How Fast Do Rosemary Plants Grow? [Full Guide To A Healthy Plant]

Rosemary is one of the most popular herbs grown in gardens. Salvia rosmarinus is the herb’s official name, and it is part of the mint family.

These plants are naturally found in southern Europe and North Africa. It grows along coastal regions with lots of hills.

Besides its usage in medicine and cooking, many people simply love the look of it. Rosemary is a perennial plant, meaning that it continues to grow throughout the year. Not only that, but it is also an evergreen plant, so it keeps its foliage year round.

Its foliage are needle-like leaves that are soft and dark green in coloration. Some rosemary plants will produce clusters of flowers with 5-10 flowers growing from the stem.

Its lovely appearance coupled with is many uses makes rosemary a popular plant to be grown in gardens. But how easy is it to grow?

Is Rosemary Easy To Grow?

Fortunately, growing rosemary plants is very easy. Growing them from seeds is simple, and growing from cuttings is even easier if you have them available. Seeds are not much more difficult than planting with cuttings, it simply takes more time and patience.

how fast does rosemary grow
Rosemary

How Big Does Rosemary Grow?

When most people think of herbs, they imagine the small plants that you can grow in your kitchen. You know the ones — the ones where you simply set up a small container to grow your greens in. Unfortunately, or fortunately — depending on what you’re looking for — rosemary will grow to be quite large. Even the smallest rosemary plants are likely to be too big to grow in your kitchen.

There are several different kinds of rosemary plants, and some will grow larger than others. Rosemary plants are divided into two different groups: those that grow tall and upright and those that are classified as creeping ground cover.

The rosemary plants that grow tall and upright will grow much larger overall. Not only can they grow 4-8 feet in height, but they can also grow 4-8 feet in width.

On the other hand, creeping ground cover will only grow about 1-2 feet in height. Despite their short height, they can grow to 4-8 feet in length.

Of course, exactly how big a rosemary plant grows depends on which type of plant it is. There are several types of rosemary and they all grow uniquely.

Read my full guide to how big rosemary grows here.

How Long Does It Take To Grow Rosemary?

Rosemary is a very slow-growing plant and it will take years to reach its full height and width. Still, despite growing so slowly, some plants can grow up to 8 feet high and 8 feet wide. This can sometimes take up to 10 years.

There isn’t much to describe about the life stages of rosemary. What we do know is that rosemary can be grown as either an annual or perennial plant. If it’s grown as an annual, it will complete its life cycle in one year.

As a perennial, it will take several years for the plant to reach its adult stage. However, the plant will continue growing after that.

You will begin to see flowers blooming at about 2 years of age.

How Long Do Rosemary Seeds Take To Germinate?

We’ll go into more depth about seeds and their growth later. However, it generally takes rosemary seeds about 2-3 weeks to germinate.

How Long Does Rosemary Take To Grow From Seed?

Starting your rosemary plants from scratch can prove to be quite difficult. It’s likely that only about 30% of your seeds will sprout, so you should plan to plant more seeds than you actually need.

To plant seeds, you’ll need high-quality seed-starting soil and a small pot or tray. The seeds shouldn’t be placed more than 1/4 inch deep into the soil. For germination, the seeds should be kept at a consistent temperature of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds should then be placed under a light or next to a window where they’ll receive lots of light.

Germination will usually occur within 2-3 weeks, but can take up to 3 months. After this time, you’ll begin to see sprouts appear.

How Long Does It Take Rosemary To Grow From Cuttings?

If you’ve never planted anything before, it’ll be easier to begin with cuttings rather than seeds. The best way to propagate rosemary is by using softwood cuttings when planting in the spring. If you plan to plant in Autumn, it’ll be easier to use semi-ripe cuttings.

To grow a rosemary plant from a cutting, you’ll simply cut a piece from the plant. This is similar to what you would do when cutting a piece to use in your cooking.

Before taking a cutting from your plant, make sure it’s well watered and there is lots of new growth occurring. Avoid taking cuttings from stems with flowers because they’re hard to propagate.

Instead, pick healthy stems with lots of new growth and cut about 4-6 inches from the tip of the stem. Make sure that your pruning shears are well-sharpened so that you can make a smooth cut. Having to cut into the stem multiple times due to a dull shear will destroy plant tissue. If the plant has destroyed tissue, you will be less likely to have success.

Make sure the lower 1-2 inches of the stem are clear. If you need to, you can remove any leaves from this area.

Next, place the plant with its stem in high quality potting mix and it will begin to take root. You’ll want to use a 4 inch pot for this. To speed up the process, some people use rooting hormone.

3-4 cuttings can be placed in each 4-ich pot, and they should be placed about 1 inch deep into the soil. Unlike with seeds, you’ll want to place the cuttings in a shady area to prevent them from drying out.

So, what time frame can you expect from your cuttings?

If you use root hormone, the cuttings will begin to develop roots and new growth in about 2-3 weeks. If you don’t use root hormone, this can take up to 8 weeks.

