How To Propagate Rosemary {It’s Easy}

Rosemary is one of my favorite culinary herbs and I use it frequently in my cooking, especially to flavor meat like goat and lamb.

Because of its strong flavor, it is a firm favorite as a pot plant in the house or growing in a herb garden where the climate allows. In my home country Croatia, people grow it as an ornamental and edible hedge and it smells divine to walk by those homes.

You may be surprised how easy it is to propagate rosemary to use yourself or even gift.

To propagate rosemary, take a new-shoot cutting from a healthy rosemary bush, remove the bottom two inches of leaves and place the bottom of the stem in clean water. Place in a bright spot and change the water regularly until roots grow. Transfer the rooted rosemary to a pot plant.

a womans hand holding a bunch of fresh rosemary

While it is easy to propagate rosemary from a cutting, there are a few tips and tricks to make the process foolproof. It is so easy that you will probably propagate several new rosemary bushes on the first try and never look back.

a bundle of rosemary cuttings ready for propagation on a wooden desk next to a pair of scissors

How To Propagate Rosemary From A Cutting

If you have an established rosemary bush already, follow the simple steps below to propagate new bushes:

1. Take A 5-6 Inch Cutting From An Established Rosemary Bush

From your established rosemary bush, select a few healthy stems with new growth that will be your cuttings. If the stem of the rosemary cutting is green, it indicates that it will root more easily than a woody and brown stem.

Using a pair of gardening scissors, cut these stems off the bush, and be careful not to bruise or damage the rest of the stem. Cutting a few sprigs will ensure that at least one or two grow roots, as sometimes a sprig will fail to take.

Cut the rosemary stem about 5-6 inches from the tip of the branch.

Once you have taken a cutting, it is best to proceed to steps two and three as soon as possible. If the stem dries out, it is less likely to root, so be quick!

2. Strip The Leaves Off The Bottom Section Of The Rosemary

Remove the leaves off the bottom two to three inches of the stem. If the leaves are left on the stem, they may rot in the water and stop the stem from rooting.

To remove the leaves, use one of the following two methods:

  • Method 1: Using your fingers, wrap them around the stem about two to three inches from the bottom of the stem. Keeping your fingers held tight, pull the stem between your fingers to pull the leaves off.
  • Method 2: Using a pair of scissors with a sharp point, individually cut off each leaf from about two to three inches from the bottom of the stem.

Put the leaves aside to use in cooking or other ways. Fresh rosemary shouldn’t be wasted!

a bunch of rosemary on a wood cutting board

3. Place The Rosemary Cuttings In Water

Place the stripped cuttings into a jar or small glass of clean water. The water should reach just below the remaining leaves.

Put the jar or glass in a bright and warm spot. Do not put the rosemary cuttings in direct sunlight, as this may overheat the cuttings and cause them to die before they can root.

Replace the water every few days with fresh, room temperature water. The dissolved oxygen in the fresh water will help keep the cuttings from rotting in the water.

4. Wait For Roots To Grow From The Rosemary Cuttings

Watch the base of the stems for new roots. Keep changing the water regularly, and roots should start to grow from the bottom of the cuttings within four to eight weeks. They will begin as small nodes on the base of the stem and grow quickly after that.

In colder weather, this process may take a little longer. The cutting should root if the leaves on the cutting are still green. If the leaves turn brown and start to fall off, the cutting may have died and will not root.

If the worst happens and all your cuttings die, try the process again, replacing the water more regularly.

4 rosemary plants transplanted into terracott pots outside on a small bistro table next to a chair and watering can

5. Transfer The Rooted Rosemary To A Pot

A few weeks after the roots appear, and when four or more roots have grown on the cutting, reaching a length between ½ to two inches long, it is time to transfer the cuttings to individual pots.

Rosemary is originally a Mediterranean plant and prefers drier soil. Gently pot the newly rooted cuttings in a sandy soil mix and ensure the pot has good drainage. Water the newly planted pots and allow them to drain sufficiently.

Place the pots in a warm and bright spot until the roots establish themselves in the soil, then move them into a sunny area with direct sunlight for about six hours a day.

6. Harvest Your Propagated Rosemary

Once your rosemary cuttings have established themselves as propagated plants, wait until they have grown to at least six inches above the soil before cutting sprigs off for cooking or other uses.

Be careful not to over-harvest the newly propagated plant as it will still take some time to establish fully. Never cut more than 1/3 of the plant away at any given time.

closeup of a beautiful and healthy rosemary bush plant

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Propagate Rosemary?

Rosemary can be propagated at any time of the year. Still, propagating rosemary works best when the cuttings are new green shoots usually found on the bush in spring and summer.

The new plants will also have time to grow before the winter months if you propagate in spring when the plant is in an active growth phase.

Why Should You Propagate Rosemary?

Besides the fact that propagating your own rosemary is practically free to do, there are two other good reasons to propagate rosemary at home:

  1. Stem cuttings have a head start on seeds or seedlings. Because a propagated rosemary stalk already has a few inches of the established stem, it will grow quickly and be fully established in just a few months. Compared to growing a rosemary bush from a seed that may only be ready to harvest the following season, propagating a rosemary bush from cutting is the far quicker way to get the benefit of this wonderful plant.
  2. The propagated plant will be a clone of the plant the cutting was taken from. The new plant will have the same flavor, growth rates, flowers, and disease resistance as the one the cutting was taken from. This means you know what you’ll get before it has even rooted. Compared to buying a new plant, where you are not guaranteed a good plant, propagating a rosemary bush is the best way.
a bunch of rosemary for propagating on a wooden table next to a red gingham napkin

You don’t need special skills or a particularly green thumb to propagate rosemary. If you follow the steps above and have a little patience, you can have as many rosemary bushes in your house and garden as you would like. Choose a healthy plant to take the cuttings from, and be sure to change the rooting water regularly. You will have a propagated rosemary plant in a matter of weeks. Happy planting!

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