument from us.

11 Impressive Benefits Of Rosemary

The most interesting health benefits of rosemary include its ability to boost memory, improve mood, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, protect the immune system, stimulate circulation, detoxify the body, protect the body from bacterial infections, prevent premature aging, and heal skin conditions.
What Is Rosemary?
Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary is one of the most commonly found herbs in a spice rack, and for good reason – not only does it have a wonderful taste and aroma, but also a wealth of beneficial health effects if regularly added to our diet. The scientific name of this perennial woody herb is Rosmarinus officinalis. Similar to many other useful herbs, rosemary is in the same taxonomic family as mint, but doesn’t have that characteristic flavor. It has a warmer, bitter, and more astringent taste that gives a wonderful flavor to soups, sauces, stews, roasts, and stuffing. It is particularly prevalent in Italian cultural cuisine.

Although small amounts like those used to flavor food aren’t typically considered large enough to have a major effect on the body, regular addition of the leaves to your food will allow your body to derive accumulated benefits from the organic compounds and unique phytochemicals present in the leaves. There are also uses of rosemary that involve consuming larger quantities or applying its essential oils to the skin directly.

Health Benefits Of Rosemary
Health benefits of rosemary include:

Boosts Memory
One of the earliest documented uses of rosemary for health reasons was as a cognitive stimulant. It was said to improve memory and helped increase intelligence and focus. While many of those claims are still being researched and studied, its effects on the brain do indicate an increase in memory retention. In that same vein, rosemary has been linked to stimulating cognitive activity in the elderly as well as those suffering from acute cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is an exciting alternative or supplement to more modern treatments for these yet incurable conditions.rosemary

Relieves Mood and Stress
The aroma of rosemary alone has been linked to improving mood, clearing the mind, and relieving stress in those with chronic anxiety or stress hormone imbalances. When the plant is consumed or applied topically in some sort of salve of the leaves, it can have similar effects. Aromatherapy also uses rosemary essential oil for this purpose, but the concentration of active components may not necessarily have positive effects on stress and mood.

Boosts Immunity
The active components in rosemary are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic in nature. This represents a three-pronged attack against many different diseases and pathogens that could threaten the immune system or damage the integrity of the body. Antioxidant compounds make a secondary line of defense behind the body’s own immune system, and rosemary contains a significant amount of them, including rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulic acid, and carnosol.

Antibacterial
While the general immune boosting qualities of rosemary are impressive enough, it is specifically powerful against bacterial infections, particularly those in the stomach. H. pylori bacteria are a dangerous pathogen that can cause stomach ulcers and rosemary has been shown to prevent its growth when consumed. Similarly, it is linked to preventing staph infections, which kill thousands of people each year.

Soothes Stomach
Rosemary has traditionally been used by dozens of cultures as a natural remedy for upset stomachs, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. Its anti-inflammatory and stimulant effects are largely the cause of these effects, so adding it to your weekly diet can quickly help you regulate your bowel movements and your gastrointestinal system.

Freshens Breath
As a natural antibacterial agent, rosemary works as a wonderful breath freshener that also improves your oral health. Steep rosemary leaves in a glass of hot water and then gargle or swish the water in your mouth to eliminate bacteria, and you will have naturally fresh and clean breath all night!

Stimulates Blood Flow
Rosemary acts as a stimulant for the body and boosts the production of red blood cells and blood flow. This helps oxygenate vital organs, ensuring their metabolic activities, and in addition, stimulating the movement of nutrients to cells that require repair.

Relieves Pain
As an analgesic substance, rosemary has been topically applied in a paste or salve for hundreds of years to the affected area of the pain. When consumed orally, it acts as a pain reliever for areas harder to reach such as headaches and pain from a condition. In fact, a popular use of rosemary is for the treatment of migraines. Applying a decoction to the temples, or simply smelling its aroma has been linked to reducing the severity of migraine symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory
Perhaps the most important function of rosemary is as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body. Carnosol and carnosic acids are two powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in rosemary that have been linked to reducing inflammation of muscles, blood vessels, and joints. This makes it an effective treatment for many things, including blood pressure, gout, arthritis, and injuries sustained during physical exertion or surgery. It is effective in oral or topical form for these anti-inflammatory effects. Furthermore, the reduction in inflammation in the cardiovascular system can help boost heart health and prevent atherosclerosis from appearing.

