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Growing Rosemary Indoors: Plant Care & Growing Guide 

Rosemary is a popular herb many people enjoy growing at home, thanks to its natural beauty and aroma. It is also a favorite among cooks due to its unique and versatile flavor.

If you are considering growing rosemary in your indoor garden, take a look at this article where we will be discussing:

  • What is rosemary
  • How to grow rosemary indoors
  • How to maintain your indoor rosemary plants
  • Rosemary FAQs

What Exactly is Rosemary?

Rosemary is a shrub belonging to the mint family. It has needles similar to evergreen trees and an aroma described as a pinewood scent or a likeness to eucalyptus. 

Rosemary is a popular culinary herb used to add a woodsy, citrusy flavor to a variety of dishes to give them a more earthy flavor. However, that is not all this herb is known for.

It is well-known that rosemary was one of the first medicinal herbs used. Rosemary is often thought to aid mental function and memory and reduce forgetfulness. It is still used for these reasons today as well as many others, including:

  • Reducing pain associated with menstrual cramps
  • Combating nausea
  • Aiding in digestion
  • Soothing skin irritation 
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Treating cuts and sores

These are only a handful of benefits that should have you considering incorporating rosemary in your diet, as well as making you more excited about adding it to your indoor garden. 

How to Grow Rosemary Indoors

Now that you know why you should grow rosemary indoors, let’s get to the how. Unlike many other herbs, rosemary can be a little tricky to grow inside, mainly during the cold winter months. 

If you live in an area where the temperatures dip low during the cold seasons, your rosemary plant might give you a little trouble because of the lack of sunlight, amongst other things.

Nevertheless, you can grow rosemary successfully in an indoor garden as long as you follow these steps.

Step One: Choose Seeds Or Cuttings

There is always the option of starting your potted rosemary from a rosemary seed, but propagating rosemary with cuttings is much easier. 

Ask a family member or friend that has a thriving rosemary bush to give you some of their plant leaf cuttings. Alternately, you can order them from reputable online retail sellers or local nurseries.

Once you have the cuttings, remove the leaves from the first inch or so of the stem. This will give you plenty of room to place the clippings into the soil and provide enough room for them to grow. 

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Step Two: Pick Your Pot

The type of planter you use for your indoor rosemary plant is crucial to successful growth. Because rosemary is part of the mint family (and a shrub), planting rosemary alone in a single pot is ideal. These plants are known for being thick, bushy, and very rooty. The pot should be 6-12 inches in diameter and equally as tall. 

Because rosemary is a Mediterranean herb, it requires heat, humidity, and sunlight to thrive. For these reasons, a terracotta or clay pot is ideal. Terracotta and clay absorb excess water, don’t heat up too much in direct sunlight, won’t frost in cold temperatures, and are a very breathable material. 

No matter the type of pot you choose, make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to flow out easily and quickly.

Step Three: Prepare the Pot

Prepare your planter with loam soil. Loam soil simply means heavily sandy soil, composed of at least 40% sand. Having sandy soil will help tremendously with aeration and drainage, preventing your herbs from drowning or dying from a lack of oxygen. 

When adding the soil to your pot, fill it about three-quarters of the way up, leaving enough space for the plant to grow and expand and to keep water and soil from falling out. 

Step Four: Add the Rosemary Cuttings (or Seeds)

Once your pot is ready for its new resident, place your cutting about an inch deep into the soil and cover the bottom completely. 

If you are growing rosemary by seed, scatter a few seeds into the pot and scarcely cover them with soil. Do not push the seeds into the soil or cover them completely. Use a quality seed-starting soil mix and make sure the soil does not dry out. 

Keep the soil around the cuttings moist. Water daily and keep the pot in a bright, warm spot, using either direct sunlight or a grow light.

After about three weeks, gently tug at the plant. If you feel a slight resistance, you can safely assume the plant took root. 

Step Five: Maintain Your Rosemary Plant

Now that you have a viable plant, you must maintain it so it continues to grow and thrive. 

As long as you maintain your herb, it will continue to provide useful, potent, and delicious-tasting leaves for years. 

How to Maintain Your Indoor Rosemary Plants

As mentioned, rosemary can be very fickle when it comes to thriving inside, which is why maintaining the plant properly is critical.

