Rosemary cuttings are the most common way to propagate rosemary. Today I'll show you how to propagate a rosemary plant from stem cuttings. If you're looking to expand your herb garden or want to expand your garden with more rosemary plants, your mother plant is an excellent source to start with.
Rosemary is a common herb that can be grown in your backyard garden or in pots inside and out. It is a low-maintenance, drought-resistant shrub and can be harvested for varying uses. Rosemary also makes beautiful decorative landscaping, and depending on where you live, it can grow year-round.
The flowers on the rosemary plants are beautifully white, pink, purple, or blue and attract many pollinators. In addition, it has an attractive scent and is an essential herb for cooking purposes.
Fun Fact: Rosemary is a Latin word for seaweed.
Can you start a rosemary plant from a cutting?
Rosemary cuttings can be propagated using several techniques. First, cut 4-5 inches (5 - 7.5 cm) of rosemary from the newly regenerated softwood of the plant. You can tell it is softwood because it will be a brighter green than the older stem growth. Next, place the cutting in moist soil and wait for it to form roots.
What does plant propagation mean?
The definition of propagation is the increase of numbers. For plants, this means the initiation of asexual reproduction. Not all plants grow well when propagated. Propagation is faster and easier and produces the best results for the rosemary plant. Learning how to propagate rosemary plants at home will give you the best chance to build your garden quickly and with less expense.
Rosemary cuttings are the most common way to propogate rosemary
- Take a 2- to 3-inch cutting from a mature rosemary plant with clean, sharp shears. Rosemary cuttings should be taken from the soft or new wood on the plant. The softwood is easily harvested in the spring.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting leaving at least five or six leaves.
- Dip the stem in rooting hormone.
- Take the rosemary cuttings and place them in a well-draining potting medium.
- Place in indirect light.
- Transplant to a new location once roots have grown. This is usually about 6-weeks out.
When is the best time to propagate Rosemary Plants?
The best time to cut stem cuttings for propagating rosemary is autumn and spring.
The advantage of taking stem cuttings and planting the rosemary in the spring is that the plant is ready for growth and the climate in the spring helps accelerate root growth.
What is rooting hormone?
Think of the rooting hormone as a vitamin for your cuttings. Plants can make their rooting hormone, although it takes quite a long time. The rooting hormone encourages the stem to experience root development and protects the cutting and plant from fungus or disease.
It doesn't matter what type of rooting hormone you use, only that you use one in general. It's far more effective than propagating with traditional soil or water techniques. I should mention that many consider rooting hormone non-organic. You will want to keep that in mind if you are set on being 100% organic.
How long does rosemary take to grow from cuttings?
In some cases, rosemary cuttings can form roots in weeks, depending on the weather. However, the process may take longer when cold. If after about six weeks the rosemary cutting still looks green and roots have started forming you can safely assume that with the proper care your new rosemary plant will survive. If the needles are dry, brown, or have all fallen off that plant can be composted. When propagating rosemary from cuttings I usually have a couple that don't make it for one reason or another. That is why I usually start several extras.
After Rooting Care
How do we maintain the roots and prepare the new plant for optimal growth? It would be best to avoid direct sunlight for 1-2 weeks for plants to bloom. Sunlight will be important later, but right now, the focus is on growing roots rather than the production of leafy plants. Keep your plant somewhere slightly warm from sunlight. Keep plastic bags covered in a greenhouse for this time but remove them periodically for several minutes so plants can breathe. Having a daily breather is advisable, although if you find it difficult to remember to remove the covers, it's is best to provide some ventilation holes.
Light requirements for rosemary indoors after roots start to form
Rosemary grows rapidly and is sensitive to high lighting. After putting your rosemary cutting into the pot for the next growth stage, you will have increased the light penetration in the pot. Give rosemary 6-8 hours of light each day. A sunny window is usually a good spot. If your light sources are inadequate, you may need additional full-spectrum lights. I keep our rosemary cuttings in the greenhouse.
