How to Start Rosemary Plants


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), is a colorful blooming flower, and a favored plant in the traditional herb garden. Dried, rosemary is a pungent herb that will add flavor to stews, meats and soups, or it can be brewed into tea. Although rosemary is a hardy perennial, it can be treated as an annual in northern climates with extremely cold winters. Rosemary does well in the garden or can be planted in containers. Rosemary is easy to start from stem cuttings in early summer.

Step 1

Fill a 3-inch pot with commercial potting mixture. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom.

Step 2

Dampen the potting mixture with a spray bottle. The potting mixture should be damp throughout, but not soggy.

Step 3

Cut a 3- to 4-inch stem from a healthy rosemary plant, using a sharp knife or pruners that have been wiped with rubbing alcohol to kill any bacteria. Strip the leaves off the lower half of the stem.

Step 4

Place a small amount of powdered rooting hormone in a disposable plastic container. Dip the cut end of the stem in the powder, with about an inch of stem covered.

Step 5

Plant the rosemary stem cutting in the pot, being careful not to scrape too much powdered rooting hormone off the stem. Spray the potting mixture lightly to settle the potting mixture around the stem.

Step 6

Place the pot in a sunny spot away from direct sunlight. Check the potting mixture every two or three days. Although the plastic will keep the environment humid, be sure to mist the potting mixture if the top of the mixture feels dry to the touch.

Step 7

Remove the plastic from the container when the rosemary stem cuttings have rooted, and move the pot into direct sunlight. Water the rosemary when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch.

Step 8

Transplant the rosemary into a 6-inch container when the roots are at least an inch long. Plant the rosemary outdoors after all danger of frost has passed the following spring.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-inch pot with drainage hole
  • Commercial potting mixture
  • Spray bottle
  • Sharp knife or pruners
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Powdered rooting hormone
  • Disposable plastic container
  • Plastic bag
  • Rubber band
  • 6-inch container with drainage hole


  • Colorado State University: Rosemary
  • University of Nebraska: Herb Gardening With Rosemary, Chives and Basil
  • University of Tennessee: UT Gardens' Plant of the Month: Rosemary
Keywords: rosemary, herb garden, stem cutting

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.