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How to Plant Rosemary in Pots or Containers

Collage on how to plant rosemary in pots or containers.

Rosemary is one of the most versatile herbs known for its healing properties. It has anti-inflammatory qualities, helps relieve anxiety, and promotes a good night’s sleep. Rosemary is also a chef’s friend and adds flavor to meat dishes, salads, and stews. It smells amazing too. By growing your own Rosemary in pots or containers, you’ll have all these amazing benefits at your fingertips.

How to Plant Rosemary in Pots - Step 2. Remove the Lower Leaves From the Cutting

How to Plant Rosemary in Pots or Containers


  • Deep Bowl
  • Plastic Lid
  • Potting Soil
  • Rooting Hormone (optional)
  • Pot or Plant Container
  • Paper Towel (optional)
  • Small Plastic Bag (optional)


  • Pruners or Scissors
  • Pencil


Step 1. Cut a Rosemary Sprig

How to Plant Rosemary in Pots - Step 1. Cut a Rosemary Sprig

Planting rosemary in pots and containers is easy, provided you know how to cut springs, prepare them, allow them to propagate, and plant them. The first step is to know which sprigs to cut and how to cut them.

Find a mature rosemary bush and use a small pair of sterile pruners of sharp scissors to cut a spring between 4 and 6 inches long, measuring from the tip of the rosemary branch. The best branches to harvest are soft green branches that have not yet matured and are still in their growth phase.

Alternatively, cut a long branch and snip this into 4 – 6-inch sections. It is important to plant the bottom end of each cutting as this is where the roots will propagate. An upside-down sprig won't grow.

Cut the sprig at the most fertile spot on the branch, just below a leaf node, where the leaf attaches to the stem. The tissue below the leaf nodes has meristematic tissue cells, which divide to form new roots.

Never cut slips from woody rosemary branches, and if you want to continue growing the mother plant, don't remove more than a third of the bush. Take sprigs from different places on the rosemary bush and wait until it has replenished itself and grows new shoots before you take cuttings again.

Interestingly, the sprig will resemble the parent, so the offshoot will replicate whatever the donor plant looks like, smells like, and how it grows.

Top Tips

It's advisable to cut the sprigs off at an angle. This makes planting them easier and helps speed up the growth process. Like other herbs, cut sprigs off in the morning when they are still moist before the day's heat dries them out.

The ideal time to grow rosemary from cuttings is between spring and summer when rosemary bushes are actively growing. In the fall, cutting clippings from bushes after they have flowered works just as well.

Step 2. Remove the Lower Leaves From the Cutting

How to Plant Rosemary in Pots - Step 2. Remove the Lower Leaves From the Cutting

Gently remove the leaves from the bottom section of your cutting. Rosemary bushes do not flourish when they are overwatered. Leaving leaves in water makes things worse, and they tend to rot.

Leaves come off easily, so you should be able to run your fingers down over the cutting and rub the leaves off. You could cut them with scissors or pruners if the leaves are stubborn. Remove up to 2 inches of leaves.

Top Tip

If you are going to prepare your cuttings for propagation after a while, have a damp, not wet, paper towel on hand. Wrap this around your rosemary cutting and place your wrapped sprig in a sealable Plastic bag to ensure it doesn't dry out.

Step 3. Prepare the Cuttings

How to Plant Rosemary in Pots - Step 3. Prepare the Cuttings

Preparing the cuttings for propagation is the most important step in growing rosemary. It's a good idea to dip the sprig into a rooting hormone to speed up the growth process. Dip a moist cutting into dry hormone powder and shake any excess powder off. 

Next, create a DIY sprig separator for growing your cuttings. The best way to successfully get your Rosemary to root is to grow and plant each cutting separately.

Making a DIY growth container is quick and easy. Mark crosses on a plastic container lid. Cut along the crosses. Ensure enough space between holes to give your sprig and its roots room to grow. The bigger the lid, the better.

Gently bend the plastic open around the cut crosses. This creates a stable stand to root rosemary in water. You will need a large glass bowl filled with water to hold the DIY sprig separator. Placing each sprig into a separate glass jar with a DIY sprig holder works just as well.

To successfully grow rosemary from sprigs, the leaves on the sprig must always stay above the water level as this causes them to rot and die. What's great about A DIY lid separator is that it allows you to position the cuttings so that the leaves remain above the lid and the stems reach into the water.

Fill the bowl or jar with fresh water every 2 or 3 days. Your cuttings need oxygen to grow, and freshwater provides this. It will take between 4 and 8 weeks for your rosemary sprigs to shoot roots. When a sprig has 4 to 6 ½ an inch long roots, they are ready to pot.

Top Tip

Keep your rooting rosemary jar in a warm spot in your home but not in direct sunlight. The warmth makes them root quicker.

Step 4. Pot your Rosemary

How to Plant Rosemary in Pots - Step 4. Pot your Rosemary

Before removing the rosemary roots from the water-filled bowl, ensure your potting pot, container, and soil are ready. Your container or pot should be at least 12 inches deep and 10 – 12 inches wide for optimal growth. However, Rosemary is hardy and will grow just about anywhere.

Rosemary does not like too much moisture, and pots need good drainage. Take this into consideration when choosing pots and containers for planting. The most effective way to add drainage to your pot or container is to drill a hole at the bottom and place a saucer or plate underneath it to allow the water to drain. Empty the saucer often.

Adding rocks to the bottom of the container adds extra drainage to keep your rosemary looking happy and healthy.

The best soil to use in your pot is a mix specifically for edible plants. If you can't find a suitable mix, sterile compost, perlite, and coarse sand in equal amounts. The benefit of using sterile compost is that it prevents weeds from growing in your pots. Perlite is a volcanic mineral that resembles the little white balls in potting soil mixes.

When your pot is filled with soil, remove the rosemary shoots from the water. Plant your rosemary sprig 3 – 4 inches deep. It's easiest to use a pencil to create the hole for planting.

In the initial growing stage, water it daily, but don't overwater your sprigs or let the soil become water-logged. As your plants grow, taper down the amount of water you give them until they are healthy and showing signs of growth, then water them weekly or when the plant feels dry.

Top Tip

Rosemary plants love heat and flourish in drier conditions. Indoor rosemary plants need to grow in warm spots with lots of light. Put your pot or container where your plant gets direct sunlight. Keep your pots indoors in colder climates or when a chilly winter sets in. Experienced rosemary growers suggest repotting your plants indoors.

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