Propagating Rosemary

by Susan on April 17, 2012

Caroline and I have a dream of a rosemary hedge. It’s a long-term dream, because our growing season isn’t quiet long enough to make it happen very quickly. So we’ve taken the long view, and plotted out a five year plan to reach our goal.

This is year one, the year for growing lots of rosemary in pots. Rather than buying a dozen or so expensive plants though, we opted to propagate our own from cuttings. It’s crazy easy and a big money saver.

Just take your cuttings from a heathy plant. You don’t want the cuttings to be too woody or it will take a lot longer.

Pull off the leaves at least one third of the way up the stem.

Dip the ends of the rosemary cutting into rooting hormone
(You can skip this step but I’ve found that it really speeds up the process.)

Pop your cutting in a glass of water and place in a sunny spot. I had 12 jars lining my bathroom window sill all winter. In a few weeks you should begin to see roots coming from the bottom of your cutting. I felt like mine took forever to get roots but just as I was ready to give up, they rooted like crazy. My mama does this all the time and she thinks the rosemary roots quicker if the cutting is resting on the bottom of the jar, not floating. Also, be sure to change the water every four or five days.

Once you have a strong root network established you can plant your cuttings in pots watch them take off. This technique works equally well with lavender cuttings. Perhaps we need a lavender hedge, too…

EDITED TO ADD: If you’d like to see how quickly these cuttings can be transformed into a hedge, check out this post!


1 Anna at Victory Garden Yarn April 17, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Oh oh oh! I am so glad you posted this! We are planning a squirrel-proof herb garden on our fire escape (yes, squirrels in the city, on the fire escape: the good ol’ PNW!) & our neighbors down the street have crazy-healthy rosemary plants we get bits from every now & then–I’m going to march down there tomorrow & snag some clippings!

2 Jenny April 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Lovely idea…mmmm, rosemary hedge! I love rosemary, but they would never survive our Michigan winters!

3 fran April 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm

So, do you only dip the stem once in the rooting hormone? I have some empty pots calling for rosemary after this post, thanks!!

4 fran April 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Oh yeah, are you willing to share the rest of the years plans, like, now, so we can plan too? thanks again!

5 Anna April 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I would LOVE a lavender hedge…..

6 dr rona thau April 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm

sounds super duper fragrant
thanks for the rooting tips!

7 Megan M. April 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

I love when you all post your how-to posts. Don’t get me wrong, I come back everyday for the cute animal pics, but the how-to posts are really neat topics as well! Thanks, and keep up your great work!

8 Shirra April 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm

This is amazing! Thanks.

9 Nicole April 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

This is such a great idea! My boyfriend absolutely loves lavender, and rosemary, and once we get a place of our own, hedges of the stuff would be grand.
Knit, Nicole, Knit!

10 Tracy Wells April 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

I do this with leftover rosemary I buy at the grocery store. They always package more than I need for any recipe, and it seems a shame to waste the leftovers. Here in the cold Northeast, rosemary plants can’t survive the winters outdoors, so I have to consider mine as annuals.

11 Carol S GIBBS April 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

In the cold areas you can root and pot and treat it like an indoor plant, maybe take it out in the spring and summer and bring it back for the winter. It does need a sunny window to survive. Rosemary make a beautiful table decoration and smells good too.

12 Sebette April 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

I have my rosemary cuttings rooting nicely in damp potting soil in old six packs. I worked on an herb farm doing propagation and we did all the perennial herbs this way. Cut 2-3 pieces about 3 inches long, strip off the lower leaves, dip, poke hole in soil, place in hole, snug in and wait. By putting in more sprigs to start you get a bushier plant.

13 Rebecca April 18, 2012 at 10:36 am

I had no idea you could do this!!!!!!!!

14 Stephanie April 18, 2012 at 11:26 am

Ah … rosemary and lavender hedges!

15 babs707 April 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

All right–I’ll try it again…I bought a potted rosemary for the kitchen last year, and it was great for a week–I put it in everything…and then overnight, it died. Maybe if I just keep it in water, it will survive.

16 Maureen J (mljan) April 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I’ve read that roots produced in water are more delicate than those in some kind of rooting “soil”. I started about 20 rosemary plants for under our huge black pine in the front yard. I used a half and half mix of perlite and vermeculite as recommended in Secrets of Plant Propogation by Lewis Hill, voted one of 75 best gardening books by the American Horticultural Society. That said, if you’re living in an apartment and/or are not a gardener, water in a glass is easier. Just be extra careful to not break off the roots when planting.
Also, according to one of my herb books, “Where rosemary flourishes a lady rules”.

17 Kristyn April 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Mmmm… lavender hedge… Yes please! I rooted some peppermint this way completely by accident. I had set some cuttings in a cup and forgotten about them for a while, and there they were! Little baby roots, just waiting to be replanted. Nature is amazing!

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