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Plenty of Light

Rosemary requires tons of direct sunlight–at least 6-8 hours every day. On warm days, take your plants outside and let them soak up the sun. 

During the winter, you should invest in a grow light to help provide lighting that isn’t naturally available in this season.

Signs your plant isn’t getting enough sun:

  • Powdery mildew on leaves and stem
  • Saggy, weak stem and leaves
  • Discoloration of stem and leaves
  • Stunted growth

Proper Amount of Water

After the plant has reached maturity, rosemary won’t require much water and will often show ill health due to overwatering rather than underwatering. On average, you should only water your plant once a week, providing just enough to soak the soil.

During the summer, when the temps get higher, you might want to give it an extra little sip or two or spritz it down with a spray bottle. 

Again, because these are Mediterranean plants, they do not need as much water as some other varieties.

Signs your plant isn’t getting enough water:

  • Drooping plants
  • Dry leaves
  • Dry soil

Signs your plant is getting too much water:

  • Drooping plants
  • Tips of leaves turn brown
  • Mold growing on the stem

Root Rot: A huge concern that indoor plants bring is root rot. Root rot is a disease where the plant’s roots sit in a puddle of water for too long and drown. The dead roots will decay and mold, infecting the rest of the plant.

To Fertilize or Not to Fertilize

You can add fertilizer to your soil if you would like, especially during its early stages of life.

However, rosemary doesn’t require fertilizer to grow, so this can be a situation-based decision.

If you feel your rosemary plant looks like it needs a little extra nutrition or it doesn’t seem to be growing like it has been or should be, then you can add a little compost to the soil or purchase a balanced all-purpose fertilizer.

Signs of too much fertilizer:

  • Yellowing stems
  • Droopy stems
  • Excess growth (makes the plant susceptible to insect activity and disease)

Keep the Temperature Indoors Warm

Your rosemary likes a warm, humid atmosphere, so keeping the thermostat set between 68°F and 86°F is going to help keep this plant happy and thriving. Anything dipping below 68°F is going to cause health problems.

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If you are someone who likes to crank the AC during those hot summer months, you will want to put your plants outside or in a room that doesn’t get as cold. 

You can also purchase heating pads that plant pots can sit on, keeping the soil at the perfect temperature. 

Repotting Your Rosemary Plants

A happy, healthy rosemary plant will continue to grow up and out. It is typical for this indoor herb to need a bigger pot every year or two. This will help your plant continue to produce healthy leaves and give the ever-growing roots extra room to expand.

When you re-pot your plant, always go one size up and add new, healthy, moist potting soil.

Growing Rosemary Indoors FAQs 

Is Rosemary Safe Around Pets?

Yes, rosemary is safe for pets. Rosemary is not only safe for pets, it’s actually beneficial for them to eat. As mentioned, rosemary contains anti-inflammatory properties and antimicrobial benefits, aiding in good digestion and healthy immune systems and preventing serious diseases and illnesses.

Is it Hard to Grow Rosemary Plants Indoors?

Although rosemary can be difficult, it isn’t that hard to grow indoors as long as it is given plenty of light, the right amount of water, and proper nutrition and care.

How Long Does it Take to Grow Rosemary?

Once planted, rosemary will reach full maturity in its second growing season. If you see a lack of growth, consider looking into one of the issues below that may require action:

  • Root rot (dead roots due to excess water)
  • Insect activity
  • Cold environment
  • Not enough light
  • Overly acidic soil (preferred pH 6-7.5)

What Plants Grow Well With Rosemary?

Rosemary can grow rather well with many different plants. Some of the best herb companions for rosemary include:

  • Thyme
  • Chives
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram

Plants that should get different containers in your herb garden include:

  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Fennel

Summing Things Up

As you can tell, there are many benefits to growing rosemary indoors and out. The leaves on this plant provide a delectable added flavor to culinary dishes. It adds a natural aroma to your space and provides health benefits to both you and your pet. 

As long as you take steps to ensure your plant is getting the proper nutrition and attention, you will have a beautiful shrub that will provide natural decor to your home for quite some time. Plus, you’ll always have a fresh herb on hand.