Rosemary is one of the most popular savory kitchen herbs grown for their flavor and attractive leaves.
Adding rosemary to chicken or even garlic bread adds a delicious flavor unmatched by other culinary herbs. It’s no wonder that everyone wants to grow rosemary at home – since it’s expensive in the stores -, so why not try growing rosemary in pots?
Something you should know is that rosemary originates in the Mediterranean region, so it prefers warm weather.
It’s not cold hardy, so if you decide to grow potted rosemary herbs at home and live somewhere that receives frost, growing in pots is the best.
Rosemary is a perennial in the right climate, so if you don’t want your plant to be an annual, it’ll need to be brought inside.
Rosemary grows well in containers, allowing everyone to take advantage of this perennial herb. If you want to try growing it for yourself, you need to know what to get started.
Keep reading to learn about potted rosemary care and how to grow rosemary in containers.
How to Get Started Growing Rosemary in Pots
Caring for rosemary herbs grown in containers is something that all gardeners can do, even beginners.
Rosemary is a fantastic herb for beginners; it doesn’t have too many picky requirements. Let’s look at what you need to know about growing rosemary in pots.
1. Pick The Right Container for Rosemary
The first thing you should do is buy a container or two for your rosemary plants. It’s an essential piece of the puzzle; the wrong pot could damage the plant’s growth.
2. Find the Best Spot for Growing Rosemary
Since rosemary originates in the Mediterranean region, it’s obvious these plants prefer sunny locations. Don’t try to plant or place the container in spots that receive a lot of shade.
3. Use the Proper Soil
You must use a good quality commercial potting mixture to grow rosemary. You should add some amendments to it, such as fine pine bark or peat moss, and vermiculite or perlite to increase drainage.
4. Start Rosemary Seeds
While it can be done, starting and growing rosemary from seeds should be your last option. Rosemary isn’t easy to grow from seeds; it’s rather complicated and takes a lot of time to reach the size needed to harvest.
Not to mention, germination success rates are low, and the success rate is small as well.
5. Planting Rosemary In Pots
The easiest way to plant rosemary is to start with a small plant either from a garden center or a local nursery. You can try to start rosemary from seeds, as detailed above, but it can be tricky to do so.
Caring for Rosemary in Pots
Now that your plant is potted and started growing, it’s time to learn how to take care of rosemary plants grown in containers. The great thing is that they aren’t too fussy, as you’re about to see. It won’t take you much time out of your day to care for your plant.
1. How Often Should You Water Rosemary In A Pot?
Proper watering is one of the keys to growing potted rosemary. Without the right amount of water, your plants won’t survive.
So, how often should you water rosemary in a pot?
Rosemary tends to dry out when indoors, so you’ll want to mist the foliage regularly to stop it from becoming too dry. But, sometimes it can be really difficult to determine how often to water your potted rosemary plants. On average, water rosemary every 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the plant size and climate conditions.
To determine if your plant needs water follow these steps:
2. Fertilize Your Rosemary Plants
Typically, potted rosemary doesn’t require fertilization, but adding some can be a good idea if you notice your plant looks pale green or stunted. Too much fertilizer can be damaging to the plant.
In fact, if you grow rosemary in the ground, it thrives in even poor soil. It’s not a heavy feeding plant, but light feedings in potted plants can be beneficial.
3. Overwinter Inside
If you live in regions with chilly winters, you’ll need to bring the plant inside before the first frost in your area.
If you don’t want your plants to be an annual, you can start or plant a new rosemary plant each spring, but that can be frustrating since these plants can live for years as a perennial.
4. Pruning Your Rosemary Herbs
When your plant is about 4-5 inches tall, you can start to prune it to help make the plant bushier rather than continuing to grow upward.
Pinching off the tips with your fingers or shears will encourage side growth.
5. Propagate Rosemary As Needed
If you want to multiply your herb and grow more rosemary, you can take cuttings from your current rosemary plant and plant those in your garden or other containers.
Harvesting Fresh Rosemary
The most flavorful rosemary leaves come when the new growth isn’t too soft nor turned woody. You can cut off the part of the stem above the woody part.
Never take more than 25% of an overall plant because it can cause irreversible damage to your plant.
You can harvest anytime throughout the growing season, but if you bring it inside during the winter, avoid harvesting too much. You don’t want to overwhelm the plant.
Common Pests & Diseases That Bother Rosemary
Rosemary does have some enemies that like to attack and bother rosemary. Here are some of the diseases and pests it might face.
Cottony Soft Rot
If your plant is rapidly dying and turning yellow, it could be cottony soft rot. It’s a fungus that can be present at the surface of the root.
You might find water-soaked lesions on the stem of the rosemary plant in the spring. Cottony soft rot appears during warm, humid conditions.
Make sure you rotate crops and plant disease-free materials. It’s hard to get rid of a fungus, but you can try a fungus spray.
If you find that the leaves are yellowing and a white-grey fussy growth develops on the leaves, you have downy mildew.
It’s another fungus that likes rosemary plants, spreading during prolonged periods of wetness. Ensure you prune and trim your plant appropriately to give it good air circulation and avoid getting the foliage wet when watering the plant.
Spittlebugs leave little globs of spit on your plant, and the insects suck sap from the needles. Although being ugly and a bit nasty, spittlebugs don’t cause a severe problem, but if you have a heavy infestation, it’ll weaken the plant.
You can use a strong jet of water to wash away the foam spit excretions and the insects inside it. Typically, spittlebugs only bother rosemary plants and grow outside, but they can find indoor rosemary plants.
Aphids, along with whiteflies, can bother rosemary plants, primarily if they’re grown in a greenhouse or indoors.
Aphids are usually green in color, but they can be white, yellow, brown, black, and pink. They like to attach to the underside of leaves and suck their sap, leaving a sticky residue on the plant.
A forceful jet of water should remove these pests. Another option is to use an application of insecticidal soap. You spray these soaps on the insects and plants.
Unfortunately, if your rosemary plant develops root rot, there isn’t much you can do to save your plant.
It’s caused by a fungus, causing your plants to wilt and drop their leaves prematurely. Discard the damaged plants and make sure you pick a spot to grow rosemary that allows the plant to drain well.
Types of Rosemary Plants To Grow In A pot
There are two types of rosemary, with dozens of cultivars mixed into those two types and even hybrids. That can be a bit confusing when you want to find the right rosemary to grow.
Shrub-Like Upright Rosemary
This type of rosemary can reach up to 5-6 feet tall. These tend to have the best flavor. If 6 feet tall is too much for you, you can find semi-upright rosemary plants that only grow to be 2-3 feet tall, making it much easier to manage.
This type of rosemary is low-growing and likes to spread out rather than grow upward. It typically doesn’t reach more than 1-2 feet tall.
When you’re growing rosemary in pots, you can grow either type. The low-growing variety works well in hanging baskets or on a shelf in your house. The upright rosemary works better outside, but it can still grow in a pot.
Try Growing Rosemary This Year
You might have heard that rosemary only grows well in warmer climates. While there is some truth, everyone can enjoy having a perennial rosemary plant regardless of location.
Growing rosemary in pots gives you a way to have fresh rosemary all year round no matter where you live.
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.