Rosemary plant

How to grow rosemary

Learn how to plant, care for, harvest and store rosemary, in our easy-to-use Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do Harvest in January

Do Harvest in February

Do Harvest in March

Do Harvest in April

Do Harvest in May

Do Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do Harvest in October

Do Harvest in November

Do Harvest in December

  • Average Yield

    Pick leaves as required

An evergreen herb that looks lovely all year round, rosemary smells wonderful, has a great taste, and when it flowers in late spring bees love it, too. Grow one alongside a path, so every time you brush past the leaves release their aromatic oils. What more could you ask?

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Although rosemary is frost-hardy, the combination of cold and waterlogging can kill immature plants.

Growing rosemary through the year

planting-rosemary-2
Planting rosemary

How to plant rosemary

Rosemary seeds can take an age to germinate, so buy young plants, which are widely available, or wait until after flowering and take cuttings.

Plant in spring or autumn. Although rosemary is frost-hardy, the combination of cold and waterlogging can kill immature plants. With this in mind, choose a well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered spot. If you have a cold clay soil, dig in lots of bark, grit or leaf mould to improve drainage.

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Growing rosemary in pots

Care

Rosemary requires little maintenance during the year except cutting back after flowering to prevent plants becoming straggly and excessively woody. Save the trimmings to propagate new plants or to dry for cooking.

Rosemary does well in containers in a soil-based compost with plenty of broken crocks in the bottom for good drainage. Keep well watered during dry spells and feed with a general fertiliser during the growing season. In cold winters, bring plants under cover for protection.

harvesting-rosemary-leaves-2
Harvesting rosemary needles

Harvesting rosemary

Gently pull small sprigs away from the main stem. Unless you’re using them to flavour gravy or perk up a roast, strip the leaves off the inedible woody stems.

Storing rosemary

As rosemary is an evergreen, it’s available fresh all year. It dries well (on a baking tray in the airing cupboard) but doesn’t freeze.

rosemary-leaves-infusing-oil-2
Infusing rosemary in oil

Preparation and uses of rosemary

Pop a few sprigs of rosemary in with your roast potatoes and meat, it goes especially well with lamb, or in casseroles, tomato sauces, baked fish or egg dishes.

Add it to vinegars or oils for extra flavour. Take care when using fresh rosemary in your cooking, it’s a pungent herb that will overpower delicate flavours.

rosemary-beetle-2
Rosemary beetle

Rosemary: problem-solving

A native of southern Europe, the rosemary beetle (below) and its larvae can quickly strip the foliage of a rosemary bush. These small metallic-green and purple-striped beetles can be found on the underside of leaves during early autumn to spring. Spread newspaper under an affected plant and tap the branches to dislodge pests. Wait until after flowering to apply an insecticide to avoid harming bees.

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Plant a rosemary hedge

One of the best rosemary varieties for a hedge is ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’. Space the plants about 45cm apart. To promote bushy growth, cut back after flowering in early summer. Aim to keep the hedge around 60cm tall.

Gardening gloves. Photo: Getty Images.
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Rosemary flowers

Rosemary varieties to grow

  • ‘Benenden Blue’ – dark blue flowers and fine needles
  • ‘Lady in White’ – its upright habit makes it useful as hedging
  • ‘Majorca Pink’ – small pale pink flowers and upright habit
  • ‘McConnell’s Blue’ – blue flowers, grows well in pots
  • ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’ – blue flowers and upright stems
  • Prostratus Group – pale blue flowers, arching, prostrate stems
  • ‘Severn Sea’ – highly aromatic with medium-blue flowers
  • ‘Sudbury Blue’ – highly scented foliage and blue flowers