Are you a beginner gardener? Growing rosemary is one of the easiest herbs to grow, and luckily, it’s also one of the most popular. This hardy perennial will come back year after year as long as you get is started right. Learning how to grow and harvest rosemary is a great skill!
Rosemary is one of my most favorite herbs, and not only because it’s easy to grow. Rosemary also has many fragrant and medicinal uses, making it an awesome addition to any garden. Cook, clean, make soap and potpourri with this great herb! Rosemary is also high in nutrients, containing Calcium, Iron and Vitamin B6.
Rosemary thrives outdoors, in warm climates. It needs well-drained soil. Rosemary is incredibly hardy and can handle drought conditions. Although it’s an herb that prefers full-sun, it will also do well in partial shade.
When and How to Plant Rosemary
To plant seeds or seedlings, be sure they are planted 1/4 inch deep and about a foot a part from one another. Rosemary needs space to grow and lots of room for its roots. Rosemary can grow so large and bushy, that some people actually sculpt the bush into fun shapes.
Seeds and seedlings need an average soil temperature of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate and thrive. Rosemary needs well drained soil and shouldn’t sit in drenched soil for too long. This herb also enjoys being planted near bean, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peppers and sage.
Rosemary is fairly low maintenance, although it can benefit from organic plant food or fertilizer, many times it doesn’t need much to grow well.
If you live in a cold climate (like I do), you’ll need to start your seeds indoors. Rosemary seeds need to be started 8 weeks before the last frost.
Planting and Germination
Make sure to water from the bottom of the tray. This will prevent the seeds from being displaced. It takes about 15-25 days for Rosemary seeds to sprout. Although, germination rates tend to be unreliable. Rosemary seeds need to be very warm in order to germinate. To be sure that it’s warm enough, use a seedling heat mat underneath your seeds.
Once the seeds have germinated, be sure to add a grow light a few inches above your seedlings. This will prevent them from becoming leggy and help them grow faster. Rosemary loves light, so make sure the light is on them for most of the day.
It’s ok to allow seedlings to dry out a little between watering. Rosemary enjoys well drained soil. Seedlings need to be transplanted into larger pots to get big enough for outdoor transplanting.
At this step you can transplant into a larger pot and keep indoors always, or you can plant in a seedling pot and prepare them for transplanting outdoors once the weather allows.
Seedlings can be planted outdoors once the temperature of the soil consistently reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Rosemary should get about a foot in height before being planted outdoors.
Seedlings must be hardened off before transplanting. If your seedlings are not hardened, they will most likely die from transplant shock.
As stated above be sure to plant them 12 inches (one foot) apart from one another. This will allow enough room for air circulation, growth and most importantly, roots.
Rosemary plants, when grown correctly, will give you plenty of rosemary year after year. To maintain your plants during the season, be sure to allow enough room for their growth and don’t overwater.
If you live in a cold climate, it’s important to prune the bush back during the fall and cover the plant in mulch before the cold hits. Otherwise, your rosemary may not make it to the following spring.
When To Harvest
Rosemary can be used both fresh and dried (as well as frozen). Used with meats is very common, as well as its many uses in Mediterranean cuisine.
Prune sprigs about 4-6 inches long throughout the season. Fresh Rosemary can be used when making stews and soups, it also works well when searing steaks. Rosemary tastes great in breads too. Pruning will also help the plant grow larger and fuller.
Rinse your rosemary sprigs will cool water and use as you wish. Store fresh rosemary in the refrigerator. I usually wrap them in a paper towel or tea towel and place them in a closed jar in the fridge. This will help them stay fresher for longer. Although you’ll need to use them within a week.
Drying rosemary is a great option for preserving them. Simply hang the rosemary sprigs out in a dark, dry area and leave them be for a couple weeks. Once dried, remove the tiny leaves from the twig and place them in a jar. Use as you would store-bought rosemary. Dried rosemary is also a great addition for potpourris, and when grown from home, are much more fragrant.
Adding rosemary to your garden will not be a regret. Learning how to grow and harvest rosemary will be a skill you use for years to come.