- How To Propagate A Rosemary Plant
- Step-by-Step Instructions Stem Cutting Rosemary
- How to Propagate Rosemary with Layering
- How to Propagate Rosemary with Rosemary Seeds
- How to Propagate a Rosemary Plant from Stem Cuttings
- 17 Apart
- Benefits of Growing Rosemary Plants from Stem Cuttings
- How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings
- How to Care for Rosemary Plants
- How to Propagate Rosemary From Cuttings
- Find a Healthy Parent Plants
- Look for the Hardwood
- Cut on the Diagonal
- Remove 2/3 of the bottom leaves
- Rooting Hormone
- Plant into Friable Soil
- Keep Your Cuttings Moist
- Fertilize With Worm Wee
- Plant into Your Garden!
- Materials Needed
- Step 1: Source your Cuttings
- Step 2: Potting Mixture
- Step 3: Prepare the Cuttings
- Step 4: Rooting Hormone Powder
- Step 5: Propagating
- Step 6: Growing on
- Step 7: Hardening Off
- Step 8: Caring for Rosemary
- Related posts:
How To Propagate A Rosemary Plant
The piney scent of a rosemary plant is a favorite of many gardeners. This semi hardy shrub can be grown as hedges and edging in areas that are USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6 or higher. In other zones, this herb makes a delightful annual in the herb garden or can be grown in pots and brought indoors. Because rosemary is such a wonderful herb, many gardeners want to know how to propagate rosemary. You can propagate rosemary from either rosemary seeds, rosemary cuttings or layering. Let’s look at how.
Step-by-Step Instructions Stem Cutting Rosemary
Rosemary cuttings are the most common way in how to propagate rosemary.
- Take a 2- to 3-inch cutting from a mature rosemary plant with a clean, sharp pair of shears. Rosemary cuttings should be taken from the soft or new wood on the plant. The soft wood is most easily harvested in the spring when the plant is in its most active growth phase.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting leaving at least five or six leaves.
- Take the rosemary cuttings and place it in a well draining potting medium.
- Cover the pot with a plastic bag or plastic wrap to help the cuttings retain moisture.
- Place in indirect light.
- When you see new growth, remove plastic.
- Transplant to a new location.
How to Propagate Rosemary with Layering
Propagating a rosemary plant through layering is much like doing so through rosemary cuttings, except the “cuttings” stay attached to the mother plant.
- Choose a somewhat long stem, one that when bent over can reach the ground.
- Bend the stem down to the ground and pin it to the ground, leaving at least 2 to 3 inches of the tip on the other side of the pin.
- Strip away the bark and leaves that are 1/2 inch on either side of the pin.
- Bury the pin and the bare bark with soil.
- Once new growth appears on the tip, cut the stem away from the mother rosemary plant.
- Transplant to a new location.
How to Propagate Rosemary with Rosemary Seeds
Rosemary is not typically propagated from rosemary seeds due to the fact that they are difficult to germinate.
- Soak seeds is warm water overnight.
- Scatter across the soil.
- Cover lightly with soil.
- Germination may take up to three months
Rosemary has so many uses in both the culinary and medicinal realms. To me, rosemary is one of those herbs that belong in every yard or garden. If allowed to grow it can for a beautiful natural fence, it blooms are delicate tiny lavender colored blooms and it’s so fragrant when you brush by it. Unfortunately, Rosemary is also fairly expensive to buy. The expense is in part because it grows so slowly from seeds.
Never fear, there is a way to take cuttings (propagate) from your current plant that will ensure you have more plants than you know what to do with. Rosemary cuttings are the most common way to propagate rosemary. It’s faster and much more reliable than seeds.
How to Propagate a Rosemary Plant from Stem Cuttings
- Take a 4- to 6-inch cutting from a mature rosemary plant with a clean, sharp pair of shears. Rosemary cuttings should be taken from the soft or new wood on the plant. The best time of the year to do this is in the early spring. You can identify it by the bright green color and soft stem.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting leaving at least eight to ten leaves on the stem.
- Take the rosemary cuttings and dip it in rooting hormone if you are using it. There are organic options and homemade options.
- Place it in a well draining potting or seedling mix. Rosemary does not like to have a wet stem or soggy roots so make sure the soil is moist but not soggy and dripping wet.
- Place in indirect light.
- When you see new growth the plant is ready to be transplanted to a new location. This is not a quick process like propagating basil. It will take several months. During that time keep the soil moist.
At the same time we took mint cuttings to try and propagate new rooted plants from back in January, we also took a few rosemary cuttings from the tops of our container plant to see if we couldn’t try the same with this herb. Well, we were able to successfully grow new roots from the cuttings we took and today we’re sharing all the details!