Detoxifies the Body
Rosemary is slightly diuretic in nature, meaning that it can help flush out toxins efficiently during urination. Furthermore, by increasing the rate at which water leaves the body, it can also help push out pathogens, salts, toxins, and even excess fat when consumed regularly (or when you’re feeling particularly “toxified”). In terms of the particular organ it benefits, it has been linked to lower levels of cirrhosis and a faster healing time of the liver, which is one of the slowest organs to heal.

Skin Care
The anti-aging properties of rosemary are quite well known. Although more commonly thought of in its essential oil form, the leaves of rosemary can also affect the skin internally or topically and have been shown to improve the quality of the skin, while also healing blemishes and increasing the natural shine and hydrated appearance of your body’s largest organ.

Word of Caution: The essential oil of rosemary is not to be consumed, but normal rosemary is far less potent, and therefore, not dangerous to consume in normal culinary proportions. If you are allergic to other members of the mint family, you may experience discomfort if you consume or apply it, but the reactions are typically mild.

Rosemary FAQs
What is rosemary?

Rosemary is a popular herb that is perennial and native to the Mediterranean region. It is actually a member of the mint family, which may explain its very pleasant scent and popularity in certain cuisines around the world. It is also commonly used in natural healing practices, as rosmarinic oil and other active ingredients in this herb can be very helpful for a number of health issues.

How to use rosemary?

You can use it in your cooking as a garnish or final spice. You shouldn’t cook with it, as this can cause some of the beneficial components in it to be lost. Topical application of rosemary that has been infused in oil is another popular use. Rosemary poultices and air fresheners are also widely used.

What is rosemary good for?

Rosemary is good for a number of diverse things, both in the home and for human health. Its strong scent makes it a deterrent for pests and insects and is also a popular air freshener. In terms of health, it can be consumed to help with digestion and stomach pain. Mixed into an oil infusion, it can also help improve the health of the scalp and hair as a shampoo and protect the skin from irritation and infection.

Where to buy rosemary?

You can buy rosemary in almost any natural health store if you want untreated or wild rosemary. However, for cooking needs, it is available in every grocery store, as it is a very popular cooking herb. You can also grow your own rosemary, being quite a hardy plant, and then you won’t have to buy any at all! It is also widely available online in different forms.

Is rosemary a perennial?

Rosemary is a perennial herb that is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. These plants are native to the Mediterranean region but have now been cultivated all over the globe. It is a popular choice for personal or home herb gardens, meaning that you can have access to fresh rosemary for cooking and health all year long!

What does rosemary mean?

Rosemary is actually derived from the Old Latin phrase ros marinus, which means dew of the sea. This could be due to rosemary’s native lands, near the Mediterranean Sea, and its eventual popularity in English-speaking countries. We know the name rosemary because of the words Rose and Mary, two very common names and nouns in the English tongue.

Can you eat rosemary?

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Yes, you can certainly eat rosemary, and it remains one of the most popular herbs to use in the culinary setting. Its strong aroma gives a kick to many different dishes. You can even consume its essential oil in small or diluted doses. Rosemary has many internal effects, including reducing stomach pain and indigestion.

How to cook with rosemary?

You can cook with rosemary in so many different ways because of the aroma and flavor of this herb. You can place it as a garnish on a fish dish, or cook it inside a poultry meal. You can sprinkle it into soups and stews, and even top your bread with it. Now, if you want to get more flavor, you should cook it with the meals, but if you want to save most of the healthy nutrients contained in rosemary, don’t heat it up too much.

Where to plant rosemary?

You can plant rosemary in well-drained soil that is about 70 degrees on average; you also want to make sure to plant the seeds early, since they can survive the frost for a few weeks, and this will give them a head-start on growth. You should give the plant plenty of room to grow, so don’t crowd it into a busy herb garden. Also, once the plant flowers, be sure to trim the leaves back. As a perennial, you can enjoy this herb year after year!