Growing rosemary in a container is quite easy and very rewarding, as long as you know how to properly plant and care for the plant.
In this complete detailed guide, I will tell you everything, that you need to know in order to grow your very own thriving rosemary plant right at home! So let´s get started!
What Kind Of Soil Is The Best For The Rosemary Plant?
The kind of soil that you use is essential to your plant’s overall health.
To grow rosemary in a pot, you need good quality commercial potting mixture in which you’ll need to add some ingredients such as pine bark or a cactus mix containing perlite.
The potting mix provides excellent drainage and proper aeration because it is airy, light, and fast-draining.
Fast-draining soil will ensure the ground is not soggy, which would cause the roots to rot.
The Soil should also be slightly acidic with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0.
Always make sure to water the soil only when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. However, at the same time, do not ever let the soil dry out completely because dry rosemary is dead rosemary.
A simple way to ensure you’re doing it right is if the top 1 to 2 inches feel dry. This is an indication that it is time to water.
Generally, the soil in potted plants degenerates through watering and root growth.
It is, therefore, advisable to re-pot at least once a year. Re-potting will also enable you to control the size of your shoots to avoid a considerable mass in one pot.
What Kind Of Container Should You Use?
Rosemary does best in a terra cotta pot with a diameter of at least 12 inches.
This diameter is to allow ample room for growth and expansion of the roots. The container must also have a drainage hole.
As noted earlier on, rosemary does not like wet feet, and it will rot in soggy, poorly-drained soil. Along with insufficient light and circulation, wetness will also cause it to get infected with powdery mildew in which just like its name, the plant will have what looks like white powder on the leaves.
A terra-cotta pot will help you in this aspect. Because you need to water the plant deeply, the container will allow free drainage.
Just make sure never to let the pot stand in water.
Remember, while pests are to blame for rosemary plants dying, most pests only infest a plant that’s already weakened.
Unfortunately, most herbs growing indoors are growing in a somewhat weakened state, no matter how much effort you put in.
A terra-cotta pot will also help to increase evaporation, as well as allow the soil to dry in between waterings.
When choosing the size of the container, you should also consider the type of rosemary that you are going to plant.
Low growing varieties that spread around will do well in smaller pots while taller variants will need medium to big pots for them to thrive.
What Rosemary Varieties Are There?
Generally, there are two types of rosemary, and all the variants fall under these two categories.
There are creeping varieties and upright varieties.
The upward varieties are great for both ornamental purposes and culinary flavoring.
The creeping types are a great aesthetic addition, although they can also be used for culinary purposes.
Upright Rosemary Variants
These varieties can grow to around 3-6 feet high with some variations getting to 12 feet.
As such, they are more suited for garden growing rather than growing them in a pot.
They make outstanding hedges and borders and are the best for flavoring purposes.
Shorter varieties of around 3-4 feet can still thrive indoors in a container.
Here are some of the most common upright variants;
This variety is a popular choice for hedges and borders.
It gets its name from the Tuscan region, where it is mainly found. The herb features pale blue-green leaves and grows to about 4-6 feet high.
It also spreads to 5 feet and has dark blue spikes as flowers
The leaves on this variant have an added gold color, and it is easy to assume that the herb is not doing well.
However, this color changes in different seasons. During the spring and fall, the leaves have a bright yellow color that may or may not turn green in the summer.
This variety can grow and spread to 3 feet and is an excellent choice for a garden border or a herb garden.
With light blue flowers, this variety is ideal for both ornamental and hedge purposes.
It is a fast-growing variety with a height and spread of 1-3 feet.
Full sun exposure and moderate levels of moisture are necessary conditions for the healthy growth of Salem Rosemary.
Creeping Rosemary Variants
As the name suggests, these variants do not grow upright.
Instead, they creep on the ground, making them ideal for use as ground cover.
While used in a herb garden, they provide an aromatic carpet and choke out the weeds. They are also great for cascading from window boxes and climbing over walls.
Creeping variants are, therefore, the best choice for indoor growing for both aesthetic and culinary uses.
Blue Boy Rosemary
This variant is sometimes called a dwarf upright Rosemary variant because it grows to a couple of inches taller than other creeping varieties.
However, it can be used for ground cover and also does well in the indoors. It produces edible blue flowers, and its leaves are always green.
Blueboy does not require too much water for proper growth.
This is one of the best creeping varieties available.
It does not grow beyond 2 feet and is an ideal choice for ground cover use.
It also does well in hanging baskets both indoors and outdoors. Prostrate rosemary thrives in a warm climate. Should you decide to grow this variety, placing it near a south-facing wall will provide some extra warmth.
This variety is different from most of the others in that it has pink flowers instead of the signature blue ones.
It is a great companion for roses and will thrive both indoors and outdoors.
How To Plant Rosemary In A Container?
When growing rosemary indoors in a container, you can choose to either propagate by seeds or by cuttings.