You might remember, we’d actually transplanted this rosemary plant into a container when we uprooted it and brought it over from our previous home this time last year. Since it’s had almost a year to get established in the container, we thought it would be fun to see if we could multiply the plant with cuttings.
As with the mint, we took about 2-3 inch cuttings from the tops of the rosemary stalks where new growth was happening. To get a cutting, you just snip right off the plant. You want to try for the newer green growth since it’s still in the growth stages and has a less woody stem — the chances for getting roots are evidently much higher and the time for getting them should be shorter than with the woodier part of the stems.
Gently pull and strip away the leaves on the stem, leaving a few at the top. Leaving only a few leaves at the top of the cutting allows the stem more energy to focus on new root growth instead of feeding so many leaves on the stem.
You can even gently scrape the outer layer of the stems with your fingernail to promote root growth even further. With propagation, the new roots will eventually sprout out from these leaf nodes in the stem you’ve just stripped away.
Place new stem cuttings in container of water and let them sit and get cozy in their new home.
Keep the water covering the leaf nodes on the stem and below the leaves. Refresh water in container every few days and rinse stems with each refresh. Here’s how we started out back in the very beginning of January:
8 days later, not much had changed at all, except for a little fuzzy growth we’d need to rinse off the stems:
An entire month after that, we still weren’t sprouting any roots, but you’ll notice that new bright green growth was taking place on the tops of the cuttings — so we hung in there to see what would happen:
2 months after we took the cuttings, March 1st, still no roots:
Then, almost like magic, we came downstairs on March 6th to find this little gem had sprouted overnight:
Roots! We actually propagated some roots! It was an exciting morning to say the least. It took us just over 2 months to see the beginnings of root sproutings, but it worked!
It might have taken ours so long to propagate since we started them in the dead of winter and the new growth on the rosemary plant wasn’t as flexible and green as it could have been in the spring and summer. We also went the completely natural route — only using water to try to stimulate new growth. We’ve heard using a rooting hormone powder on the stem cuttings speeds up the process. You can find organic versions of rooting hormone online, something we might try in the future, but are happy with the way things went for us this go round.
We ended up waiting another 10 days after the initial root sprouted before transferring it to a soil filled container in order to allow it to get stronger. Roots grown in water tend to be weaker that those that take shape first in soil:
What’s even more exciting and pretty ironic about our progress with rosemary propagation, was how we were able to successfully propagate a huge bunch of rosemary stalks on the other side of the kitchen without even realizing it.
After a meeting for the Richmond Food Co-op at the William Byrd Community House in mid February, I’d brought home a large bunch of local rosemary stalks from the gardener at the Byrd House Market. I always like to keep fresh cut herbs from the store or market in a container of water by the kitchen sink to help prolong their freshness as long as possible (great for herbs like cilantro and parsely).
Since it was such a large bunch of rosemary, we didn’t use the bulk of it right away, so it sat for a few weeks and stayed alive while we used what we needed here and there in recipes. After a few more weeks, we actually saw new growth on the tips of these rosemary stalks and when I pulled them up from the container to change their water, we realized there were roots growing from the bottom of these stalks!
We weren’t even trying with these guys and they seemed to propagate quicker than our others in the windowsill — they hadn’t been stripped of their leaves or refreshed nearly as much as our other smaller cuttings. It may have been that they were cut from a more established plant at a later time in the season with new growth, or it may have been that we kept them in a closed (not clear) container and away from the direct windowsill. Whatever the case may be, we were blown away.
Over the weekend, we finally got a chance to transplant our rosemary cuttings in their own soil filled containers, in hopes they will continue to grow established roots and take off in their new homes.
We layered the bottoms of the planters with drainage rocks, filled them up with gardening soil and gently planted the small cutting we’d rooted in the windowsill:
Then we decided we’d take a chance and plant the larger stalks in bigger planters just to see what happens — we’ve really got nothing to lose, so we’re giving it a shot!
Only one tragedy came out of this project and that’s when I accidentally knocked over this pitcher Mary hand-painted on a trip to Mexico:
We do have another similar pitcher from the same trip and might be able to mend the pieces of this one, but it something we had to document since Mary’s usually the one prone to knocking things over between the two of us!
There were also several stalks from that larger bunch that didn’t root. Instead of pitching these in the compost bin, I nestled them in the soil next to our garage in our back alley just to see anything happens there. If worse comes to worst, they will just provide a natural compost in that area, but who knows, maybe we’ll have another little rosemary patch take off here too.
