How to Grow Rosemary Indoors – Plus More
Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis, is a must have addition to any indoor herbal garden. The herb has a reputation for being a little bit finicky to care for, especially when it comes to watering.
But, if you read and follow this guide, you really shouldn’t have any problems.
Rosemary is quite a bushy shrub with a very distinctive smell and is another herb that’s native to coastal Mediterranean countries including North Africa.
The Romans introduced rosemary to Britain where many hundreds of years later, settlers brought the plant to North America.
With small, long, spiky leaves, and pale violet or blue flowers, rosemary is a very popular addition to an indoor herb garden.
Thanks to its unique aroma, many people grow rosemary for use as an addition to potpourris.
Aromatherapists will tell you about the health benefits of rosemary, such as its ability to stimulate the memory.
Apart from the health benefits of rosemary there are of course its culinary benefits, where the herb is used to enhance many dishes, particularly those with a similar Mediterranean background.
The benefits of rosemary also extent to beauty treatments, where certain antioxidants found in rosemary, can enhance the appearance of your skin.
In this guide on how to grow rosemary, we’ll not only show you how to care for rosemary, but also cover some of the main rosemary benefits relating to health, beauty and cooking.
Growing Rosemary Indoors
When grown indoors, rosemary enjoys plenty of bright light, either directly from the sun or with the help of an indoor grow light.
If you’re just starting out as an indoor herb gardener, you might like to check out indoor herb starter kits that come complete with grow lights.
Rosemary is known to be a very hardy plant that can survive quite extreme temperatures.
Outdoors, it can withstand low temperatures of -7 degrees F. ( -20 degrees C).
Indoors, it won’t have to deal with such extreme conditions, however, as with most potted into plants during the hotter months, it’ll need constant moisture.
As with most herbs, rosemary’s peak growing period occurs during the warmer months, June – August.
Watering Rosemary Indoors
Although rosemary is relatively drought resistant, it does require regular watering during the warmer months when grown in pots.
During winter, rosemary plants do not like their roots to be wet, so you can cut back on watering during the colder months.
Light watering may be required during winter to protect from drying out from warm air conditioners.
Rosemary can be a bit finicky when it comes to watering indoors, so don’t let the plant completely dry out.
Placing your potted rosemary on a tray of moist pebbles can help the plant in conditions of low humidity.
Although your rosemary plant will be protected from extreme cold when indoors, it’s a good idea to keep the plant away from cold drafts.
Rosemary enjoys a well- draining, loam- based soil mix that’s kept evenly moist.
Fertilize your rosemary plant with a balanced liquid feed, once flowering has finished.
How to Prune Rosemary
Like most herbs, rosemary enjoys a good pruning back from time to time. It helps make a bushier, more productive plant, ideal for cooks.
For a light trim, cut 1’’ – 2’’ (2.5 cm – 5.0cm) off the ends of branches. This will cause the branches to split, resulting in a bushier plant with more foliage for compact spaces.
For a more vigorous pruning, cut back no more that 1/3 of a branch after flowering and a few months before the peak harvesting period of May – October.
Make cuts just above a leaf joint with sharp, clean shears.
With your cuttings, you can hang them to dry in bundles tied together upside down in a cool, dry place.
How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings
Even though you can propagate rosemary from seed, most indoor gardeners prefer to grow rosemary from cuttings.
Cut stems from an existing evergreen plant that are around 2” (5cm) long, and remove the leaves from the bottom 2/3 of the cutting.
Place the cuttings in a mixture of perlite and peat moss, spraying with water until the cuttings begin to root.
Once roots have developed (4-6 roots on each stem), you can plant the cuttings in a 4” pot with drainage holes at the base.
Use a sandy, well-draining soil mix. A cactus potting soil is a good choice.
For each cutting, dampen the soil mix in a pot and use a pencil to make a 3’’-4’’ hole in the soil.
Carefully place the cutting in the soil to prevent any damage to the newly formed roots.
Gently cover with soil and water in thoroughly. Place each pot in filtered light or indirect sunshine until the roots are established.
Once the roots are established, you can move your new rosemary plant into more direct light for 6-8 hours a day.
Keep the soil moist to avoid drying out.
Being a fast grower, you’ll need to repot each year or so in larger pots as rosemary plants are prone to becoming root bound.
If the lower foliage starts to turn yellow, then this is usually a sign that repotting is required.
Harvesting indoor evergreen rosemary can be done anytime.
Use sharp, clean snips to harvest fresh rosemary as required, for immediate use or for drying.
Fresh rosemary can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.
To dry rosemary, you can hang them in bundles tied together, upside down in a cool, dry place.
Types of Rosemary
The types of rosemary most preferred by indoor gardeners are usually cultivars of the Rosmarinus officinalis variety.