Fertilizing propagated rosemary while it is rooting
Indoors the rosemary needs minimal fertilizer. In many cases, your soil can hold the fertilizing substance for months. Rosemary grown outdoors can be fertilized with an organic fertilizer. I usually fertilize our herbs monthly with seaweed emulsion. If I have rooting started I fertilize them at the same time with the same strength seaweed emulsion.
Does rosemary need full sun while rooting?
The first few weeks the rosemary clippings do not need much light. The focus is on root growth. Once the rosemary plant is established, it will need about 6 hours of full sun. Most of our rosemary plant areas get an early morning to early afternoon sun. Here in Texas, having them in full sun all day will dry them out and cause the plant to die.
Watering propogated rosemary while it is rooting
It can be challenging to maintain the plant watering condition due to a lack of water penetration in the root systems. In addition, Rosemary is unable to tolerate moist soil. Leave your growing roots dry between watering. With rosemary, overwatering is more dangerous than underwatering as root systems rot quickly if left in excess moisture. The balance needs to exist, but the roots will die when your plant has become severely underwater. Also, understand your rosemary growth will slow during the Winter.
Use your plant to promote good growth
Frequent uses and cuts increase the shrub habit of rosemary. However, do not cut from your plant the first season. Allow it to work on producing a good root system with several branches.
Tips for propegating Rosemary Indoors in Winter
Rosemary grows in the Mediterranean climate, therefore, preferring a warm and humid environment. For your potted rosemary plants, bring them inside for the winter.
Moving indoor rosemary plants back outside
Like most plants, rosemary will need to be reintroduced to the outside gradually. This is called hardening off. This article on hardening off seedlings details the process. Basically, you slowly increase the amount of time and sunlight the plant is given until after a week or so the plant is back in its regular location.
Can you grow rosemary from seeds instead of starting from cuttings?
Of course, you can start rosemary from seeds, but most gardeners and growers believe propagating rosemary is more beneficial than seeds. This is why: Faster growth and faster harvests.
Rosemary, like any other herb, can be very difficult to grow from seed so a lot of work is required in getting your seed in good shape. Root cut-offs can be established faster and grown to larger sizes. Totally clone the parents. Cutting is identical in the genetics of its parent plant.
Notes on proper pot selection
Rosemary hates watersoaked soil so the pot should be well-draining. Ceramic containers are a good choice to propagate rosemary, transplant, or grow it. Pots for indoor rosemary can measure 4 to 6" deep. As your plant grows larger, put it in a larger pot as needed. The rule for rosemary is that it should be placed in a pot six-inch-high and six-inch deep. Reducing root capacity are ways to minimize rosemary plant size, so take that into consideration when space is important when you have an indoor garden.
Pests and Diseases of Rosemary Cuttings and Plants
Rosemary is usually free from pests and disease, though there are some problems with it. Rosemary can be vulnerable to moisture-causing diseases like dry mold and root decay. Powdered mildew can occur when you use excessive humidity and over water. Whiteflies and soil gnats are also common problems for rosemary if grown indoors. This issue is fairly easy to handle. In powdery mildew or fungal diseases, it is important to combine good ventilation with low moisture content and humidity.
Frequently asked questions about propogating rosemary
Can I cultivate rosemary from the grocery store sprigs?
The short answer is sometimes. Fresh rosemary can be cut into pieces and used for propagation. Whether or not it will root depends on how fresh it is and whether or not the cutting was taken from a young stem.
Tell me the time it takes to get rosemary seed?
It takes approximately a month for a rosemary seed to germinate. The growth of a new plant is 2-3 weeks and will take several years before it grows. This very slow growth rate is why propagating rosemary from a cutting is best.
What's required for rooting rosemary plants?
Rooting rosemary takes about two weeks depending on its method. Sticking cuttings into the soil with a rooting hormone will lead to quicker roots.
Propagating rosemary is a great skill to help you increase your herb garden, grow rosemary plants for friends, or even plant sales. We hope that you found this article and video helpful and answered your questions on propagating rosemary plants.
New rosemary plants can be costly at the garden centers; you'll be able to not only prolong the life/health of your established rosemary plant but also create new plants.