How to Grow Rosemary in a Container

Rosemary growing indoors. 
Pairing perfectly with a variety of meats and culinary dishes, rosemary is a strong runner on the list for herbs to be grown in containers. With its fresh and unforgettable fragrance, rosemary is bound to please. Fortunately for gardeners, with a bit of patience and tender care, rosemary plants can be happily grown in a pot perched on the patio. Sure, this herb might require a bit more care than others, but the culinary value of fresh rosemary is by far worth the trouble. In this guide, learn the basics of how to grow rosemary in a container, as well as a few helpful tips to keep your plants thriving!


Plant Identification - Rosemary
  • Binomial Name - Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Family - Lamiaceae (Mints)

Basics of Growing Rosemary in a Container - 
  • Container  - Small containers just won't cut it for growing rosemary. Due to its extensive root system, it's best to grow rosemary plants in at least three gallon containers. One should also consider containers made of clay or wood over plastic ones. These will provide better oxygenation, reducing the risk of root rot. 
  • Full Sun - Rosemary is a full sun type of herb. While it may be grown with a minimum of six hours of full sunlight, rosemary will do much better with eight to ten hours. 
  • Potting Soil - The proper potting soil will not only have to provide adequate nutrition, but also must provide excellent drainage. Look for potting soils high in composted organics, but also heavily amended with perite or vermiculite. Rosemary will need to be watered often, so it is very important that drainage be at its maximum. If not, soils could become waterlogged and in turn be the perfect incubator for root rot. 

Rosemary from Seed or Cutting? - 

Rosemary cuttings for the 2013 season.
Many kitchen herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley will all readily sprout from seed and grow quickly. This tends not to be the case when it comes to rosemary. This tough to grow evergreen can cause the gardener great frustration between low seed viability and difficult seedling care. So, when answering the question, "from seed or cutting plant?", I'd advise to grow from cutting. This type of rosemary is basically a branch of new growth that was snipped from a living specimen and allowed to root, thus creating a new rosemary plant. These cutting plants grow much quicker and are easier to care for. To take cuttings of your own:
  1. Find a donor rosemary plant and snip a three to four inch piece of new growth from the plant. 
  2. Strip off the leaves on the bottom two inches and then push into moist potting soil. 
  3. Over the next few weeks, be sure to keep the soil moist and the plants in adequate sunlight. 
  4. The cuttings should develop roots within three to four week's time. 

How to Grow Rosemary in a Pot - 
  1. Around the time of the average last frost in your area, rosemary will be ready to be planted outdoors in containers. To plant, fill your container will potting soil and plant the rosemary right in the center. Gently pack down the soil and water in well. 
  2. Place the rosemary container in an area that will receive at least six full hours of direct sunlight.
  3. Water the rosemary plant thoroughly once the top inch of soil has become dry. For most gardeners, watering every other day should suffice. 
  4. Once a month, feed with compost tea. This gentle nutrition will help the rosemary produce an abundance of new growth. 
  5. To keep your rosemary plant alive year round, bring indoors when autumn temperatures dip below freezing. 

Harvesting Rosemary - 
Rosemary can be harvested often throughout the season. For optimal flavor and aroma, plan to harvest your rosemary plants during the early morning hours. The essential oil concentration in the foliage is at its highest during this time. To harvest, snip off new growth. This can be done in a heavy or light method, as rosemary will grow back fairly quickly.


Advanced stage of powdery mildew on rosemary. 
Tips for Successful Rosemary - 
  • Powdery Mildew - Since a lot of gardeners obtain their rosemary plants from nurseries and garden centers, powdery mildew is an important topic to cover. This fungal disease attacks rosemary plants (especially those grown indoors), and can just be an overall headache for gardeners. If there is ever any white fuzz on rosemary foliage, avoid purchasing rosemary from that garden center. 
  • Companion Planting - To maximize the usage of rosemary in your garden, plant with beans, broccoli or cabbage. Rosemary works well with these plants as it repels bean beetles, cabbage flies and cabbage moths. 

With the basics above, you'll be well on your way to growing rosemary in containers. Just stick close to your watering regimen and you'll be able to harvest more rosemary than you could ever ask for. Thanks for reading this article on how to grow rosemary in a container. As always, please leave any comments or questions you may have.