How Fast Does Rosemary Grow?

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Rosemary is often grown in containers or as a ground shrub in small gardens.
Image Credit: Nathan Griffith/The Image Bank/GettyImages

How fast does rosemary grow? An herb from the mint family, rosemary (​Rosmarinus officinalis​) typically reaches up to 3 feet tall by the second season, but the growing conditions can affect the growth rate. Growing rosemary in your herb garden produces leaves that are used to flavor poultry, leafy greens, stews, soups and sauces. It grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 11, although some plants survive in zone 6. Zones 7 through 11 encompass most of the southern and southwestern states, as well as the western coastal areas.

Tip

By the second growing season, rosemary plants typically reach about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Growing conditions can affect the growth rate.

Propagation and Transplanting

When grown from seeds, rosemary is slow to cultivate. For optimal growth, use stem cuttings, layering or division when planting. If your rosemary is potted, transplant the shrub twice a year for growth stimulation. If the shrub becomes too large for the pot, prune off the lower 2 inches of roots when the soil is exposed. For indoor gardeners who do not want to worry about pruning for size, a good rosemary cultivar to try is Blue Boy.

How Fast Does Rosemary Grow?

A mature rosemary shrub reaches 3 feet in height and 2 feet in diameter by its second season, although blooming doesn't occur until year 2. Potted rosemary remains roughly the size of the container, as long as you prune regularly. If you want your indoor rosemary plant to grow larger, repot it in a larger container to promote larger growth.

If your rosemary's growth rate slows, try adjusting the sunlight. Rosemary shrubs require six to eight hours of sunlight a day, so indoor plants may need additional artificial light from grow lights or a good window with plenty of light. Flowers, which are blue or lilac in color, bloom annually in early summer.

Rosemary Foliage Pruning

Once an outdoor rosemary shrub becomes dense with foliage, it can be pruned back several inches once or twice a year using sanitized pruning shears. After pruning, lay out the strips on a screen to dry before pulling off the spicy leaves and storing them. Topiary or hedge shapes are an option, as rosemary is dense enough to have its size and shape manipulated. One of the best specimens for topiary shaping is the Shimmering Stars rosemary cultivar.

Rosemary Plant Maintenance

Rosemary, whether grown indoors or out, requires full sun. When planting rosemary outdoors, allow for 4 to 6 feet of growing height and 3- to 4-foot spacing between specimens. Rosemary doesn't transport well, so it shouldn't be moved once it has reached maturity, although regular transplanting is fine. In winter climates, moderate protection, such as wind-resistant tarps or covers, should be implemented to prevent frost damage.

When it comes to soil, both indoor and outdoor rosemary require well-draining, light soils. They don't grow well in heavy clay soils. Rosemary doesn't need much water to grow well. Let the soil dry out before you water it again to avoid overwatering the herb and causing root rot.

references

Leah Waldron-Gross

Leah Waldron is the head of Traveler Services at First Abroad, a gap year travel company based in Boston and London. As a travel, research and LGBT news writer, Waldron has publication credit on magazines and newspapers including "Curve Magazine," "USA Today," "The Sun Sentinel" and the "The Houston Chronicle." Waldron has a bachelor's and master's degree in creative writing from Florida State University.