When choosing cultivars for your indoor herb garden, made sure that you select one that is suited to pots.
I have selected two very popular types of rosemary for you to grow indoors, both with unique characteristics;
Tuscan Blue Rosemary
This variety of rosemary can grow up to 6ft (182cm) tall outdoors, much less indoors in pots, but it will require some pruning if space is limited.
Originating from Tuscany in Italy, Tuscan blue rosemary loves plenty of direct sunlight and warmth.
Prized for its ornamental attributes consisting of greyish – green needles, thick strong stems that hold succulent fat leaves and large clear blue flowers and maintain a very upright posture.
These attributes along with its propensity to grow, make it excellent for topiary training.
Tuscan blue rosemary has a lovely pine like scent and a relatively mild flavor, making it a favorite amongst chefs.
Blue Boy Rosemary
Blue boy rosemary is a dwarf or miniature cultivar, which makes it a natural for growing indoors in pots.
Unique amongst other types of rosemary due its size, blue boy rosemary only grows to 6” – 10” (15 – 25cm) in height.
A perfect choice for an indoor garden or where space is limited, this variety of rosemary is compact and slow growing, offering a profusion of long blooming light blue flowers held over small evergreen leaves.
It also has a great taste, making it popular amongst home cooks.
Rosemary Health Benefits
Being high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, rosemary has many potential health benefits.
One of my favorite uses for this herb is to snap off a twig of fresh rosemary or apply droplets of rosemary oil to my hand, and take a deep sniff to clear my head and improve my concentration.
It’s immediate effect really is amazing. Try it!
Due to its high antioxidant levels, particularly its content of carnosic acid, rosemary is considered good for the brain, helping to protect against brain damage and speed up recovery for stroke victims.
Carnosic acid is also considered to have eye health benefits, protecting the eye, particularly the outer retina from age related degeneration.
Early research is showing promising signs for the potential for this herb to prevent brain related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Further research is showing encouraging signs, although very early, that rosemary may help slow the spread of certain cancers such as leukemia and breast cancer.
More research is suggesting that by adding rosemary to ground beef can help reduce the level of carcinogens formed when cooking meat.
Rosemary Benefits for Beauty
Many of the underlying factors resulting in the above rosemary health benefits, can also result in beauty benefits.
When rosemary is consumed as a tea, the phytochemical components inhibit lipase, which is an enzyme that breaks down fat.
By slowing down the breakdown of fat, you feel fuller and do don’t need to eat as much.
Rosemary tea can be drunk or applied directly to the skin.
When applied to the skin, the antimicrobial properties in rosemary, can fight fungal or bacterial infections, blisters and even acne.
The high levels of antioxidants in rosemary also result in tightening of the skin, reducing the side effects of aging, and leaving your skin looking fresh and glowing.
Rosemary tea can also help increase blood circulation in your scalp which boosts hair growth.
The regular rinsing of your hair with rosemary tea can help to reduce the signs of baldness, prevent your hair from falling out or reducing its color, and reduce dandruff.
Trouble Shooting- Common Rosemary Plant Care Issues
Rosemary is very hardy plant and generally quite hard to kill. When grown indoors, rosemary is not likely to be affected too badly by pests or disease.
The most common disease is Downey mildew, a mass of tiny white spores that effect many indoor plants.
Most other rosemary plant care issues are usually a result of a lack of sunlight and a lack of water in summer.
Here are some of the most common rosemary growing issues;
Problem: lower foliage is starting to turn yellow
Cause: A common sign of root bind
Solution: Repot your rosemary into a larger pot
Problem: white powdery appearance on leaves
Cause: Downey mildew
Solution: Wipe off mildew powder with a damp cloth and then spray with neem seed oil
Problem: looking dry and colorless
Cause: Not enough water
Solution: Keep up your watering, especially in summer
Problem: Stunted growth, lacking color
Cause: Lack of bright light
Solution: Move your plant to a sunnier spot or use a small grow light.
Rosemary Tea Recipe
No need to get too complicated when it comes to making rosemary tea.
Sweeten to taste or mix with lemon balm for a refreshing and healing drink.
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 1 teaspoon of rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon of honey/sugar/sweetener ( optional)
- Mix together and enjoy!
Rosemary Hair Rinse
Use this hair rinse twice a week to keep your hair looking healthy and full.
- 2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 cups of water
- Bring the water to the boil
- Add the rosemary
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan
- Switch the heat off after 5 minutes and leave to cool
- Strain the liquid into a squeezy bottle
- Rinse your hair after shampooing and leave 2-3 minutes before washing out the rinse
How to Grow Herbs Indoors – The Series
Mint: how-to grow-mint-indoors
Rosemary: how-to grow-rosemary-indoors