Propagation from seeds
Growing rosemary from the seeds is a long and tedious process.
It requires a lot of effort, time, and patience, which may then result in poor germination. The herb also takes years to fill in and mature for harvest.
This method also results in numerous plant variations, which means that the rosemary will often grow to be different from the parent plant. Unless you are willing to wait and risk a lower success rate, propagating from seeds should be your last resort.
Propagation from cuttings
Using cuttings is the easiest and fastest way to grow this herb.
It also ensures that the plant turns out to be a clone of the parent herb.
The best time to take cuttings is when the parent plant is vigorously growing, rather than when it is dormant.
If you have an outdoor plant, you can propagate during the summer and bring the pot indoors for the winter. This gives the plant a chance to survive the extreme temperatures, as well as give you a headstart for the next outdoor planting season.
To get the best cuttings, select a sturdy, young, and healthy-looking plant. From a soft, new growth of the herb, cut a stem at least 3-4 inches long measuring from the tip towards the plant.
Remove the bottom leaves and dip the end in rooting hormone powder and put it in a jar of water.
Once the roots emerge, transfer the herb to a container with soil.
This container should be placed in the brightest window for sufficient light or add a florescent light if the plant starts to struggle due to lack of light.
Yellowy leaves and the herb bending towards the window’s direction is an indication that it needs more light.
When the shoots appear, the herb will be ready for uprooting and transplanting into a permanent container.
Mist the plant and let the plant grow. Start trimming your plant after it flowers and prune it regularly to avoid lankiness.
How To Fertilize Your Rosemary Plant?
Rosemary essentially requires nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and magnesium to flourish and give sustainable high yields for close to a decade.
It is quite responsive to nitrogen supply, especially when it is supplemented just after harvest. However, applying this in excess may have adverse effects on the quality of production of essential oil.
When to Fertilize
It is essential to apply some fertilizer as the growing season begins to give it a good start.
Ensure that the compost is balanced and is slow-releasing, to avoid having it in excess.
You can also apply fertilizer during the spring and summer season with weekly applications of a high nitrogen formula organic fertilizer.
Types of Fertilizers
There are two types of fertilizers that you can use for your indoor rosemary plant.
These are organic and commercial fertilizers.
Most commercial fertilizers contain toxic chemicals that may be harmful to the herb. Because of this reason, many herb gardeners tend to avoid these fertilizers.
Instead, they use organic compost or well-aged herbivore manure, which includes compost from sheep, cows, horses, goats, chicken, or lamas. Rosemary plants are well supplied with their nutrient requirements by this manure.
When the soil pH is too high, your rosemary plant will not thrive. You will, therefore, need to increase its nutrients and return the pH to favorable levels for the herb.
The best time for doing this is during spring when the plant has not put on new growth. There are several ways to change the pH levels back to the right condition for the plant.
With Diluted Coffee
Diluted coffee is the best homemade solution to apply to your rosemary.
It mainly provides the herb with lower soil pH and adds balanced nutrition. The plant can then utilize the available micronutrients.
Brewed coffee is highly acidic, so you have to dilute it before pouring it into your rosemary pot. Ground coffee has the same effect, but you will need to minimize the amount you use.
A fair amount of ground coffee put into the base of the rosemary can help raise the acidity of the soil and supply the required nutrients such as nitrogen.
With Tapping Water
Tap water is often alkaline, and using it to water the herb regularly can quickly raise soil pH.
Always check your plants’ soil before watering to ensure its dryness.
With Common Manure
Rosemary requires feeding in indoor gardens, which can be achieved by applying a slow-release balanced fertilizer or a handful of compost manure.
Well-rotted manure from time to time on the surface of the soil should also do the trick. If the smell does not repulse you, then the fish emulsion is also a healthy organic supplement to give a quick nitrogen boost.
With Liquid Fertilizers
You can also use an all-purpose liquid fertilizer that is water-soluble.
The liquid fertilizer should be applied every fortnight in case the potting mixture did not contain any fertilizers.
With Organic Fertilizer
For organic rosemary, use the organic fertilizers or fortify the soil with compost.
Most fertilizers come in powdered form or in liquid form which is sprayed. It is quite evident that indoor rosemary planting requires regular and timed application of fertilizers.
When using these fertilizers, ensure that you only use the stated amount — fertilizers in the excess strip the rosemary of its oil.
It is vital to exercise caution when using commercial fertilizers.
Do not apply fertilizer directly on leaves because it causes leave burning and always water the plant after applying fertilizer.
To keep the rosemary looking great, use periodic foliar sprays with emulsion.
Common Pests And Diseases To Look Out For!
Pests bring damages to rosemary, but they only attack a plant that is already weakened from other determining factors.
Regrettably, many of the rosemary plants growing indoors are already in a weakened state, which makes them even more susceptible to pests.
The best way to deal with a pest infestation is to ensure that you have a houseplant pesticide in hand. Since the rosemary is for consumption purposes, look for organic pesticides that are harmless to humans and pets but effective against pests.