Planting rosemary
Planting rosemary

Tips To Help Rosemary Grow As Fast As Possible

It’s not hard to grow rosemary to its full potential. You simply need to know what things rosemary needs to stay healthy and recreate that environment for them. Here are some things you can do to grow your plants healthy and strong.

When & Where To Plant

When looking to plant rosemary, its best to plant in spring after the last frost. Rosemary seedlings are not very cold tolerant and cannot survive frost. If you’re unsure if it’s going to frost again in your area, it’s safer to just wait a bit.

Likewise, you can also plant rosemary as late as Autumn. However, you’ll want to do so a few weeks before the first Autumn frost.

Rosemary plants become more cold tolerant as they age and can eventually survive colder temperatures. However, if you’re starting out with seeds or cuttings, frost is not your friend.

Read my full guide to planting rosemary here.

Temperature & Sun

Rosemary plants need lots of sun. Make sure that there are no other plants around to overshadow it. Your plants will need at least 6-8 hours of full sunlight in USDA hardiness zones of 7 and above.

The temperatures range that rosemary grows best in is between 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Many adult rosemary plants can survive in cold temperatures and can be left to winter over outside. However, young plants are particularly vulnerable to colder temperatures.

Extreme temperature changes and overly wet soil will easily kill off younger plants. If you have any doubts about planting your rosemary outside, it’s better to begin inside where you can better control the conditions.

Click here to read our full guide to how much sun rosemary needs.

Humidity & Water

Rosemary plants are used to dry soil conditions, so they don’t need a lot of water to survive. In fact, rosemary is particularly drought-hardy and can survive short periods with no water.

In fact, it’s better to underwater your plant than it is to overwater it. A rosemary plant sitting in overly wet soil can drown. It can also develop rotting of the roots and fungal diseases.

Usually, it’s best to allow the soil to dry almost completely before watering your rosemary plant.

Soil

In nature, rosemary is used to dry, arid conditions. For this reason, it’s going to do better in well-draining soil which is moderately fertile. Sandy soil that dries well is the best option for your rosemary plants.

They do tolerate a wide range of pH’s, so that’s a plus. pH can range from 5-8, but it grows best in a pH of 6-7.5.

When To Harvest Rosemary

Many people harvest their rosemary plants because the leaves are great for cooking and medicinal usages. Be careful not to harvest the leaves too early, though. You’ll want to wait until the plant is at least 12-15 months old.

The leaves can be harvested at any time of year. Still, the leaves will grow most during the spring and summer, so this is the ideal time to harvest.

When you do harvest, it’s best to do it in the morning after the dew has evaporated. This will prevent the leaves from becoming too dry.

It’s recommended to take cuttings on a regular cycle. Many plant keepers do it once a month. This helps your plant to stay healthy and produce new growth.

man harvesting rosemary
Harvesting rosemary

How To Harvest Rosemary

Always harvest the greenest part of the plant — this is the part of the plant that tastes the best.

Avoid harvesting too much on a younger plant. Removing too many of the leaves from a young plant will make it harder for them to grow back for next season. Look for branches that are at least 8 inches long.

Never trim more than 1/3 of the stem at one time or you may hinder its ability to regrow. Taking only about 2-3 inches of the stem is sufficient. Let each stem grow back to 8 inches before harvesting again.

Should You Prune Rosemary Bushes?

It is a great idea to prune your rosemary bushes. It will help them to stay healthy and will promote better growth for the next season. Besides encouraging new growth, pruning will simply help your plant look nicer by maintaining size and shape.

It’s best to prune your rosemary plants in late spring or early Autumn once the flowers have begun to die. This only needs done about once a season.

When pruning, take care to only cut back a few inches. You don’t want to cut back too far or it will actually make it harder for your plant to regrow. Avoid cutting back into old wood.

Not pruning your plants can make them unhealthy. If you don’t prune them, they will accumulate deadwood which will make it more difficult for them to produce new growth.

Rosemary plants will become bushier and accumulate more wood the more it grows. Too much of this will decrease your plant’s access to sunlight and air circulation.

Besides encouraging growth and keeping your plant healthy, pruning is even useful in propagation. Rather than discarding the clippings, you can keep them to grow new rosemary plants.

How Long Does Rosemary Last?

If it is taken care of properly, rosemary can live to 10 years old or more. Some plant owners have reported their rosemary plants living up to 15-20 years.

To get your plant to live this long, you’ll want plenty of warm, dry air, well-drained soil, and plenty of sun. If you need more guidance on how to take care of your rosemary plant, check out our suggestions above.

Final Words

Rosemary is a slow-growing plant that can take years to reach it full height and width. Still, it grows to be a large plant, and it can be used for over 10 years when planted in the right conditions.

You can choose to buy your plant already as an adult, or choose to grow it from seeds or cuttings. Either way, growing and taking care of these plants is quite easy, you just need to provide it with its ideal conditions.

Yes, these are slow-growing plants. But, if you take care of them — providing ideal conditions, harvesting, and pruning — you’ll have a large, healthy plant for years to come.

Want to learn more? Click here to find all my guides to growing rosemary. You can also read my full guide to how big rosemary gets here or click here to learn how to grow rosemary from a cutting.