Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody shrub growing up to 1.8 m tall but normally it grows about 1 metre tall here in the UK; a very hardy plant living up to 20 years. The plant originates from the Mediterranean and it is very tolerant to drought. The name Rosemary comes from Latin rosmarinus which means the dew of the sea; as in the Mediterranean near the sea the plants survive on the humidity alone. As a perennial herb rosemary is available all year around to use in the kitchen.
Rosemary is an evergreen perennial shrub and has purple, blue or white flowers and has needle like leaves. Rosemary has got many medicinal and culinary uses thanks to its high level of camphor, carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid and many other bioactive compounds.
Rosemary is drought tolerant and thrives on low fertile soils too, and my favourite thing about rosemary is that from an established bush you can harvest all year around and it is delicious on your Sunday roasts!
Growing Rosemary from Cuttings
It is easy to grow this perennial herb from a few soft or semi – hard cuttings. Take cuttings from a healthy plant with lots of new growth in June, cut 7-9 cm shoots off the plant with a sharp knife. Strip the leaves of the bottom half of the cuttings and place pop them into a sand and ordinary potting compost mixture into small pots, place the 3 or 4 cuttings per pot on the edge of the pot. Place the pot in a propagator or seal it into a clear plastic bag and put it somewhere out of direct sunlight.
If you have a hormone rooting powder (you may if you grow lots of plants from cuttings) dip the ends into that before planting. You can even put the cuttings into water just for experimenting; I had successful rooting just popping them into clear water for a few weeks. The roots should form in 6-8 weeks; you can check if you are successful by gently tagging the cuttings, you will feel the roots holding them back (hopefully).
Transplant them into individual pots and plant them out to their final position when a decent size root ball is formed.
Growing Rosemary from Seeds
It is not easy to grow rosemary from seeds but if you don’t have access to a mature plant to take cuttings and you don’t want to buy a plant from the nursery this is an alternative option.
Sow the seeds in good quality seed sowing compost about 1 cm deep. Use a saucer to water the pot. Keep them warm on a sunny windowsill or propagator. The germination can be eradicated and slow. Once the seedlings are up make sure you don’t overwater them, remember rosemary is drought tolerant and even at the seedling stage it is easy to overwater them. Click Here to buy rosemary seeds.
You can grow rosemary as a houseplant in a pot. A sunny windowsill or conservatory is the best place to grow rosemary. Repot the plants once a year into a slightly bigger pot; shake the tired compost off the root ball beforehand.