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How to (Not) Grow Rosemary

My parents have a gorgeous rosemary plant that just keeps growing and growing.  They are forever hacking away at it because it’s just too huge.  I was always under the impression that rosemary was easy to grow, yet I’ve attempted to grow rosemary several times with no success.   The really funny thing about my parents’ rosemary plant is that it’s in the koi pond.

Rosemary is a beautiful culinary and medicinal herb. It's easy to grow, but learn from my mistakes. Here's how NOT to grow rosemary!

Rosemary is supposedly happy in warm, dry, sunny, areas.  And I’ve managed to drown at least one rosemary.  So I am a bit baffled as to their success.  Nevertheless, I purchased rosemary starts dutifully each spring, determined that it will live!  The Herbal Academy even lists rosemary as one of 5 easy to grow herbs.

My best rosemary in Portland went into the front yard herb garden.  It was protected from rambunctious chicken scratching out there.  It was sunny and as warm as it gets!  That soil was however slightly acidic, so I had to amend the hole with wood ash (something I didn’t try the first few times).  

Because my front yard soil wasn’t great when we moved in, when I planted, I made sure the hole was nice and deep, the back filled it with finished compost. 

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Then the trick is not to overwater.  I have this really bad habit of forgetting to water and then drowning all my poor dried out plants.  

So, in review…

How to NOT grow rosemary:

  • Let the chickens rip it out
  • Put it in a nice shady spot under the pine tree
  • Forget to water it for a month or so
  • Suddenly remember you should water it once in a while and leave the hose on all night

How TO grow rosemary:

  • Sunshine!
  • Loose alkaline soil!
  • little bit of water (unless it decides to live in the fish pond)

In San Antonio our rosemary has been much, much happier.  Picking the right plants for your micro-climate really does make a difference. 

If this is your first time growing rosemary, you’ll want to grow it from a cutting or transplant.  Wait to plant it out until all possibility of snow or frost is past.  They like to be warm. 

You can keep yours in a pot, put it into the garden, grow it in a hedge, there are so many possibilities!  We currently have 4 bushes surrounding the trampoline.  It can withstand the occasional flung toy and kid trampling.  Plus that soil is sand covered in wood chips, so it’s VERY well drained. 

You won’t need to fertilize your rosemary, but it will appreciate some lime or wood ash.  If your weather gets below 0, you’ll likely want to grow it in a pot so you can bring it in during the winter.  Otherwise it will be fine.  Because it’s an evergreen plant, it will stay leafy all year and you can simply harvest it whenever you need it! 

So unless you have a crazy black thumb like me, you should be all set to grow rosemary on your FIRST try instead of your fourth!

If you are interested in learning more about how to USE herbs (once you master GROWING them, perhaps?), I highly recommend The Herbal Academy.  They have great courses, plus a membership site called the Herbarium with lots of awesome resources.  If you want more details about it, plus screen shots, check out 5 Reasons You Need To Learn About Herbs

Any other great rosemary growing tips out there?

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Tuesday 16th of April 2013

Just wanted to say that here in E. Texas we have quite acidic soil and I make no amendments other than yearly compost, and all of my rosemary plants are HUGE. I kind of just 'set it and forget it', and it seems to do fine. When I plant it, it is usually in the cooler months (it gets deathly hot/dry here), and I do have to water it maybe 2-3 times a week initially for a few weeks (if we receive no rain at all) to make sure that the roots do not completely dry out.

When the needles get that 'blue' look, or when the tips look like a shepherd's crook, it's time to water. The other thing that I think it loves is that our soil is almost straight sand here. Okay, it IS straight sand, besides the compost! So, drainage is extremely good.

It's funny; when I bought rosemary for the holidays and brought it inside, I always ended up killing it by overwatering it or completely forgetting I had it. It's feast or famine with my houseplants. Keeping it outdoors has, so far, been extremely easy. Good luck!


Wednesday 17th of April 2013

Oh, good to hear it does well in the acidic soil and nice and dry. I ended up planting mine with a shovelful of compost in the hole and it was quite happy until the goats got out and decided to rip it out. I replanted it and I'm still waiting to see if it will make it!

I'm glad your rosemary is happy!

Kristi @Let This Mind Be in You

Saturday 13th of April 2013

Argh, chickens really make such quick work of our gardens, don't they!

Thank you so much for sharing at Homesteading Bloggers Network's Green Thumb Thursday at Let This Mind Be in You! :)

~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You


Monday 15th of April 2013

Thanks! I really enjoy the link ups!

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