We’ve taken all the planters inside, given them a healthy watering and are letting them hang out in our kitchen windowsill area for a few days before moving them around the house.
We’re looking forward to having them as perennial house plants we can chop bits and pieces from as we need them for recipes — hopefully we’ll be able to keep them alive!
Have you had success propagating herbs or other plants? Do you root them in water or get them to root straight in the soil? Propagating is still new to us, so we’re curious what’s been working for everyone else!
It’s easy to grow rosemary from cuttings with the simple steps outlined in this video.
What You Need To Grow Your Own Cuttings
To get started, all you need is a mother plant, or a plant from which to take cuttings, plenty of moisture, and a place that’s warm but out of the sun for plants to take root.
The method I’m using here is for softwood cuttings. The process for hardwood and leaf cuttings can be different depending on what you’re propagating but, generally, propagating plants from cuttings is fairly simple.
I used to say it’s best to take cuttings in spring once new growth has developed. However, it’s honestly okay to take cuttings during other times during the growing season. Just avoid propagating plants that are actively flowering. So spring or fall could both work or another time of year depending on the plant and your climate.
First, you want to be sure you’re cutting plants just below a branching point. This is typically right below where a leaf or side stem is sprouting (below the petiole or leaf stem), but it can also be at the base of a new stem. This is where the plant has special tissue made up of meristematic cells that are designed to grow and create new plant parts such as roots and leaves. When pruning above these points, it encourages leaf and stem growth, and when pruning below these points, plants have an amazing ability to grow new roots (thanks to meristematic tissue, see Grow Plants for Free: How to Propagate Rosemary From Cuttings for more details).
Grow Your Own Rosemary From Cuttings
- Make a clean cut using a sharp knife or clippers about 4 to 6 inches down from the tip of a soft, new branch. With rosemary, this can be at any point because the leaves grow so close to one another, but with other herbs and plants be sure to make your cut just below a branching point or leaf petiole.
- Remove the lower leaves. You can clip or pinch them off or, with rosemary, they easily come free by running your fingers down the branch.
- It’s possible to root rosemary cuttings in water, just make sure to change the water daily so bacteria doesn’t have a chance to build up. Put a drop or two of liquid seaweed into the water to give your cuttings a boost, and/or dip freshly pruned cuttings in liquid seaweed before submerging. However, I find I have better success and stronger root growth when rooting cuttings in a 50/50 mix of vermiculite and perlite.
- When growing cuttings in vermiculite and perlite, make a pocket for the leafless end of the cutting and then tuck the mixture in around the bare stem. Press in and around the surface to make sure the stem has good contact with the mixture, and water well.
- If your house or area where you’re growing your cuttings is drafty and cool, place a make-shift greenhouse over cuttings to trap in warmth and moisture. Just make sure to check on cuttings in case too much moisture builds up, which can cause cuttings to become moldy. Remove the “greenhouse” allowing the plants to ventilate as needed.
- Make sure the growing medium stays evenly moist — which is easy when using vermiculite and perlite — during the entire rooting process.
- Check your cuttings in about 3 to 4 weeks to see if roots are taking shape. Dig down with your finger and take a look or give your cuttings a gentle tug test. (The tug test is often not recommended by many for fear you could damage new, emerging roots but I’ve never had this problem. Just don’t yank on your plants and they’ll be fine.) If you feel resistance, there’s a good chance roots have formed and cuttings are ready for transplanting.
Once your rosemary cuttings have rooted, pot them up into larger containers with potting soil, or place them out in the garden. It won’t take long before you’re harvesting from garden-to-table!
Use this same method to propagate some of your other favorite herbs or perennials. You can also use this same method to propagate plants such as basil in the fall to grow again in spring.
Other articles you may enjoy:
How to Grow Plants For Free: How to Propagate Soft Wood Cuttings
How to Harvest Basil
Composting 101: How to Make & Use a Simple Worm Bin
*This article was originally published in April of 2017
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.
This article was originally published March 23, 2015. It has been updated with additional information, new photos, and video.
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Rosemary would have to be my favourite herb. It is indispensable in the garden, the kitchen and the apothecary. It can be tricky to grow from seed, but it is so easy to propagate rosemary from cuttings.
Just in case you didn’t know, propagation is cloning a plant. Essentially, you’re making a biological copy that will be identical to the parent.
We have started our garden renovations and we have a tricky spot. It is under the peppermint tree, with the full salty blast of a sea breeze, full days shade ending with a few hours of the blazing afternoon sun. Rosemary is up for the job! Ideally, I want to create a rosemary hedge that will grow to be robust, resilient and offer some shelter to surrounding plants.
