Rosemary is one of my absolute favorite herbs. I never tire of that heady scent when I brush against a rosemary bush while gardening, or the flavour of rosemary when added to recipes. Just as excitingly, however, rosemary is super-simple to propagate from cuttings when the conditions are right.
Whether you’re looking to expand your own collection of rosemary bushes or you’d like to take cuttings from someone else’s plant here’s exactly how to do it…
Cut New Growth from a Mature Plant
The first step to growing rosemary from cuttings is finding the right stem to start off with. The very best sprigs to are the new shoots from a mature plant. These sprigs will have green stems, unlike the older stems which are brown.
Use a sharp pruning knife to make a tidy cut, aiming for several inches of stem. To prevent your cuttings drying out it can be wise to take them early in the morning or in the late evening before rapidly proceeding to step two.
Remove the Lower Leaves from the Cuttings
Once you collect your cuttings the next step is to then remove the lower needles from them.
This part is pretty simple as you can just pluck them off or rub your fingers from the top to the bottom of the stem.
The goal is to make sure that roughly the bottom 1-2 inches of leaves have been removed, which prevents the cuttings from drying out too much during the rooting phase.
Place the Cuttings in Water
After taking the needles off the lower portion of the stem, place the stem in water. A small vase-like container tends to work well, as you want the bottom of the stem underwater so that it can soak up water, while the upper part of the cutting should remain above the water to photosynthesize.
Keep a close eye on the water levels in the container, and refill it as necessary to keep the bottom part of the sprig wet. This process may take some weeks, so placing the seedlings into semi-shade can reduce the evaporation rate, minimizing your workload.
Plant the Cuttings Once Roots Appear
Some days or weeks later all your patience and effort should be rewarded by the sight of tiny hair-like roots. Initially these will be barely perceptible, but they should start to grow rapidly over time. Once the roots are an inch or so in length it should be safe to transition your cuttings to a compost substrate.
Rosemary tends to best in compost that is well drained and gently acidic in nature. They also appreciate bright sunlight, so aim for a reasonably sunny area of your garden for best results.
While it might take a little bit of time for these new rosemary plants to become established in their new compost, once they start they tend to grow surprisingly rapidly.