Growing rosemary makes a superb addition to any garden, whether in-ground or in containers outdoors or indoors on a sunny windowsill. These beautiful, evergreen, perennial herbs produce needle-shaped leaves that provide intense flavor and fragrance.
Rosemary is readily used in the culinary world to season meats and stews, and its lovely edible flowers make unexpected accents on salads. They also simply make stunning ornamental plants.
Follow our guide for essential tips on how to grow rosemary indoors & outdoors so that you can access this magnificent plant all year round.
Ideal Soil Composition & pH for Growing Rosemary
Rosemary prefers soil that is rich in organic material and well-draining. These fragrant herb plants grow best in a slightly acidic soil that measures between 6.5 and 7.0 on the pH scale. Amend the soil with organic material and well-decomposed compost for in-ground planting. For container planting, both indoors and outdoors, use a premium potting mix.
Sunlight Needed for Growing Rosemary Indoors & Outdoors
Whether you’re growing rosemary indoors or outdoors, it requires loads of light to grow optimally. In fact, inadequate sunlight is one of the most significant sources of trouble for growing healthy rosemary plants.
- When growing rosemary indoors, place the pot in a sunny window on the south or east side of the house, where it will receive as much light as possible. If sunlight is limited, an indoor grow light will help give the plant what it needs.
- When growing rosemary outdoors, be sure to plant your plant in an area of your garden or patio that receives a minimum of six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
Rosemary Plant Temperature Requirements
Sudden shifts in temperature can cause the demise of rosemary plants, so if a sudden temperature change is imminent, bring potted plants indoors and protect outdoor plantings with row covers. While they are frost-tolerant plants, they don’t do well with extremes.
To mitigate problems with temperature dips, plant rosemary in a sheltered space near a fence or brick wall that radiates heat and offers wind protection.
Planting Rosemary from Seed vs. Buying Plants
Rosemary plants can be started from seeds indoors or purchased from a nursery or garden center. They can be transplanted outdoors or into pots indoors.
Starting Rosemary Seeds Indoors
- Sow rosemary seeds indoors approximately ten weeks before the last frost date in your area if planting outdoors.
- Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in a seed-starting mix.
- Keep the seed starting soil moist and use a warming mat if necessary to maintain soil temperatures of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Seedlings should emerge in approximately 14-21 days
- Provide seedlings with plenty of sunlight on a bright windowsill or under a grow light.
- Transplant seedlings into small pots and allow them to grow indoors for a couple more weeks so they can establish a healthy enough root system to thrive.
- Harden off seedlings before planting outdoors for at least one week in a protected spot.
How to Grow Rosemary
Growing rosemary can be done outdoors in containers, raised beds, or in-ground in backyard gardens. It is also an excellent candidate for indoor growing in a sunny window.
Note that, unlike many other herbs that perform well when grown outdoor and brought indoors, rosemary can be a bit more temperamental when it comes to adapting to a change in growing conditions.
If you plan to bring potted rosemary plants indoors for the winter:
- Ensure adequate sunlight.
- Consider that indoor heating may cause more arid conditions for the plant than it had outdoors. Misting rosemary plants with water occasionally can help this plant acclimate better.
The Best Way to Water Rosemary Plants
Adequate watering is a key element to growing healthy rosemary plants. Too much or too little water can kill off a rosemary plant.
Here are some essential watering tips for how to grow rosemary indoors & outdoors:
Growing Rosemary Outdoors
Water rosemary plants regularly throughout the growing, particularly during times of drought. Rosemary plants can be a bit top-heavy, particularly when young, so water at the soil level whenever possible.
Maintain a moist soil level, but do not allow the soil to get soggy, or plant roots can rot. Adding organic mulch to the planting bed or container can help maintain soil temperature and moisture levels for the plant.
Growing Rosemary Indoors
Test the soil of your rosemary plant with your finger before watering. If the soil feels dry, give it some water. If the soil is at all moist, allow it to dry further before watering. Rosemary can also benefit from receiving spritzes of water from a mister when conditions are arid.
Nutrients Needed for Growing Rosemary
Rosemary does not need much when it comes to fertilizer. It is not a heavy feeder of nutrients and does well when planted in soil that is rich in organic matter from the start. Once a year, you can add soil amendments like worm castings or fish emulsions to boost the plant’s health.
How to Harvest Rosemary
Rosemary may be utilized fresh from the plant or harvest and dried for later use. To harvest rosemary leaves, snip leaves, or stems as needed. For best results, pick rosemary during the morning, when the plant’s oil content is at its peak.
If you plan to dry rosemary, you may like to harvest the plant all at once before the plant goes to flower for maximum impact. If allowed to flower, rosemary flower petals are also edible. Enjoy them sprinkled over salads or in soups.
Rosemary Plant Pests & Diseases
Recommended Rosemary Varieties to Grow
Rosemary plants come in upright and trailing varieties and produce leaves and flowers with robust flavors and lovely foliage.
- ‘Prostratus‘ is a trailing beauty of a rosemary plant- grows well in hanging baskets and window boxes.
- ‘Arp‘ is a super fragrant rosemary variety with an upright habit.
- ‘Tuscan Blue‘ is a robust rosemary plant that yields flavorful leaves and bright bloom flowers. Upright habit.
- ‘Blue Spires‘ produces pungent leaves with vibrant blue flowers and an upright habit.
- ‘Spanish Rosemary‘ produces heavily-fragranced leaves and pale pink flowers.