how to start rosemary cutting..?

vieja_gw(z7NM)February 10, 2007

I have a rosemary bush that is over 4 feet tall. I'd like to take a cutting x this one & start another one but try to keep it smaller & pruned like a 'Christmas tree'. How can I get a cutting started & where on the present one should I take the cutting? I haven't done this before so would appreciate any help/suggestions! The bush I have now has survived many winters in the 12-15 degree temps. we occasonally get here & has done well.


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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Some kinds of rosemary are more cold hardy than others. I grew some from primed seeds and they are now all dead due to the cold in Z6. A few years ago, I had bought a plant that looked like and evergreen and had a slightly different leafe color and shape, and that too had died in the cold or winter. I suppose that if your in Z7, and cut a stem with a couple branches on it, and use some rooting hormone, it may do well.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 11:41AM
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Most instructions suggest using older wood for the cuttings rather than the newer tips and removing all leaves. The more leaves you leave on the higher the amount of moisture is moved making the cutting dry.

The ones that are trained as trees are different than the NM native plants. You could try to train but most grow on multiple stems and do not naturally form what is called a standard or tree shap.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 12:11AM
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I must have bought the same variety you did ... a 'Christmas tree' form from Home Depot at Christmas. It didn't even survive til now in a room we keep @ 50-60 degrees in winter; and I had plans to transplant it outdoors this spring as a perennial!! Glad I had 90 day warranty on it from Home Depot so got my money back when I returned it. I always search the tags on plants to see the cold tolerences but these rosemarys didn't have it listed ... that shoould have been a warning! I really irritates me when these places sell 'perennial' plants/shrubs (and some very expensive!)in zones where they won't survive. People usually don't consult the tags as I usually do but assume if they are sold in an area they will survive!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:10PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yes, that Home Depot type had a bigger leaf with a lighter color on the bottom side. The rosemary I started from primed seeds was actually sticky when I plucked some stems. It was almost like an evergreen. Many nurseries and plant companies that sell things like blackberries and other berry bushes will sometimes fail to tell if the plant is winter hardy. Several times I tried to grow my favorite which is the boysenberry. None have ever survived here. Neither do any soft neck garlic. The last time I bought what I thought were brussles sprouts turned out to be cabbage. Needless to say, I start all my plants from my own seeds now. At least I know what they will grow into.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:30PM
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It would be much easier to just ground layer one of the outer branches. It should root in a month or so. Read up on ground layering, it's simple to do.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 7:35PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Mine from seeds was quite bushy on its own. Because I used some weed blocking fabric mulch around the plants, they didn't set much of any roots from stems on the ground. All of mine are dead now, due to the cold winter, so I started a few more from some seeds I had bought last year.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 9:33AM
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sandlapper_rose(Zone 8)

I have rooted rosemary several times in the past and this is how I always do it: take a cutting that has some harder wood on it - not a still green tip but one that has hardened up just a little - not totally hard from the inside of a lower limb - just a tip that has been on the plant awhile. Remove enough of the leaves from the bottom of the cutting so that you can insert the stem an inch or so into the potting medium. I always use course builder's sand. Make sure the pot has holes for drainange. I then put a piece of coffee filter in the bottom of the pot to make sure the sand doesn't wash out through the holes. Wet the sand well, dip the bottom of the rosemary cutting in rooting hormore, tap lightly to remove the excess, make a hole in the sand, insert the cutting, and firm up the sand so the cutting will stay in place. Now, go to a shady area of your garden, dig a hole that is deep enough so you can place the pot into it with only the rim part uncovered. The soil that surrounds the pot will help to retain moisture. I do not use any type of cover over the pot, just make sure to check on it and water as necessary. In the summer here, that is pretty often, sometimes every day.
A friend of mine told me about this method for rooting things and it has worked well on almost everything!
Good luck. (You can knick the edges of the end that you hope will root a bit if you want to increase the surface area. I do not usually do not do that, but it can be effective.)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 10:31AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The use of a specific rooting hormone can also help.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 8:40AM
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I am curious about rosemary cuttings also, Vieja. Several plants have survived the Winter on the floor of our greenhouse. I haven't turned the heat on - just covered the rosemary during the coldest weather with a quilt.

The soil will need to be replaced in the pots for a new growing year and it would be so simple at that time to divide the crowns or take root cuttings. Would they grow?

They are a very nice culinary variety and it would be wonderful to have a few more but I wouldn't want to kill the plants trying.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 9:04PM
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I should say that from what I can find in books, semihardwood cuttings should be taken late in the growing season. I doubt if I could do that.

This is the 2nd Winter I've got rosemary thru but on the 1st try, nearly half of them died. I'd think newly rooted plants would have even a harder time of it.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 9:13PM
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I live in the South, with a looong growing season and only occasional light freezes, so I don't know if my experience relates to other parts of the country. . . .When we were in NE FL and the Rosemary was in the ground, I took cuttings the same way I've done here with a potted Rosemary (clay soil! ugh!) Last June/July I took 4-5 in. softwood cuttings, stripped off the lower inch or so of leaves, (and used them on roasted chicken that night!) used rooting hormone, and just stuck them in a pot with a soil mix (made it myself with a lot of perlite) that would stay damp (hard to remember to water several times a day here in the summer heat.) By Christmas, I had healthy plants to give away (my son-in-law wanted one; that's why I did the cuttings.) After the babies get good strong roots, they need to be potted in a WELL-draining soil. Rosemary needs to really dry out in between waterings, after it's established. And it can't have too much sun! Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 11:16PM
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I have a rosemary plant in an aprox. 6 gallon pot and it's dying! I am mangaing to kill one of the hardiest herbs out there - that's what I'm told. The plant is about 12" high and 75% percent of it is dead! The leaves just flake off to the touch - as if I bought them dried in the supermarket.

