How to Start Growing Rosemary from Cuttings
If you need to find out why you must grow rosemary in your garden, watch this video:
Whilst lots of people buy rosemary plants for their herb gardens, its not difficult to grow them yourself either from seed or by taking cuttings. Of the two methods, growing rosemary from cuttings is by far the easiest. In this article I’ll run through the steps you need to follow to do it successfully.
It will only take a few weeks during the late spring or summer to transform a few cuttings into flourishing rosemary plants which can be used around your garden (perhaps to grow an aromatic hedge as described in the video).
There are three key steps involved in growing rosemary from cuttings:
- Taking and Preparing Your Cuttings
- Planting these Cuttings in Compost
- Nurturing and Encouraging the Cuttings to Grow
I’ll take you through each of these steps in turn, but first here’s a list of what you’ll need to do it . . .
Materials You’ll Need for Growing Rosemary
Apart from the secateurs, none of these items is expensive:
- Mixture of potting compost and sand (2/3 of compost to 1/3 of sand)
- Some 3 or 5 inch pots (plastic ones are fine)
- Secateurs or a sharp knife
I’ll explain where all these things fit in as we go through the three steps.
Step 1: Taking and Preparing Your Rosemary Cuttings
It goes without saying that you need to have a rosemary plant from which to take your cuttings. Or you can find a neighbor that’s growing rosemary in his/her garden and ask if you can take a few cuttings.
The three main ways in which you can take these cuttings are:
- From the young tender stems of the rosemary. Do this in the spring, but it’s also possible to take cuttings in the summer after flowering. Choose stems that are 2 to 4 inches long, but avoid the ones that have flower buds on.
- From herb stems that have just started to harden. These can be used as cuttings from the middle of summer until the fall. Take cuttings which are 4 to 6 inches long. As with the previous cuttings, avoid stems with flower buds
- From established herb plant stems that have grown hard (i.e. they are no longer green). These stems can be used for cuttings in the autumn. Choose stems that are 6 to 15 inches long.
In each case make a clean cut with your secateurs or knife just below the leaf nodes (this is the point where the leaves join the stem). On this part of the stem there are more plant cells. They will encourage root growth when the cutting is planted.
Trim your cuttings by removing leaves just above the cut. If you are working with hardwood stems remove the growing tip of the stem before planting.
Step 2: Planting The Cuttings in Compost
Now fill your plant pots 3/4 full with your compost and sand mix and push your stem cuttings firmly (but not too firmly!) into the soil at the edge of the pot.
If you are using a 3 inch pot you should be able to plant three cuttings around the edge. The stems should be buried to a depth of about a 1/4 to 1/3 of their length (except for your cuttings from established plant stems – these should be planted to a depth of 1 to 2 inches).
Once your cuttings have been planted insert three tall sticks (about 12 inches tall) into each pot. Cover the pots with a plastic bag to help retain moisture. The sticks will keep the bag away from the cuttings.
Step 3: Nurturing and Encouraging the Cuttings to Grow
Store your pots in a warm area, but out of direct sunlight. The warmth will encourage the roots of your growing rosemary to develop. Keep the pots watered, but avoid over-watering. Remove the plastic bags from time to time because too much moisture will encourage the growth of mold.
When you are growing rosemary from cuttings your softwood and semi-hardwood stems will form roots within five to six weeks. Your hardwood stem cuttings will take a little longer. When you observe signs of growth you can remove the bags and sticks.
Once your newly propagated herbs are established, you can replant the growing rosemary in pots or in your herb garden.
Some Final Tips about Growing Rosemary
If you follow the steps I have outlined, it’s not difficult growing rosemary from cuttings. You may find some of your cuttings don’t take, but that’s not unusual. Once you have mastered the technique you’ll be able to produce lots of different sorts of cuttings from other varieties of rosemary (there are five or six popular varieties) and from other herbs that can be propagated in the same way.
However, when you are growing rosemary make sure that you look after it during the winter. Cold winters are not kind to rosemary, which Is why there is always a good market for rosemary plants and young bushes in the spring. Growing rosemary can be quite a profitable business!
Happy herb gardening,
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