But the budget is tight for this renovation. And I figure I am going to need 10-12 rosemary plants to fill the space. Sure, I could purchase them at any garden centre for about $5 each small pot, but for less than half an hours worth of effort, I could have a dozen propagated for free!
I am also willing to be patient and wait for them to grow, so propagating rosemary is my preferred choice.
Propagating rosemary isn’t difficult at all, but as with all things, there are a few insider tricks you can do to ensure a greater rate of success.
How to Propagate Rosemary From Cuttings
Find a Healthy Parent Plants
I already have a few tall rosemary plants in my garden. Season after season they not only survive but thrive in my climate. Propagating or cloning these rosemary’s will ensure I know that the new plants will have that same climate adaptation.
But, you could always try a cutting from a neighbours plant (ask politely first!), or even with a bunch of rosemary purchased from your local farmers market.
Any plant that is unhealthy, undernourished or suffering from any kind of disease or infestation, leave it be. It’s going to struggle and likely a waste of your good time.
Look for the Hardwood
Look for a good woody stem to cut, no thicker than a pencil. The soft green new growth is no good for cuttings, they’ll wilt and fall over in days.
Cut on the Diagonal
Using clean, sharp secateurs, cut the stem on the diagonal, this gives the plant more surface area to grow roots.
Remove about 2/3 of the bottom leaves, and plant into the pot with the 1/3 top leaves just above the soil. It can be a tricky balance. You want enough leaves to ensure the plant can photosynthesise and support new roots, but not so many leaves that you have to support a nutrient demand the plant can’t support without roots.
Also, remove any flowers or flower buds and trim the top if it is a bit uneven. You want the plant to put all its energy into creating new roots.
Be sure to bury at least 2/3 of the cutting into the potting mix. Shallow cuttings develop shallow roots that can cause the plant to topple.
Rooting hormone can be found at every good garden centre and while not essential, it will encourage the cutting to root faster. Just dip your fresh cutting into the rooting hormone up to 2cm deep and shake off any excess before pushing the cutting into the soil.
I don’t use rooting hormone, simply because I just don’t seem to need it with rosemary.
Plant into Friable Soil
Emerging roots need to have a gentle medium to grow into. My Two-Ingredient Seed Raising Mix is perfect for the job, and holds it’s moisture well.
Keep Your Cuttings Moist
I love to grow cuttings and seedlings in these cellulose bags. I can easily see the development of the roots and when they are ready, they can be planted directly into their surroundings without me concerned about damaging the newly developed roots.
Plus, I can water them by placing them in a dish of water and allow capillary-action to do the job of keeping the roots damp, without watering from overhead which encourages rot and fungus on the plant.
Do not let your cuttings dry out! They can quickly wilt and die without enough water.
Fertilize With Worm Wee
Once I can see that roots have formed, I introduce diluted worm wee to the watering to encourage good microbes and nutrients to help encourage healthy plant growth. Don’t overdo it! A dose at half of what you would otherwise use on established plants is sufficient. (About 1 part worm wee to 12 parts water)
Plant into Your Garden!
Once you see roots forming through your pot or cellulose bag, your rosemary’s are ready to plant! If you are in the heat of summer, maybe transplant them into a larger pot and nurture them a little longer in the greenhouse away from the heat.
Rosemary’s will reward you for years with modest, but beautiful edible blue flowers that are popular with bees and beneficial insects. Their long sticks stripped of their leaves make fantastic skewers for the barbeque.
They don’t ask for much water or feeding and regular trimming will make a beautiful compact hedge. Once you can propagate rosemary with confidence, give some other similar herbs a try using the same method. Thyme, lavender, sage, scented geraniums and basil all work well the same way.
Do you propagate rosemary or many of your plants in your garden? Or do you prefer to purchase them from your local garden centre? I would love to hear from you, please leave a message below.
How to propagate rosemary from stem cuttings. This method helps you to create dozens of new plants for free. Includes a DIY video at the end
If you have an established rosemary plant, you can use it to propagate dozens of new plants for practically nothing. Propagating is essentially cloning the parent plant and the way that happens is by encouraging pieces of the stem to form their own roots. Rosemary is one of those herbs that roots fairly easily so if you try this method, you should have loads of new plants within a couple of months.
- Rosemary cuttings
- Rooting Hormone Powder
- Terracotta pots
- Peat-free Multipurpose compost — get from a garden center
- Plastic ziplock bag
Step 1: Source your Cuttings
You begin the process by taking a decent sized cutting from the parent plant. It should be a healthy stem that’s grown in the current year and should be a good length as well — mine below is about 18″.
