Rosemary is an aromatic, evergreen shrub that is cherished across the globe for its use in food, medicine and ornamentation in the garden. It holds onto its needle-like leaves year round and blooms with vibrant blue flowers during spring and summer.
Originally from the Mediterranean, the rosemary plant gets its scientific name, Rosmarinus officinalis, from its green-grey colouring that’s said to resemble the sea mist against the cliffs. It’s name translates to “mist or dew of the sea”.
Rosemary plant care is simple as they’re low maintenance and drought resistant through the summer months. Keep reading for our top tips on how to care for rosemary plants in the UK.
How to Care for Rosemary Plants UK
Rosemary Plant Soil
As rosemary plants come from the Mediterranean, they thrive in sandy, well-draining soil. They love drier conditions and won’t tolerate their roots sitting in water for too long.
Ensure the area that you choose to plant has good drainage and try to improve if not. The easiest way to ensure the best conditions is to plant straight into a pot, in this case, plant into a soil based, peat free compost.
Rosemary Plant Location
Rosemary plants need at least 6-8 good hours of sunlight a day, so we would recommend placing in an area with full sun and good sunlight year round, especially in the winter when it is darker for longer.
In the UK, be mindful of the cold winters and ensure that you can provide some protection from frost. If your rosemary is growing in a pot then you can move to a more sheltered location if needed. Otherwise you can purchase some horti fleece to wrap around your planted rosemary.
Watering Rosemary Plants
Rosemary plants like dry conditions and are quite drought tolerant. They won’t need watering that often unless the weather has been very hot. Feel the first couple of inches of topsoil. If it’s dry to the touch, water deeply to fully soak the soil.
If you notice the soil is staying wet for too long you may need to look at improving the drainage as this can lead to root rot.
Potted rosemary plants will need watering more often throughout the year than planted, especially in hot weather. Potted plants don’t have access to any form of external water source so will dry out much quicker.
Fertilising Rosemary Plants
Rosemary rarely needs fertilising but feed can be added during the spring and summer months if you feel like growth is slow or the plant looks like it needs an extra boost.
Add a general multipurpose feed following the packet instructions adding weekly or monthly.
Growing Rosemary Plants in Pots
Planting your rosemary straight into a terracotta pot is one great way to help monitor the soil moisture. If you do tend to over water your plants then the porous texture of the pot will allow for extra moisture to escape.
No matter what type of pot you choose, always make sure it has good drainage holes.
Rosemary is notorious for becoming rootbound when grown in pots so we recommend repotting at least once a year.
To repot your plant choose a new pot that is around 2 inches larger than the current one. Transfer the plant to the new pot using a soil based, peat-free compost.
Some signs to see if your plant needs repotting:
- The soil is drying out much quicker than it used to
- Yellowing of the lower foliage
- Soil depletion
How to Prune Rosemary Plants
Pruning your rosemary bush is not a necessity but is a good idea to encourage lots of bushy new growth and stop the plant becoming leggy over time.
To conduct a large pruning, wait until it has finished flowering. Trim the branches back by a few inches, always placing the cut above a leaf joint, this will then branch out into 2 making the plant bushier over time. As a general rule of thumb, never remove more than one third of the plant at once and also avoid cutting into the woody stems.
Use the freshly trimmed sprigs in cooking or dry them out for use at a later date. These cuttings can also be used to propagate more rosemary plants.
How to Propagate Rosemary from a Cutting
After you finished pruning your rosemary plant, why not use the cuttings and try your hand at propagation?
Start by choosing cuttings that are around 5cm (2in) in length. Next remove all the lower needles from two thirds of the way down. Take the bare end of the cutting and place in a mixture of perlite and peat moss and add some water.
Spray the soil daily to keep it moist until you start to notice some roots growing.
Once you have a nice root system developing you can plant up in a new pot and it will begin to grow like your other rosemary plants.
Rosemary Plant Pests
Rosemary plants kept in good conditions with full sun, the right amount of water and good air circulation should live a relatively pest free life. Some that you should watch out for are spider mites and powdery mildew.
Spider mites should be easy to spot as they often leave a web substance on the leaves. You may also notice your plant starting to turn yellow and growth stunted. To treat spider mites, spray your plant with a diluted mixture of dish soap and water to remove the mites. Next, create a mixture of neem water and oil spray on the plant as well as this will prevent them from breeding.
Powdery mildew can also be an issue for rosemary plants but is mainly found on those grown indoors. A white powdery substance may start to appear on the leaves and is usually a result of high humidity. If you find your plant has this, try moving it to somewhere a little drier. Try removing some of the mildew gently by hand and then spraying again with a mixture of neem oil and water.
Send a Rosemary Plant as a Gift
Our rosemary plant gift is perfect to send for a wide variety of occasions, whether that's a birthday, anniversary or even a memorial. If you have loved ones that love their cooking, send them their very own herb garden gift, a trio of mini lavender, rosemary and thyme trees in pots.
Fresh rosemary is fantastic for using in the kitchen to create aromatic recipes or fragrant cocktails. Try drying the rosemary to help it last longer or infuse in olive oil so you always have supply at your fingertips.