Rosemary Tree Care Guide

These little trees are full, fragrant, fun and fabulous snipped over roasted potatoes, grilled chicken, homemade pizza and so much more. Enjoy outdoors through the seasons and move inside when weather chills in fall.

Choosing a Growing Site

Choose a site with good sunlight. Rosemary plants are happiest in full sun and can manage hot afternoon sites with no trouble.

Soil Prep

If you live in zones 8-10 and are planting in the ground, look for a site where the soil drains well. Rosemary originates in the Mediterranean where soils are well drained, even gritty soil. Rosemary roots may rot in soggy soil. 

Rosemary tolerates salt spray well making these good plants for patios and porches on beach homes. 

When to Plant Rosemary

Plant outdoors in spring when frost danger has past, the soil has warmed and night temperatures are in the 50s at a minimum. Or keep in a container and place in sun.

How to Plant Rosemary

Dig a hole a bit larger than the pot your rosemary plant is in and loosen the surrounding soil. Gently tip your tree out of it's nursery pot and set upright in the hole so that the soil level from the pot is even with the ground soil. Fill with the soil you removed, pat to remove large air pockets and water to settle the soil. Check to make sure your plants hasn't sunk a bit; if it has, correct that. Consider add a layer of bark mulch to keep the roots cool, the soil temperature more even day to night, and to suppress weeds. Keep the mulch pulled back an inch or so from the main stem.

During the Season 

Rosemary needs about 1" of water per week in most regions. Allow the soil to dry between waterings. Monitor the branch tips to determine if your tree is receiving enough water; a curled tip can indicate that the plant needs more moisture. This is sometimes the case if an outdoor site is very hot and/or windy. Feed lightly in late spring and again in mid summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer.

Feel free to snip branches here and there for cooking, baking and grilling. 

At the Season’s End

In zones 8-10, simply leave your rosemary tree in the garden. In colder regions, you can pot up your rosemary and bring it indoors for the winter. 

Insider Tips

  1. Fresh herbs are the best! Feel free to snip. Note that drying hebs concentrates the flavors, so you'll likely use a bit more rosemary if starting with fresh.
  2. In chillier parts of zone 8 there may be some winter damage during cold years. Trim off browned needles in spring.
  3. You can choose to prune your tree to retain its conical shape or let it grow out into its natural form. An esthetic preference.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full sun 

Soil: Average

Depth: Same as surrounding soil

Water:  Average moisture

Uses: Containers. Borders in frost-free regions.

Tip: Snip for fresh herbs

GUIDE: Rosemary Tree

They Start Out Looking Like This: