How to care for Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

What to look for across the season

Spring

Spot fresh new growth starting as the weather warms up, followed by flowers that the bees and other pollinators just love.

Start picking leaves. The more leaves you pick; the more that will grow. Rosemary is just like that.

Summer

Keep on picking leaves as you need them to use fresh in the kitchen. Remember: the more you pick, the more that will grow.

Rosemary dries well if you want to pick some and use later.

Autumn

As long as your Rosemary keeps producing leaves, keep on picking.

As the weather cools in autumn you'll see growth slowing down. This is normal as your plant starts preparing for winter.

Winter

Rosemary is an evergreen herb, so it will hold onto most of its leaves over winter.

But it won't be growing much and it's best not to chop off too many leaves to use in the kitchen as this will use up the plant's reserves.

What The Plant Needs

Watering

Keep Rosemary in pots well-watered over summer.

If you've got a plant in the ground, you can afford to be a bit more negligent, only watering if it gets really dry and hot.

Feeding

If your Rosemary is in the ground there's really no need to feed it. After a few years if it's starting to suffer, give it a feed of Growmore in spring.

Give plants in pots a feed with a slow release fertiliser in spring and late summer. This will give your plant a little boost to keep you in stock with fresh leaves throughout the growing season.

Pruning

Cut plants back by about one third after flowering to prevent plants getting too woody and straggly.

Avoid cutting into the non-productive wood at the base. It won't come back if you do that.

And don't compost your prunings, hang them upside down in a cold shed or garage (or spare room) and dry the leaves to use in cooking.

Protection

One thing Rosemary hates is cold and wet roots in winter, and this is a combination that can kill plants. So, when planting Rosemary choose a spot that is well-drained and as sunny as possible.

If your garden is shady and/or your soil gets waterlogged in winter, then your best bet is to grow plants in a pot. You can then move pots to a more sheltered spot in winter.

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