Caring for your Rosemary Plant
Rosemary is a popular herb that's a member of the mint family and is widely used in all kinds of cuisines, especially so in Mediterranean dishes. It's a lovely and hardy plant that's nice to keep around, but also incredibly useful in the kitchen. There are many things you can do with Rosemary - you can create compound butter, infuse it in your cooking oils or simply use it on the grill when roasting meat or vegetables.
As if those aren't enough uses, Rosemary plants are also air-purifying, and release some of its fragrant oils into its surroundings. You probably won't be able to detect a significant scent however, especially if you only own a pot or two.
The Rosemary plant can be grown both on the ground and in containers, and different care tips are required for the different mediums. In this post we write about the care needed to grow your Rosemary plants in pots!
Rosemary requires full sunlight for about 6 hours each day. If growing indoors, place it near the window with a good amount of light throughout the day.
Rosemary plants are relatively drought-tolerant and will be fine if occasionally under-watered. Water your Rosemary whenever the soil is dry to the touch. Don't let the soil dry out completely though! As a plant that is very sensitive to drainage, ensure that you do not over-water or leave it in waterlogged soil. When watering, drench the soil such that water freely flows from the drainage holes.
Your pot for a full-grown Rosemary should have drainage holes and a diameter of at least 12 inches to allow comprehensive root growth. For the potting medium, you can use a mix of regular soil, pine bark/peat moss and perlite (fine volcanic rock that improves aeration of roots). It's ideal to keep your potting mix slightly acidic.
You can repot your Rosemary yearly to refresh the nutrients in its soil, or whenever it starts to get too crowded and dense. To split your Rosemary into separate pots, remove it from its current pot in its entirety - you can poke chopsticks through the pot's drainage holes or gently hit your pot against a table so that the entire root system slides out. Carefully divide your Rosemary into two all the way from its roots, and repot into fresh potting mix.
Make sure to water your new Rosemary thoroughly and provide large amounts of sunlight.
You can propagate your Rosemary via stem-cutting. First things first, find a healthy, young stem to use as your cutting, avoiding old and woody stems. Cut a 5 - 6 inch length (measured from its tip) of stem and remove its lower leaves. Place it in water and put your setup in a warm place, keeping it out of direct sunlight. Change the water every few days to prevent rotting and in 1 - 2 months, you should observe roots growing.
Place your newly-rooted stem into a pot of cactus mix, and place your pot in indirect sunlight until the root system is stronger. You can test this by gently tugging on your stem, if it provides some resistance, it's ready to be moved into direct sunlight. Keep your soil moist until new growth is observed.
You can skip the fertiliser as Rosemary plants grow actively without much fertilisation. However, if your Rosemary appears pale and has a stunted growth, you can use a regular water-based fertiliser sparingly (less than once a month). Spray the fertiliser directly onto the roots instead of onto the plant, as it might cause fertiliser burn to its leaves and stems.
Rosemary die easily in the winter, as they are native to the sunny Mediterranean region. It's best to bring it indoors if you experience cold winters.
Leaves turning spotty and yellow, or presence of fine webs: Presence of spider mites. Spider mites reproduce very quickly so it's important for you to deal with them immediately. You can get rid of them by spraying them off with water, or by applying Neem oil. You should start to water your Rosemary a bit more frequently, as these mites love dry and dark places, and get their water by sucking the moisture out of your plant.
Leaves yellowing and falling off: Fungus on roots, or root rot. Roots will start to turn black and the entire plant will eventually die. If mildly affected, swiftly remove all wilting parts and treat with an organic fungicide. If severely affected, get rid of the entire plant. Do not reuse the same soil, or possibly the same pot before treating it. Disinfect all tools and containers that came into contact with infected plants.
Slow overall growth: Under-fertilised, or roots are overgrown. You can check your Rosemary's roots by inverting the plant out of the pot. If the roots have been circling around the pot, trim them and return to original pot. Alternatively, you can repot into a larger pot.
Prepared to grow your own Rosemary? Get one here.
P.s. Prune your Rosemary regularly even if you don't intend to consume it, so that it keeps a nice shape and active growth! Don't harvest more than a third of the plant at a time, as it grows slowly.