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How to take rosemary cuttings

You will need

  • Rosemary plant (established)
  • Sharp knife or scissors
  • Hormone rooting powder
  • Terracotta pots for rooting in and potting on
  • Compost mix of equal parts potting compost and horticultural grit or perlite/vermiculite
  • John Innes No. 2 compost for potting on
Do it: May - August
Takes just: 30 minutes


With fresh new shoots emerging on your rosemary plant, now is the perfect time to take cuttings and boost your plant numbers. Early in the day, snip off shoots without flowers and pop them in a plastic bag. Seal it and keep it in a shady spot to prevent wilting until you are ready to root the cuttings.

How to do it


Snip off shoots of new growth 10cm - 15cm long. To reduce moisture loss, remove most of the lower leaves so you have a clean length of stem.


Use a sharp knife to cut off the base of the stem just below a leaf node - the point from which the leaves grow.


Dip the stem ends in hormone rooting powder to speed up the rooting process.


Fill pots with a gritty compost mix. Insert several rosemary cuttings around the edge, or plant individually in seed tray modules.


Water in cuttings from above to settle compost around their stems. Place pots in a cold frame in a sheltered, shaded area, indoors in a propagator or simply cover with a plastic bag to retain the moisure.


After a few weeks, gently invert pots and check for signs of root development. Mist over foliage and ensure the compost stays moist.


Once they have a good root system, tease cuttings apart and pot up individually into a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No. 2.


Keep plants watered and pot them on again as they get larger and the roots fill their container. They should be big enough to plant out in the following spring.

Our tip

Cutting compost contains few nutrients, so feed the rosemary plants with a dilute solution of fertiliser as soon as roots have formed.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to take rosemary cuttings
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kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:27

Rosemary has a great smell and lots of uses, such as in cooking but lovely in the bath and rincing your hair, another great herb is Lemon Balm an infussion for drinking or the final rince on your hair works wonders on the shine.

hellotoots 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Thats a great idea - would you brew the rosemary/lemon balm and use that water for the rinse?

greenfingersue 24/11/2011 at 15:28

My 20 year old rosemary bush is dying, so I took 9 cuttings, treated them as described above and 6 have taken. The rooting powder says that it should not be used on edible crops, but I do not plan to use any leaves in cooking for a few years, does this sound OK?

mary smith 14/02/2012 at 16:32

my rosemary bush has a large branch which has been broken off by the weight of snow is there any way i can save it i know its the wrong time of year but it is going to die off if i dont try anything, it is still very green at the moment

Emma Crawforth 15/02/2012 at 15:16

Hello Mary,

It's early to try cuttings at this time of year but if you have some spare compost and pots, you could try heel cuttings to see if you have any success. You pull a new shoot away from the main stem, so that you retain some bark from the main stem on it. Trim off the bottom to make a neat 'heel'. Also remove some of the lower leaves. Plant the heel end in free-draining compost. Water, then cover the whole lot in a transparent plastic bag to stop the top leaves loosing too much moisture. Place it somewhere warm and light, but not sunny. I'm not going to promise you success at this time of year but it won't take you long to do if you already have the materials.

If you don't get any roots this time you can try the process again in spring. That way you can save the remains of your plant and start again with a fresh one later on.

Emma team

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