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What is the best way to propagate Rosemary?

We are looking to propagate our medium sized Rosemary shrub and have seen around 5 different ways to do this, so we will be experimenting with them all and sharing our findings!

There are a few ways to propagate rosemary, from taking cuttings and planting directly into a soil, to using growth hormone and putting the cuttings in water. You can also grow from seed, but germination is lengthy and unpredictable. We wanted to explore all of the ways available and find the most reliable solution, so please let us know what you make of our trials in propagation!

rosemary cuttings ready to propagate

Taking cuttings for propagating

  1. Do all of this in Early Spring when your plants are starting to wake up! Don’t even bother when they are flowering as they will not be interested!
  2. Find a healthy stem and with a pair of sharp secateurs cut it on the diagonal around 3 inches in length.
  3. Remove the bottom leaves so that you can put about 2 inches into the soil or water later on.
  4. This should mean that you have enough leaves to catch sunlight and help the roots to take

Now this is where our experiment comes in. We want to know if the Organic Rooting Gel actually works. We also want to know if this is the sort of thing we can achieve in water or if we need soil.

YouTube Tutorial

Two ways to propagate Rosemary in Water

You have your healthy cutting that is stripped of the lower leaves, it has been cut on the wonk so as to increase its exposed surface area. So now you are ready to trial rooting in water. We want something easy and fool proof. Ideally that will have fast results.

The idea is not to leave these cuttings in direct sunlight but instead to allow them to grow in warm water. So you will need to change the water regularly as this will avoid any rotting of the stem.

Growing Rosemary Cuttings in Water – tips

One of the rosemary cuttings will sit in plain clear water. It will be next to another one with the rooting hormone on the stalk.

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I’m happy to give it a go as we had a beloved Camellia in a dear relatives garden, so it was very important that the cuttings grew. So even as a keen organic gardener I have used rooting hormones, but was able to find an organic one! So well worth a hunt as our relatives now all have a plant each that will bring lots of happy memories.

  • Do not leave the rosemary cuttings in direct sunlight – it will encourage mold
  • keep the rosemary cuttings warm and consistent in temperature
  • remember to change the water regularly
  • reapply the growth hormone with every water change in the first week or so, after that relax as the good work has been done
  • keep checking for signs of life as roots should start to appear within 2-4 weeks!
  • do not let the roots get slimy as this is a sign of ill health and may spread to other cuttings
  • to avoid rotting, do not over fill the water as you want the leaves to stand out of the wet at all times.
the experiment to see how well the rosemary cuttings propagate has started!

The expected turnaround on this is 2-4 weeks. That is until roots start to show, so how long do you give it until you then pop into soil? I would say give it until the roots have evenly sprouted. SO this means that when put into the soil it will give them the chance to gain nutrients from all around and you will get an even root ball.

Speaking candidly my worry about trying to propagate in water is that it is very Instagram friendly. Like it looks great, but what impact will it have on the stalk when we come to move it into soil? Could you accidentally knock some of those great root growths off? So that is now part of what we will need to be careful of! Which leads me on to why I love the ‘cuttings directly in soil’ method..

Propagate Rosemary Cuttings in Soil

This seems the best idea as you can use biodegradable plant pots meaning that once root growth has taken place you will be able to transfer to a larger pot without any root disruption. Where you have removed the leaves will become the openings for your roots to break out from. So those will be covered in the most suitable soil for seedlings and cuttings.

Usually with well established rosemary all you need is good drainage but for any cuttings you need the right soil as it is ‘gritty but also nutritious’ – which sounds like a dating app profile!

To grow good herbs you have to think like a herb and with Rosemary you must link back to some of the earliest uses in Ancient Egypt! So no ability to use soil enhancers there, but also plenty of good drainage!

We will dip one of the cuttings into the stinky root hormone, it has not ‘gone off’ it really does smell like that! One we will leave naked. The soil is warm and moist but not soaked through. You will find that nothing will encourage rotting more than damp conditions. To ensure that the small amount of soil is kept moist you can cover, we are going to use an electric propagator and just keep it in our kitchen.

once you take cuttings you will start to smell that gorgeous scent!

That is all you need to do, keep it moist and wait.

Now do you see why I prefer this method? The kids like to watch the roots grow in water. So do I actually. But as far as ease of getting a fair few in and forgetting about them goes this is the way to do it!

How to use layering to propagate rosemary

This is time for some sort of gardening wizardry. You will feel like an absolute boss after you achieve this one! Basically it is perfect for those of us who already have full propagators at this time of year. Spring is hectic for gardeners so you can do this outside where the rosemary grows.

  • Very much the same principle as using cuttings – but the cutting is mid point on a long stem
  • Find a stalk long enough to easily reach the ground.
  • Strip a section of leaves from where it reaches the ground – making sure there are leaves either side
  • When you have 3 inches of stripped bark you can create a peg for it
  • You will use this to pin it into the soil, with around an inch of woody bark either side of the mid point fully in the soil
  • Use a small stone or pebble to pin it if that is easier
  • Make sure there is no way it can push back upwards and then walk away
  • A few weeks later start to check on it, new growth will appear within a few more months
  • Then you can cut away from the mother plant and transplant to its new home.

Why not actually pin it into a new pot entirely? Then no roots need to be disturbed again. Like now you have a ready made gift for a neighbour!

We love Rosemary for it’s many great uses and qualities. So we want to make up lots of great recipes as well as homemade spa treatments. We hope you grow enough to want to make lots of different uses for it, but also to dry it and preserve it and perhaps use it to make up your own herb mixes?

Let us know if you are now fully equipped to propagate rosemary and what you might like to see next from us!

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