How Much Sun Does Rosemary Need? [Full Guide]

So you’re thinking about growing rosemary? Rosemary is a great herb to grow inside your home or outside in your garden. It has many uses and it’s nice to look at. But, as with any plant, rosemary has it’s own requirements for care. So, where do you start?

One of the most important things where rosemary is concerned is how much sun it’s getting. How much sun do rosemary plants need?

Short answer: These plants love lots of sun.

So, what do you do if you live in a region that’s cloudy or gets lots of rain? Just keep your plant inside! One thing is for sure, rosemary loves its sun.

Below, I cover how much sun does rosemary need to grow, whether rosemary will grow in shade or during winter, what you need to consider when growing rosemary in a pot and other things you need to know when growing rosemary.

Why Grow Rosemary?

Rosemary is a great herb to grow for many reasons. Most people have probably heard of rosemary because it’s a popular herb used in a lot of dishes. Most people that like to cook with rosemary prefer using fresh herbs. Most people also know that buying fresh herbs from the grocery store can get quite expensive.

If you grow rosemary in your home or in your garden, you never have to worry about the cost again. Simply care for your new rosemary plant and it will provide you with fresh herbs for years to come.

Besides cooking, what else is rosemary good for?

Many people also find that the herb is good for treating minor ailments. It’s a sweet-smelling plant that has been shown to relieve anxiety, improve memory, help with indigestion, and minor joint pain. Many people use rosemary to help their ailments by eating it, burning it as incense, or using it in essential oils.

Besides its uses in cooking and medicine, rosemary is simply nice to look at.

Rosemary is a shrub that can grow quite tall and wide, depending which kind of rosemary you choose. It has rich green leaves that stick around throughout the year. Beautiful flowers will even bloom on the shrubs in the spring and summer months. Rosemary is used in a lot of gardens as a hedge shrub, creating a nice aesthetic in people’s yards.

how much sun for rosemary
Rosemary

Does Rosemary Like Full Sun?

Full sun is essential for rosemary to grow to its full potential. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean regions where the climate is sunny, warm, and dry. Without lots of sun, rosemary plants cannot thrive.

How Much Sun Does A Rosemary Plant Need?

Rosemary plants should be kept in full sun for at least 6-8 hours a day. If the plants are kept in a pot, it’s possible for them to get too much sun. After 6-8 hours, you should pull the pot into the shade so the plant doesn’t become dried out. However, if the plant is growing in the ground, this isn’t an issue.

It’s suggested to grow your rosemary plant on the east side of the house since that’s where the sun rises. This will ensure that your plant is getting lots of sun throughout the duration of the day.

Does Rosemary Grow In Shade?

We know that rosemary prefers full sun, but can rosemary grow in shade?

Unfortunately, rosemary doesn’t do well in shade. It can tolerate a bit of shade throughout the day, but it really needs to have 6-8 hours of direct sunlight to do well.

Technically, rosemary might survive under extended periods of shade, but it certainly won’t thrive. If the plant doesn’t die, you may notice stunted growth and wilting leaves.

What Are The Rosemary Sun Requirements When Growing In A Pot?

When growing in a pot, the sun requirements for rosemary are the same as when grown outside. They still need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day to be healthy. The best way to do this is to place your plant right next to a window where it can get lots of sun.

If you are unable to place your plant by the window, or the window isn’t enough, there are other options. There are “grow” lights made specifically for plants that can help your rosemary plant thrive. If it’s suffering indoors from lack of light, try out a grow light and your plant should perk up.

Can Rosemary Grow During Winter?

Whether or not rosemary will grow during the winter depends on where you live. Rosemary is native to Mediterranean regions where the climate is warm and dry. If it is grown in gardens with a similar climate, it will continue to grow throughout the winter. The only difference is that rosemary will grow more slowly over the winter than it will during the spring and summer months.

Likewise, if you bring your rosemary plant indoors over the winter, it will continue to grow slowly.

