Rosemary is high on the list of essential herbs for the garden.
This dense shrub is a vigorous grower with a million uses in the kitchen, from grilling to cocktails and more. Who doesn’t want as much of this versatile plant as possible in their garden?
Those who want to grow large quantities of rosemary in their garden, possibly for a hedge or a well-stocked orchard, shouldn’t waste their money buying established plants from the nursery.
It is very easy to grow your own by propagating it from cuttings. You can even cut stems at a neighbor’s and grow new plants absolutely free.
This process of conifer reproduction applies to many other plants, including other herbs like lavender.
In just 10 minutes you can prepare your cuttings for strong root growth, allowing you to grow dozens or even hundreds of new plants from scratch.
When to Propagate Rosemary
Rosemary can technically be propagated any time of the year except winter due to its lack of growth. However, it is best to propagate in early to mid spring once new growth has started.
This is because rosemary is planted with softwoods, the tender new growth of the plant. If left too long, this new growth will become woody and unsuitable for propagation.
By propagating in the spring, you also take advantage of the rapid growing season, which promotes root growth and allows cuttings to become established much faster.
How to Propagate Rosemary
Step 1: Find a Stem
Make sure you have some sharp pruning shears handy before you begin propagation. Dull shears can damage the parent plant and cause regrowth problems. They must also be thoroughly cleaned to prevent disease transmission. Dull, dirty pruning shears are two of the most common pruning mistakes that lead to failure.
Next, find a healthy stem with visible new growth. The stems will have a lighter green color instead of the woody texture of the lower stems.
The new stems should separate easily from the tip of the old shoot (although breaking them is not recommended).
Do not pick stems that are losing their leaves or are damaged. The healthier stem will be much more likely to grow and maintain strong root growth. Damaged or diseased cuttings will also pass these problems on to the new plant, or probably won’t root.
Step 2: Make a Cut
With your ideal rod(s) chosen, it’s time to make a cut. Remove at least a four-inch section of stem, making sure the bottom of the cut is softwood growth. Any hardwood in the cut should be removed with your shears before spreading.
Don’t worry about your plant looking skinny when you prune it. Since propagation takes place in the spring, these stems are likely to regrow and even branch into more stems. Pruning is an essential part of spring rosemary pruning and kills two birds with one stone.
Cut the slightly angled stem just below a set of leaves. The rods should be incredibly easy to remove – any resistance indicates that you need to sharpen your shears better or choose a handle with a smoother growth.
Harvest as many cuttings as you want to propagate. At least three will fit in a medium-sized pot, if you have enough new growth on the plant. If your rosemary stems are very long, you can even cut them into four-inch pieces.
Step 3: Remove the sheet
After taking the cuttings, the next step is to remove the leaf from the lower half of the cutting. For taller cuttings, remove the bottom two to three inches of the leaves. Remove it carefully so as not to damage the rod parts.
Be sure to keep at least two inches of leaves at the top of the cutting. These leaves are essential for photosynthesis which gives the plant enough energy to make roots. Without these leaves, the roots cannot grow.
The leaves should be removed to expose the nodes where the roots will grow. It also prevents the leaves from rotting underground and attracting disease. Exposed portions of the cup eventually end up underground.
At the same time, remove any blooming or fading flowers from the cutting. This potency of the juice from the cutting can be used for root growth. You can also use this time to remove damaged leaves for the healthiest cut possible.
Step 4 – Soak in Rooting Hormone
Rooting hormone is a powder that stimulates root growth in softwood cuttings. It is specially formulated to help the plant produce the strongest roots possible while preventing bacterial or fungal disease problems in the open wound that has been exposed to soil.
Rooting hormone is not an absolute necessity when propagating. Cuttings of coniferous rosemary often root without this help. However, this makes rooting much more likely.
When you’ve put all your effort into propagation, you don’t want a lack of roots to ruin the whole process. This is a valuable extra step to take, if only to increase your chances of success.
recommended item: Rontone Root Powder
Take the cuttings and dip the ends in water and then in rooting hormone powder. Always transfer a small amount from the container to another container rather than dipping directly into the container as this can transfer bacteria and disease and contaminate the bottle.
For the same reason, you should always discard excess rooting hormone rather than repotting it.
Step 5: Carrot
Now comes the easy part: rooting. Here you have two options. You can root the cuttings in water or plant them directly in the ground.
carrots in water
To root in water, simply place the cuttings in a half-filled glass of water and tilt the cuttings to one side to make sure they don’t fall into the water. The water should only reach the exposed part of the cut. All foliage should be kept out of water to prevent rot.
For a more sophisticated option, invest in a plant propagation station to incorporate growing new plants into your home decor.
It is best to use filtered water to root the cuttings. Tap water can contain a wide variety of chemicals that can inhibit the growth of fragile cuttings. If you don’t have filtered water on hand, you can always boil some in a kettle and let it cool before planting.
Water should be room temperature, rather than ice cold, to prevent shock and promote growth. A little lukewarm water is fine too, as long as it’s not so hot that it burns the stem.
Keep the water clean by changing it regularly when it becomes cloudy. You should also fill the glass as the water evaporates. Now keep an eye on it and watch the roots grow!
If the stems do not root after a few weeks, remove them from the cutting to prevent the rotten stems from affecting the growth of other cuttings.
The cuttings are ready to be transplanted into the ground when the roots have grown several centimeters. You can plant them in separate pots to grow them, or put them directly in the garden.
carrots in the ground
Alternatively, you can plant the cuttings directly into the ground. This eliminates the risk of root growth, but allows for much stronger root growth. Cuttings taken out of water have difficulty recovering from the shock, while cuttings taken out of the ground are already used to the conditions.
You can also let the cuttings grow and repot for several months before transplanting, which greatly increases the chances of a successful transplant.
Start by making a mixture of croissants. We use a mixture of half coconut fiber and half sand. Coir is a lightweight blend that improves drainage and aeration and strengthens root growth. The sand also improves drainage and better mimics the conditions the cuttings will find themselves in when replanted. These materials are also low in nutrients, an important factor for the growth of new vulnerable roots.
Fill a saucepan with this mixture and baste thoroughly to moisten. Empty all water from the drainage holes before planting. Press to firmly compact the mixture.
Take your cuttings and poke small holes in the soil with a skewer. Plant your cuttings in these holes and bury them until the first set of leaves is just above the soil line. If necessary, press around the cut to secure it.
Take a few skewers and thread them around the edge of the mold. Then cover the entire jar with a clear plastic bag, like a sandwich bag. This increases the humidity around the cuttings creating a mini greenhouse, creating the ideal environment for root growth.
Place the jar in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist during growth. Once new growth is seen and the cuttings can no longer be pulled out of the ground, you know they are starting to develop roots.
After a few weeks, your successful cuttings will be ready to transplant. Plant each cutting in a separate pot filled with well-drained potting soil or move them directly into the garden.
Related reading: 10 Useful Rosemary Companion Plants (And 5 Plants To Avoid)
Watch the cuttings closely for signs of stress in the first few weeks. Make sure they are well watered and get enough sun to establish successfully and grow into the tall, bushy plants you want.