I've been told that I have been over watering it. I haven't watered it in two weeks in hopes of drying it out. I bought a moisture meter and even though I haven't been watering it it still reads all the way to the wetest spectrum.

Shall I try replanting? I live in California, how often do I water it when the temp is 80 degrees by day and 60 at night! I need help!

-steve rosen-

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 1:30AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Difficult to say how muh water is needed. Soil type, pot size, and plant size allaffect the amount of water a plant uses. If the surface of the soil is very wet after a couple of days, it may be too much. If the soil is heavy and clay like, it may need to have some peat moss and sand mixed in to airate it a bit more. Outdoor temps at 80 degrees and in full sun can dry out the plant soil faster than if it were in partial shade, or have temps below 70 for 12 hours or more. Overwatering can have different effects on plants. Some leaves turn yellow, or the plant starts to get stunted and lacks sizable leaves if the water in soil is excessive. If 75% of the plant has died, and the leaves have dropped, its probably dead already. Sometimes repotting can help, as well as adding some specific types of fertilizers that are helpful in reducing transplant shock, but because it at 75%, it will probably die. Sometimes its also due to fungus gnats, and their maggots that infest the soil and kill healthy roots.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:14AM
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Steve, if 75% of your rosemary is dead, I don't think the plant will come back. If you have a healthy branch or 2, you might try to root cuttings. If the moisture meter reads the wettest and you haven't watered in 2 weeks, then your potting soil is reataining WAY too much moisture for a rosemary. After rooting my cuttings, I put them in a 3 gal. pot with the bottom 1/3 filled with sand and the top 2/3 filled with a pine shred/sand/hyponex potting soil mix (about 1/3 parts of each.) Here in 95+ summer temps, I only water it about once a week if it hasn't rained. During the winter rainy season, it goes on a porch to keep from getting drenched, then back out into full sun when the monsoon ends. Hope this helps. Good luck with taking cuttings, if you can.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:58PM
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HerbLady49(Z6 PA)

Hi Viega,
In the past I've rooted thousands of rosemary cuttings. I use moist Pro-mix or any soiless medium. Take 4-6" tip(at the top)or stem cuttings(below the top). Try to stay away from wood that is too soft or too hard. Cut just below a leaf. Remove some leaves that will be in the soil. Dust on some rooting hormone. You can put them in a single pot or pack them into a flat. Keep soil moist but not wet and in a few weeks roots will form. The soil temperature should not go below 65-70 degrees to get good rooting. Rosemary is very easy to root.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 3:34PM
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the real rosemary usually seeds itself, and I can't get mine to stop invading the other beds around it. I have to cut alot of it, which means that I have to dry it and store it up. But usually if you get some rooting hormone, you can dip the cutting in it, or lean the plant over and nick one of the branches, and put it in the ground. soon it will have it's own roots and you can move it anywhere you want. This works for just about all plants. With rosemary, you might not need the rooting hormone, just snap of a piece with y our finger, and put it in a pot, it might grow. Mine does.
good luck!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 12:56PM
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sorry for moving off topic, but this is mentioned here. i saw a tv show that claimed rosemary can survive in z5 if proper precautions are taken. in the fall after the first frost, you gently lay the plant on its side & cover it with full bales of straw (not hay). in the spring, you can uncover. the host claimed that it was the thaw/freeze cycle that kills it & the straw will allow one good freeze followed by 1 thaw. i container grow my rosemary inside, so have never tried this..... just a fyi.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 9:51AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Some types can, but most will freeze and die in Z6 or lower, no matter what you try to do. One time, I tried to cover with a heavy plastic mulch and a lot of straw, and dead oak leaves and it still was dead the next spring. I start from primed seeds like most any other herb and it does great. Last years seeds turned into bushes about a foot in diameter and a foot tall, and very bushy. I dug up a couple from the garden in July and gave them to an Italian friend, who potted them and brought them indoors in the fall. Not sure if they will survive, but he will be letting me know soon. I dried the leaves whole, and either crush or grind them when I need some. Mixed with butter, thyme, garlic, and some olive oil and formed into small cubes and frozen are really nice on cooked meats, poultry, and even seafood.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 8:12PM
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THis message is for Diniecita. You said you had rosemary that seeds itself. Mine never does that and is very sticky and does not seed itself. Is there anyway I can get some seeds from you? That would be great....thanks! Carol

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:33AM
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When my 6yr old rosemary bush died; I found out that with it living in a pot, it had made a solid ball of the roots. So it ended up dying. My other one was in a planter box(huge one); the roots balled up and it actually fell sideways out of the box. Luckily I was able to replant it after clipping the root ball.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 4:08PM
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