Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb with a unique fragrance that adds a distinct flavor to dishes. While it’s often grown outdoors in warm, sunny climates, it’s also possible to grow rosemary plants indoors.
Indoor gardening has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. Growing rosemary plants provide fresh cooking herbs, adds greenery to your home, and have various health benefits.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the process of growing rosemary indoors, from selecting the right plant to harvesting and using the herb.
Why you should Grow Rosemary Indoors?
There are several reasons to grow rosemary indoors.
One of the primary benefits of growing rosemary indoors is convenience. With an indoor herb garden, you always have easy access to fresh herbs and will not have to run to the store to buy rosemary or worry about it spoiling before you can use it all.
Growing rosemary indoors also allows you to control the growing conditions, which is especially useful if you live in a region with harsh weather conditions. In general, indoor plants are protected from extreme temperatures, wind, and pests that can damage outdoor plants.
Additionally, indoor plants are a great way to improve air quality in your home. Plants growing indoors absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to purify the air.
Benefits of Growing Rosemary Plants Indoors
Rosemary has various health benefits that make it an excellent addition to your indoor garden. Some of the benefits of growing rosemary plants indoors include the following:
- Improved Digestion: Rosemary is known to aid digestion by stimulating bile production, which helps break down fats in the body. Drinking rosemary tea or using the herb in cooking can help to soothe upset stomachs and reduce bloating.
- Reduced Stress: The fragrance of rosemary has been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system. Simply inhaling fresh rosemary’s aroma can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.
- Enhanced Memory: Rosemary has been used for centuries as a natural memory enhancer. The herb contains compounds that help to improve cognitive function and enhance memory.
- Antioxidant Properties: Rosemary contains antioxidants that help to protect the body against damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases.
Choosing the Right Rosemary Plant
Before you start to grow rosemary indoors, you need to select the right plant.
There are several types of rosemary plants to choose from, each with its own characteristics.
Types of Rosemary Plants
Tuscan Blue Rosemary: A popular rosemary variety with an attractive blue-green hue and a tall growth pattern, Tuscan Blue is well-suited for indoor growing due to its tolerance for cooler temperatures.
Blue Boy Rosemary: An ideal choice for home gardening due to its small size and ease of care, Blue Boy is a dwarf rosemary type with flavorful leaves.
Barbecue Rosemary: Barbecue is a robust rosemary variety with a spicy flavor and aroma that chefs love—it’s great for indoor greening because of its hardiness.
Miss Jessup’s Upright Rosemary: Miss Jessup’s Upright is renowned for its vertical habit, intense flavor and aroma, and hardiness which makes it desirable for indoor growing.
Characteristics to Look for When Selecting a Rosemary Plant
There are several characteristics to look for when selecting a potted rosemary plant. Look for a plant that:
- Is healthy and disease-free: Check for any signs of disease or pests on the plant. Healthy plants have vibrant green leaves and stem.
- Has a compact growth habit: Choose a plant with a compact growth habit, as it will be easier to manage indoors.
- Has a strong aroma: The fragrance of rosemary is a good indicator of its flavor. Choose a plant with a strong, pleasant aroma.
Preparing for Planting
Preparing for planting is a crucial step in growing healthy and thriving plants. When it comes to growing potted rosemary plants indoors, proper preparation can make all the difference in the success of your potted rosemary plant.
In this section, we’ll discuss the steps you need to follow to prepare for planting your rosemary plant indoors.
Selecting a Pot or Container
The first step in preparing for planting your rosemary plant is to select a pot or container.
When choosing a pot or container to grow rosemary indoors, consider the size and growth habits of the rosemary plant. Rosemary plants can grow up to 3-4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide, so a pot, peat pot or container that is at least 8-10 inches deep and 12-14 inches wide is ideal.
A pot or container that is too small can stunt the plant’s growth and cause it to become root-bound.
It should also be made of a material suitable for indoor gardening, such as plastic or ceramic or terra cotta pot.
Choosing the Right Soil Mix
The soil you use to plant your rosemary plant is important as rosemary plants prefer well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients.
You can use a commercial potting mix or create your own by mixing equal parts of sand, peat moss, and perlite. Avoid using heavy garden soil or soil that doesn’t drain well, as this can lead to root rot.
If you use a commercial potting mix, choose one specifically designed for herbs or vegetables. These mixes usually contain the right balance of nutrients and drainage that rosemary plants need to thrive.
If you are creating your own potting soil mix, make sure to mix the ingredients thoroughly to ensure they are well-blended.
Preparing the Planting Site
Once you’ve selected the pot or container and soil mix, it’s time to prepare the planting site.
Fill the pot or container with soil, leaving about 1-2 inches of space at the top. Use your hands or a trowel to create a small indentation in the center of the soil.
