How to Grow Rosemary From Cuttings

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Done the right way, planting rosemary cuttings is a great way to propagate a new plant. If you are wondering how to grow rosemary from cuttings, check out this post for all the details.

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Rosemary cutting being taken from a plant in a wooden box.
How to grow rosemary cuttings

Growing rosemary from cuttings

Rosemary is a delicious and versatile herb that no herb garden should be without. It is easy to grow from seeds, however it can be a slow process.

A much easier way to propagate rosemary is to grow it from cuttings. All you need is access to a healthy rosemary bush with some new spring growth, a jar and some water, or a rooting hormone.

Note: it is possible to grow rosemary from grocery store cuttings, however these are often sold as hardwood cuttings, which are unlikely to be successful.

Scroll down for the printable card for growing rosemary from cuttings, or read on for all the details.

When to take rosemary cuttings

The timing of when you take a cutting from a rosemary plant is critical to success. 

You want to choose a mature stem that is growing well, but is still in the softwood stage (soft green flexible stems). Taking hardwood cuttings greatly decreases the chances of success. 

Also, it is important not to try and take a cutting from a rosemary plant that has begun flowering as it is in a different growth phase and is unlikely to produce roots easily.

Rosemary usually flowers in the late spring-early summer, so early spring is a good time to take cuttings. The plant should still have soft stem growth, but this is before before flower buds appear. 

How to take rosemary cuttings

How you cut the rosemary and the part of the plant you select for your cutting are key to successfully growing rosemary cuttings.

First, choose a healthy rosemary plant with lots of green growth. As noted above you will need to take a softwood cutting to successfully grow rosemary cuttings. This is the new soft green growth that you will see at the ends of the branches in spring.

Always use sharp pruning shears or scissors, or a sharp knife to take cuttings. You need a clean cut to grow a cutting, and using a blunt tool may lead to ragged ends that could allow disease or pests to attack the cutting or the parent plant. 

When taking a cutting it is best to take half the length of the stem at the most. This will leave enough remaining on the plant that it can regrow without difficulty. 

Make the cut directly above a leaf pair (growth node), aiming for at least a 4-inch cutting, though shorter cuttings may also be successful. 

It is a good idea to take a few cuttings to increase your chances of success.

Remove the lower sets of leaves from the leaf nodes until the lower half of the cutting is leaf-less, though be sure to retain at least 3 pairs of leaves at the top of the stem to assist the growth of the cutting once roots are established.

>> Related article: How to harvest rosemary

Rooting rosemary cuttings

Your rosemary cuttings will have the best chance of success if you start them rooting before you plant them in soil.

1. Root rosemary cuttings in water

One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply root them in water.

Place the cut rosemary in a jar or glass of fresh cool water, and leave it in a spot that receives indirect sunlight until roots appear. Change the water every few days to keep it fresh.

It may take up to two weeks for the roots to appear.

Growing rosemary from cuttings in water
Rooting rosemary cuttings in water.

2. Use a rooting hormone

Rooting rosemary cuttings in water is not always successful, and so many gardeners prefer to use a rooting hormone when propagating rosemary from cuttings.

When a rooting hormone is used, roots will generally develop more quickly on the cutting, and also be of higher quality than roots grown without.

Most rooting hormones come in powder form that you just dust the cut end of the stem with it before planting the rosemary cuttings.

You can buy rooting hormones from your local garden shop, though some people find that honey can also be used as an effective root growth stimulator.

Planting rosemary cuttings

When roots develop around the base of healthy cuttings, they’re ready to be planted. Carefully plant each stem cutting in a small pot or container with good drainage. Use a sandy soil mix.

Place in indirect light, and water whenever the soil surface becomes dry (be careful not to over-water).

Once new growth starts to appear, if the plant appears healthy, you can transplant it into a larger container outdoors, or into a garden bed.

Step-by-step guide

How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings

Rosemary cutting being taken from a plant in a wooden box.

Step-by-step guide for growing rosemary from cuttings.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost <$5

Materials

  • A healthy rosemary parent plant
  • A small jar of fresh water OR Natural rooting hormone
  • A small pot
  • Potting mix

Tools

  • Sharp scissors or secateurs

Instructions

Take rosemary cuttings

  1. Select a healthy parent rosemary plant.
  2. Take 4-5 softwood cuttings [Note 1] from the stem at least 4 inches long using sharp scissors or secateurs.
  3. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem.

Root the cutting

EITHER

  • Place the rosemary cuttings in a jar with 1-2 inches of clean water, and leave them to form roots before planting. Change the water every 2-3 days. It may take up to two weeks for roots to appear.

OR

  • Dust the end of the cuttings with rooting hormone before planting.

Plant rosemary cuttings

  1. Prepare a pot with potting mix. Make a small hole with a stick or your finger - one for each cutting.
  2. Plant cuttings into holes in the soil. Firm the soil around the stems so they stand up securely.
  3. Place the rosemary cuttings in a warm spot with indirect sunlight
  4. Monitor daily for soil moisture levels, water it when soil starts to feel dry at the surface.

Notes

  1. Choose stems with soft new growth, green flexible stems.

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