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How to Propagate Rosemary

By Olivia Hughes

You might be wondering can you propagate rosemary from cuttings? Then the answer yes! The great thing about herbs is that you can grow plenty of them, even if you’re short on space.

Whether you keep them in pots or in the ground, they are easy, affordable and taste infinitely better than store-bought herbs that come in plastic containers and wilt before you even get them home.

If you’re a big foodie, too, by propagating herbs you’ll be saving a heap of money and ensuring your meals are flavoured by the best herbs. Picture: Erinna Giblin

Basic equipment

The propagating method described here uses cuttings placed in soil. Here is what you’ll need:

    • Some plant material (stems of herbs)
    • Sharp scissors or snips
    • Pots (around 10cm diameter)
    • Seed raising mix
    • Rooting hormone (available from your local nursery) or honey
    • Pencil
    • Plastic bags (optional)
    • Elastic bands (optional)

1. Select and prepare your cuttings

Growing herbs from cuttings is an inexpensive way to expand your garden. Herb cuttings are easy enough to source from your own garden (or from family and friends) and readily generate new plants.

Firstly, choose your plant material. I recommend starting with rosemary because it is easy to source, hardy and so useful for cooking. Other woody-stemmed herbs like thyme, oregano and sage also grow well from cuttings.

Take cuttings from an established, healthy plant in your garden or, with permission, from a friend or neighbour’s garden.

Select shoot tips that snap away easily when you bend the stem and avoid using old, woody pieces.

Rosemary is a great plant to propagate, because it’s easy to source and hardy. Picture: Erinna Giblin

Using your snips, cut just below a leaf node (where a leaf joins the stem) at an angle to create cuttings about 15cm long. Remove leaves three to four centimetres from the bottom of the cuttings.

Remove leaves from the bottom of the cuttings. Picture: Erinna Giblin

2. Plant your cuttings

To plant your cuttings, place some seed raising mix into small pots, leaving about two-and-a-half centimetres between the soil surface and the lip of each pot.

Dip one of your cuttings into the rooting hormone. Alternatively, you can use honey. Both encourage root growth.

Make a hollow in the soil using the end of the pencil. Insert the cutting to a depth of about three centimetres and gently fill the soil around it.

Aim to get the cutting to stay up self-supported. You can use the same pot to establish five to six individual cuttings by spacing the holes evenly.

Now clip the top of the stems. This will help limit the amount of moisture the cuttings lose and increase the chances of your new plants taking off.

Gently water the cuttings in and label the pots with herb names to make identification easy.

Prepared rosemary for propagating. Picture: Erinna Giblin

3. Watch them grow

Place the pots in a position where they will get filtered light rather than harsh, direct light. You can also put a clear sandwich bag over the top of each pot to create a mini greenhouse and encourage fast growth. Use an elastic band to secure the bag around the sides of the pot if it is loose.

Remember to water the cuttings regularly to prevent the soil drying out.

Once the cuttings start to show new leaf growth and roots appear at the base of the pots, they can be planted out into individual pots or into the garden.

Place the pots in a position where they will get filtered light rather than harsh, direct light. Picture: Erinna Giblin

With a little patience, your herb garden will multiply and provide you with delicious, fresh ingredients!

Propagating tips

  • Growing from cuttings is a great way to replace any old herbs that are starting to look tired and weary in the garden.
  • Also try rooting cuttings in water first, then transferring them into pots once some roots have been established. This works well for soft-stemmed herbs such as basil, mint and lemon balm.
  • Annual herbs like parsley, coriander and dill grow best from seed or you can buy them as seedlings.


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