Remove the rosemary plant from its container and gently loosen the roots. You may need to tap the sides of the container or use a knife to carefully loosen the soil and plant roots. Be gentle to avoid damaging the roots or breaking the stem.
Place the plant in the center of the pot or container, making sure the top of the soil is level with the top of the root ball. Use your hands to gently press the soil around the plant to secure it in place. Water the plant thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain away.
Choosing the Right Location
Rosemary thrives in the sun. Choose a location that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. A south or west-facing window is ideal for rosemary plants.
If you don’t have a sunny location, you can use grow lights to provide the necessary light. Place the grow lights about 6-8 inches above the plant and leave them on for 12-14 hours per day.
In addition to direct sunlight, rosemary plants prefer warm temperatures. Keep the plant in a room that is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid placing the plant near drafts or cold windows, as this can damage the plant.
Rosemary Plant Care
Watering and Fertilizing
Watering and fertilizing your potted rosemary plant is essential to its growth and health. Rosemary prefers moderate watering. Water rosemary when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch, being careful not to overwater. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases.
Fertilize the plant every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. You can use a liquid fertilizer or slow-release granular fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the best results.
Pruning and Shaping
Regular pruning is a healthy rosemary plant. Prune the plant regularly to promote bushy growth and prevent it from becoming too leggy. You can also shape your potted rosemary plant by trimming it into a specific shape or size.
Use sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts and avoid damaging the plant. When pruning, remove any dead or diseased branches first, then prune back about 1/3 of the plant. Make sure to prune the plant before it blooms for the best flavor.
How to Propagate Rosemary?
Propagating rosemary is an easy and cost-effective way to grow more plants from your existing ones. You can propagate rosemary using stem cuttings taken from the parent plant and grown into new plants. Here are the steps to follow to propagate rosemary:
- Choose a healthy parent plant: Select a healthy rosemary plant to take cuttings from. Look for a plant that is disease-free and has strong, green stems.
- Take stem cuttings: Using sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears, cut a stem from the parent plant that is around 4-6 inches long. Cut just below a leaf node, where a leaf joins the stem. Strip off the leaves from the lower half of the stem, leaving a few leaves on the top.
- Prepare the cuttings: Dip the cut end of the stem into rooting hormone powder to encourage root growth. Shake off any excess powder and plant the stem into a pot filled with well-draining potting soil.
- Water the cuttings: Water the pot thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain away. Keep the soil evenly moist but not too wet, as overly wet soil can cause the cuttings to rot.
- Provide the right conditions: Place the pot in a warm, bright location that receives indirect sunlight. Cover the pot with a plastic bag to create a humid environment that will help the cuttings to root.
- Monitor the cuttings: Check the cuttings regularly for signs of growth. Once roots have formed and new growth appears, the cuttings can be transplanted into individual pots or outdoors.
By following these simple steps, you can propagate your own rosemary plants and enjoy their fresh flavor and fragrance in your cooking.
Managing Pests and Diseases
Indoor rosemary plants are less susceptible to pests and diseases than outdoor plants but can still be affected. It’s important to keep an eye out for common issues and take quick action to prevent them from spreading.
Identifying Pests and Diseases
Some common pests and diseases that can affect rosemary plants include spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, powdery mildew, and root rot.
Spider mites are tiny red or black spider-like insects that can be seen on the underside of leaves. They may leave webs on the plant and cause yellowing or browning of the leaves. To control spider mites, use a solution of neem oil and water or regular misting with water to increase humidity levels. You can also use insecticidal soap or spray the plant with a mixture of neem oil and water.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can be green, yellow, or black. They often cluster on new growth and suck sap from the plant, causing wilting and yellowing of the leaves. To control aphids, use insecticidal soap or spray the plant with a combination of neem oil and water. You can also introduce natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings to the environment to control aphid populations.
Mealybugs are white, cottony insects that can be found on the stems and leaves of the plant. They excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which attracts ants and can lead to mold growth on the plant. To get rid of mealybugs, spray the plant with rubbing alcohol and water or apply a mixture of neem oil and water. You can also introduce natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings to control mealybug populations.
Powdery mildew is a white or gray powdery coating on the leaves of the plant. It can cause the leaves to curl and become yellow or brown. To manage powdery mildew, improve air circulation around the plant and use a fungicidal spray.
Root rot is a fungal disease that causes the roots of the plant to rot, leading to wilting and yellowing of the leaves. To prevent root rot, ensure the soil is well-draining and avoid overwatering the plant. If root rot has already set in, it may be necessary to repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
Preventing Pests and Diseases
To prevent pests and diseases, make sure the plant has good air circulation by positioning it in a well-ventilated area. Water only when necessary to avoid root rot, and select a soil mixture that drains well and use a pot or container with drainage holes. Additionally, inspect the plant regularly to detect any signs of pests or diseases and act quickly if you spot any issues.