Common Pests and How to Deal With Them
These little creatures leave little wads of spit on the rosemary plants.
Although they are unsightly, they rarely cause a severe problem.
The same cannot be said in the case of a heavy infestation since they weaken the herb significantly. A forceful jet of water can wash them away.
Spittlebugs are usually found outside but can affect indoor and greenhouse rosemary too.
Aphids And Whiteflies
These affect rosemary that is mostly grown indoors.
They tend to feed on the underside of branches in groups. They can be eradicated by applying a ready-mixed spray on the insects.
Spider mites are microscopic, so you will not see them on your herbs.
However, they leave a web trail, especially on young leaves and stems.
These mites suck the juices from the grass, causing it to wilt and eventually fall off. These mites thrive in dry conditions and multiply quickly, making it difficult to control them.
A forceful miticide may, however, control the pests.
Prevention Of Diseases
Preventing pest infestation entails the whole process of growth for the plant. Growing the plant in tight spaces weakens the plant, allowing pests and diseases to take control.
This can be prevented by planting them in well-aerated spaced areas.
Common Diseases and How to Deal With Them
Whether indoors or outdoors, this herb is vulnerable to powdery mildew.
It gets even worse for indoor plants because most homes do not have the same air circulation as outside. While powdery mildew will not kill the rosemary, it weakens it significantly, making it susceptible to more dangerous diseases and pests.
One of the best practices to drive away mildew is to increase air circulation around the plant. A fan will come in handy; letting it blow the plant for a few hours each day may improve the air circulation.
This fungal infection results from too much humidity and will cause the leaves and the center of the plant to rot.
As it starts, you will notice yellowish spots on the leaves that are irregular. There may also be some water spots on the stems.
When touched, the spots will turn gray and emit a cloud of spores. To control the disease, removing the affected plants is essential. Decrease the humidity around the herb to prevent botrytis blight. You can do this by using pea gravel as mulches.
Root and Crown Rot
A fungus also causes root and crown rot. Unfortunately, once the roots are affected, the only thing you can do is get rid of the plant entirely.
The leaves will turn yellow before drying up, and the branches may turn brown and die. The fungus that causes root and crown rot does well in overly wet areas.
Growing your rosemary in a well-drained pot is, therefore, essential in the prevention of this disease. Ensure that you also replace the soil with fresh mixing pot regularly.
Factors That Lead To Weakened Rosemary Plants
As mentioned before, pests and diseases will affect rosemary plants that are already weakened.
It is, therefore, essential to pinpoint the factors that will undermine your indoor rosemary garden. The most common factors are poor watering systems and insufficient sunlight.
Poor Watering Systems
Most times, indoor rosemary gardens receive either too much or not enough water.
Before watering the herb, check that the topsoil on the plant is dry to the touch. However, never let the soil dry out completely.
You should also ensure that the container is well-drained to prevent the water from getting clogged up on the plant.
Poor or No Sunlight
Poor or no sunlight the most common reason for unhealthy indoor rosemary plants. Insufficient sunlight leaves the rosemary plant famished, making it incapable of producing enough energy to stay alive, and it eventually dies.
The initial step before bringing your rosemary plant indoors is, you have to let it get used to the less sunshine. To do this introduce the plant to a shade which will allow the plant to adapt by growing more leaves. This will ensure it has more leaves to turn light into energy.
How To Harvest Indoor Rosemary?
When harvesting rosemary, you should harvest the young leaves to get the freshest taste.
You can snip the stems of the herb to use it raw or hang the leaves in the kitchen to get dried rosemary.
If you are going to use the new stems and leaves for flavoring, you need to cut them up before adding to your food. Failure to do so will result in a woody taste. To allow the plant to replace its growth, you should harvest up to a third of the plant.
After harvesting the rosemary should also be stored well. A recommended method is to air dry the rosemary then you can store them in a cupboard using an airtight container.
Uses And Benefits Of Rosemary
Growing rosemary indoors in a container comes with several benefits.
Because it is a versatile herb, you can choose to grow it for different reasons. The most common use of rosemary is in the culinary arts. It is used to add flavor to dishes, appetizers, and salads.
It primarily works great for meat recipes. Add it to your marinating chicken and your meat steak for some extra flavor. The herb can also be used to flavor olive oil.
Rosemary also has some health benefits. It is a source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds are essential to help in boosting the immune system and improve the body blood circulation.
It helps in neutralizing harmful particles that are referred to as free radicals. The research in therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology has also revealed that rosemary can increase somebody’s concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy.
Other benefits of the herb include enhanced circulation, prevention of brain aging, protection against macular degeneration, relieving pain, and boosting the immune system, among others.
Rosemary comes with several benefits, and you don’t even need a garden to grow it.
While it may require a lot of effort, your herb can easily thrive indoors.
Follow the tips above, and you should be able to enjoy the fantastic benefits that the plant presents.