How to Grow and Propagate Rosemary from Cuttings

The article gives details on how to grow and propagate rosemary from cuttings in water and soil, when to take cuttings and how to save a dying rosemary plant. Rosemary is very easy to grow from cuttings. It is a hardy plant that thrives in full sun. The rosemary cuttings can be propagated in soil and water in 4-5 weeks, as I have rooted many rosemary cuttings in water and soil in Sydney, Australia and produced new rosemary plants and gifted to my friends and relatives.

Although rosemary can be grown from seeds, it is easier to grow from sprig.

Rosemary plant grown from a cutting
Rosemary plant grown from a cutting

Rosemary Propagation From Cutting

For growing rosemary from a cutting, the first important step is to take proper cuttings.

Taking Cuttings

Rosemary cuttings root quite easily, provided you take correct type of sprigs at correct time. Summer is the best time to take rosemary cuttings for propagation.

Softwood green cuttings from the newly grown rosemary branches root easily and fast, while semi-hardwood cuttings may also root but take longer time. The roots grow more easily from nodes on a softer green stem.

If your rosemary cuttings are not rooting, the reason is probably the stem cuttings are too old, woody and hard.

Take 4 to 6 inches long cuttings from the top of a soft newly grown branch just below a leaf joint using using a sharp knife. You may take multiple cuttings from the same branch so long as they are soft.

Shorter 2 to 3 inch long cuttings will also root.

The good thing is that if you don't have access to a rosemary plant to take cuttings, you can use cuttings from supermarket or grocery store to grow them.

Prepare the Cuttings

Remove the lower leaves, and apply the rooting hormone at the cut end and the 1 inch of the cut end including the node. You can use either commercial chemical rooting hormone gel or powder or use natural hormones like aloe vera or honey.

Growing Cuttings in Soil

Planting Cuttings

The rosemary cuttings can be planted directly into the garden or a pot, but it is better to first root them in a small container, as shown below:

Take a small pot which has many holes at its bottom to drain water. Fill this pot with seed-raising potting mix or succulent and cactus potting mix or make your own by mixing potting soil with river sand or perlite in equal amount. The sand makes the soil mix free-draining.

Water the soil well so that it is moist at all points. Place the pot in shade for half an hour to drain excess water.

Make a hole in the soil with a stick and insert the cutting in it such that at least one node is nod is in soil.

Firm the soil around the cutting. You may plant more cuttings in the same pot.

DO NOT water again as the soil is already damp, and too much water is not needed as there are no roots.

Put the pot in a Ziploc bag or a polythene bag.

Place the pot at a warm and bright spot, away from direct sun light. If you live in a colder region, then place it indoors.

Open the bag every week and check the soil. Spray some water if soil looks dry and close the bag again.

The cuttings will root in a few weeks, depending on the temperature and age of cuttings. Softer cuttings root faster than wood cuttings.

Growing Cuttings in Water

The rosemary cuttings can be rooted in water easily. Just place the cuttings as prepared above in a clean glass filled with water. Optionally, you may apply some aloe vera gel or honey at the cutting end before putting it in water. The aloe vera gel acts as a natural rooting hormone, this will encourage roots grow quickly.

Place the glass in a sunny spot. Change the water in 3-4 days.

In a few weeks, you will see roots developing.

Once strong roots have grown, transplant the rooted cuttings into the garden or a container.

Rooting the rosemary cuttings in water produce roots faster, but you have to transfer them to soil for stronger plants.

Care For New Rosemary Plants

Sunlight: Place the pot in full-sun where it can get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. The plant does not tolerate shade. If growing indoors, place it near a south-facing window or use grow lights to provide supplemental light. This trick will help your rosemary plant to grow well indoors.

Soil: It prefers well-draining soil. Its roots don't like wet conditions for long, so standing water in soil will rot roots and the plant may die. It is therefore vey essential that the soil should be free-draining. For this add perlite or river sand in the potting soil. Overwatering is another reason for root rot and death of plant.

Saving a Dying Rosemary Plant

If you see that your rosemary plant is turning brown and dying in spite of taking care of soil and watering, don't worry, do the following to revive the plant:

Move the pot away from hot or cold air in your home. Relocate the plant in a sunny place where it receives sunlight for at least 6 hours daily.

Repot the plant. Take out the plant from the pot and remove the dead roots. Cut the roots by 25% and replace 25% potting mix with fresh soil.

The dying plant will begin new growth in 4-5 weeks.