If you don’t have a plant already, ask for a few cuttings from a friend who has one. I suspect that someone will eventually ask whether cut rosemary from the shop will grow. I’ve never tried it but if it’s fresh enough, I don’t see why not.
Begin with a fresh and healthy stem
Step 2: Potting Mixture
Some cuttings could be planted into ordinary soil and they’ll take root. Propagating this way is risky though since it heightens the chance of losing cuttings to rot, fungus, and pests.
The best potting mixture to use when propagating plants is one with good drainage. It doesn’t even need to be rich in nutrients either. The plants won’t need it until after the roots develop fully and you’ll re-pot them on at that time.
To create good drainage I create my own mix using one part Perlite and two parts multi-purpose compost. Technically you could root them in pure Perlite or sand though.
Rosemary cuttings can be stimulated to grow roots with Rooting Hormone Powder
Step 3: Prepare the Cuttings
What we do next is cut that single rosemary stem into several pieces. Each one has the potential to grow into it’s own plant. Starting from the bottom, trim the original cut up to a fresh leaf node. A leaf node is where leaves are growing out of the stem.
Discard that end piece you’ve just cut off. Then cut the first segment using a sharp knife. It should be a minimum of 3″ long but far better to be 5-6 inches. Keep cutting until the original piece is segmented into as many cuttings as you can get.
Keep note of which end of each cutting was lower down on the original stem. This is the end that needs to be planted and if you get the ends mixed up, your cuttings won’t grow. You don’t want to plant them upside down.
Now strip the leaves from the bottom of the cutting leaving the last bunch of leaves growing at the top. This length that you strip of leaves should be about 1.5-2.5 inches long, depending on your cutting length. The part that you leave sticking up from the potting mix should be a miniumum of 1.5″.
Terracotta pots are best for propagating cuttings
Step 4: Rooting Hormone Powder
Cuttings can develop roots all on their own but if you want to start that action more successfully, use Rooting Hormone Powder. There are other materials that can stimulate rooting but this is the one I use and am happy with.
Assemble your cuttings and have your terracotta pots filled with the potting mix. Next, dip the end of each cutting into the hormone powder and then gently slide them into the pot along the outer edge. Leave about an inch and a half between cuttings
The more professional way to slide cuttings into the pot is by making a hole with a dibber (or pencil) and then putting the cutting in that way. It’s a gentler way but I never do it that way but haven’t had any issues.
Some might question why place the cuttings around the outer edge and not in the middle. This is because they prefer a drier environment than established plants. Terracotta is a material that breathes and your cuttings will be appreciative of the extra drainage.
After 4-8 weeks your cuttings will grow their own root systems
Step 5: Propagating
After the cuttings are arranged in the pots, give them a good drink of water and let the water drain out fully. Then place a plastic bag over the pot to make it into a mini greenhouse.
The cuttings will form good root systems within 4 to 8 weeks and during that time you need to keep the compost moist. Not sopping wet but just moist enough that you can feel it with your finger. You’ll know that your cuttings have rooted when you can see roots coming out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot.
Step 6: Growing on
When you spot roots, it’s time to separate the plants and put them into their own pots to grow on. First water the cuttings and then tap the cuttings and compost out. Gently tease the plants apart with your fingers and plant them up using the same one part perlite to two parts multi-purpose compost. Water them again and let them grow on for at least another month before planting them outside.
Re-pot your new plants into a mix of one part Perlite and two parts compost
Step 7: Hardening Off
Remember to always harden plants off before moving them from an indoor to an outdoor location. If you skip this step, you could shock their systems and they can be permanently affected. Plants that don’t get hardened off can die, not grow, or just fail to thrive.
You harden plants off by setting them out on warm sunny days and bringing them back in at night. After a week of this they should be ready to be planted outdoors. If the weather is poor, then don’t put the unhardened plants outside. You want to gently introduce them to the world rather than give them a rude awakening.
A one year old propagated rosemary plant
Step 8: Caring for Rosemary
Rosemary is a very hardy plant that requires very little to thrive. They’ll grow in large pots and containers as well as the ground and can eventually become as large as small trees in the right conditions.
Rosemary loves sunshine and needs at least six hours of it per day. It also likes sandy, well-drained soil so dig some into the ground if your soil is naturally more clay. It doesn’t really require any fertlizer or extra nutrients but saying that, I top dress mine with composted manure in the spring if I remember.
If you have freezing cold winters take note that rosemary might not survive outdoors. Planting into pots that can be taken into a sheltered place like a greenhouse or polytunnel will be your best way of keeping them alive over the winter.