To ensure your indoor rosemary plants remain healthy and free from pests and diseases, take preventive measures:
- make sure the plant has good air circulation by positioning it in a well-ventilated area
- water only when necessary to avoid root rot
- select a soil mixture that drains well and use a pot or container with drainage holes.
- Additionally, inspect the plant regularly to detect any signs of pests or diseases and act quickly if you spot any issues.
Harvesting and Using Your Rosemary
Once your rosemary plant is established and growing well, it’s time to start harvesting and using the herb. Here are some tips for harvesting and using rosemary:
When to Harvest Your Rosemary
Harvesting your rosemary plant is easy, but you need to do it at the right time. If your plant has new tips and branches with flexible green stems emerging from existing branches, then it’s the right time to pick rosemary.
You can begin to harvest your rosemary plant when it is around three to six months old, but wait until the plant is at least one year old before harvesting more than a few sprigs at a time.
Only harvest 1/4 of a rosemary bush at one time, leaving at least 3/4 of it to ensure the plant will continue growing and produce new sprigs. Harvesting your rosemary plant too early in the growing season can stunt its growth and damage its overall health.
How to Harvest My Rosemary?
When it comes to harvesting your rosemary plant, you can either pinch off individual leaves or cut entire stems.
For a more gentle approach, simply use your fingers to pluck off the desired number of leaves close to the stem. If you opt for larger yields, look for branches that are at least 8 inches long and snip off around 2 inches from the tip with scissors or shears while leaving some green leaves on each branch. This will promote new growth and keep your plant healthy.
Helpful tip: Make sure to rotate which sections of your rosemary plant you harvest from in order to prevent over-harvesting in any one spot!
Storing Your Rosemary
Growing and storing rosemary can provide you with a valuable, fragrant herb for your cooking. To get the most out of your plants, it’s important to store them correctly.
Here are some tips for how to store rosemary indoors:
- Hang bundles of fresh rosemary to dry and store the dried leaves in airtight containers or jars in cupboards or pantries. Use twine or rubber bands to hold the bundles together and keep them away from sunlight. Dried rosemary will last a long time but has the best flavor within a year.
- Store fresh rosemary in airtight containers or bags in the fridge or freezer after washing and air drying on a clean towel /paper towel. Strip off the leaves and place them into a Ziploc bag or Tupperware before storing them in the fridge or freezer. Rosemary stored in the freezer will last longer than in the fridge but with less flavor. Use rosemary you keep in the fridge within 1-2 weeks for best results.
- Freeze rosemary in an ice cube tray by stripping off leaves and freezing them in water or olive oil cubes. Then store cubes in an airtight container or Ziploc bag to use later for sauces or soups. The amount of leaves per cube is up to you, just check how much a common recipe needs and freeze that amount into one cube. These cubes can be used indefinitely, but if they start to lose their flavor, then make a new batch.
- To store your harvested rosemary, wrap it in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. This will keep it fresh for up to two weeks.
- You can also dry your rosemary by hanging it upside down in a cool, dry place for a week or two. Once completely dry, remove the leaves from the stem and store them in an airtight container. Dried rosemary leaves can be stored for up to six months.
Here is a great video that summarizes the entire process of how to grow rosemary indoors:
Creative Ways to Use Rosemary in the Kitchen
Rosemary is a versatile herb that can be used in various dishes. Here are some ways to use your fresh rosemary:
- Lemon Rosemary Chicken – Marinate chicken breasts in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh rosemary, then grill or bake until cooked through.
- Rosemary Roasted Potatoes – Cut potatoes into wedges and toss with olive oil, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven until golden brown and crispy.
- Rosemary Focaccia – Make homemade focaccia bread and sprinkle with fresh rosemary and sea salt before baking. Serve warm with olive oil for dipping.
- Rosemary Garlic Pork Tenderloin – Rub a pork tenderloin with a mixture of minced garlic, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven until cooked through.
- Rosemary Infused Olive Oil – Heat olive oil in a small saucepan with a sprig of fresh rosemary until fragrant. Use the infused oil as a dip for bread or as a finishing oil for salads or roasted vegetables.
Growing rosemary indoors is a rewarding experience that provides fresh herbs for cooking, improves air quality in your home, and has a range of health benefits.
You can grow healthy and thriving indoor rosemary plants by selecting the right plant, preparing the planting site, and providing proper care.
And with a little creativity in the kitchen, you can enjoy the unique flavor of rosemary in a variety of dishes.
Give indoor rosemary gardening a try and see how easy and rewarding it can be!