If you live in a colder climate, like USDA hardiness zones 8 or 9, your rosemary shrub is more likely to go dormant. As long as you keep your plant protected during the cold winter months, it will do okay until spring, it just won’t grow.

Click here to read more about how rosemary survives winter.

What Soil Conditions Does Rosemary Need?

Rosemary flourishes in warmer, dryer climates, and that includes the soil. Rosemary doesn’t do well with too much water, so overwatering it can kill the plant or cause root rot. To prevent this, rosemary plants should be planted in well-draining soil. The best kinds of soils for this are sand-like soils.

They can also survive in pH’s of wide ranges, around 5-8. However, they do best in soils with a pH of 6-7.5. This is because rosemary thrives in soil that is slightly acidic.

How To Look After Your Rosemary Plant

Sun is the most important factor in keeping your rosemary plant healthy. Still, there are other things you can do to keep your rosemary shrub growing to the best of its ability.

When To Plant

If you’re planning on growing a new rosemary shrub, you’re going to want to know the best time to grow it. No matter what stage your plant is at — seed, cutting, juvenile, or adult — the best time to plant your rosemary is during the spring.

Spring is always the best time to plant your rosemary shrub because it’s when they’re naturally most healthy. The spring and summer is when rosemary is going to do most of its growing. It’s during this period that you’re going to notice a lot of new growth and blooming flowers.

It makes sense then, if rosemary grows the most in spring and summer, that it should be planted during this time too.

Spacing & Depth

If you plan on growing more than one rosemary shrub, you’ll want to know how far apart to space them. Rosemary plants can grow to be quite large depending which type of rosemary plant you choose. Some can grow 6-8 feet tall and wide, taking up a considerable amount of space in your garden.

So, if you plan to plant more than one shrub, make sure to plant them at least 2-3 feet apart. This will give the roots of every plant plenty of space to spread out and grow. It will also prevent your plants from competing with each other.

When it comes to depth, seedlings and juveniles should be planted at the same depth that they were in the container. If you’re starting with plain seeds, only plant them 1/4 inch deep in the soil.

Fortunately for rosemary, it’s a pretty hardy and sturdy plant. It doesn’t usually need any kind of support structure to help it grow. Still, some people like to plant their taller rosemary plants near a wall so that the wall offers some support. This is completely fine as long as you ensure that the wall doesn’t block any light from the sun.

Water

Rosemary is not crazy about water and does better with little water. Of course, it does need water to stay healthy and grow, but less is more. If you overwater your rosemary shrub, you can drown the plant or cause root rot.

If you’re growing your rosemary indoors, you should wait until the soil has completely dried before trying to water again. Watering while the soil is still damp will cause overwatering.

If the plant is growing outdoors, you can water while the soil is still damp. Still, don’t go overboard. “Damp” does not mean “soaked”.

Temperature & Humidity

Because rosemary is native to Mediterranean climates, it likes warmer weather with moderate humidity levels. It thrives best in air temperatures of 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Soil temperatures are best above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity should stay moderate. Just like with too much water, too much humidity can cause root rot.

Final Words

Rosemary is a herb native to the Mediterranean regions of southern Europe and parts of Asia. Because of this, it’s used to climates that are warm and dry. Rosemary needs lots of full sun to really grow to its full potential. Unfortunately, it won’t do well in shade.

But don’t worry. If you live in an area where there isn’t much sun, you can still grow rosemary, you just need to get a little creative. Although it might be a bit inconvenient due to its size, rosemary grows really well indoors.

Indoors is an ideal climate for rosemary plants because most people keep their houses nice and warm. Since sun is an issue, you’ll simply need to purchase a grow light to focus on your rosemary plant.

Sun is probably the single most important factor in growing a strong, healthy rosemary plant. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to provide lots of sun regardless of the area you live. Simply provide your plant with 6-8 hours of sun or artificial light every day and it will be healthy for years to come.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn more about where to plant rosemary or here for when to plant. You can also find all our guides to growing rosemary here.