Rosemary From Seed - Worth It?

parad0x(Z7 Philadelphia)March 23, 2007

Doing some web-surfing I found this "Starting from seed is not practical; seeds are slow to germinate, and the rate of germination is poor. It takes three years to produce a good-sized plant from seed". Is this true? I have a few seedlings started in my basement, the biggest is probably about an inch tall. Will it grow to a harvestable height this season? Don't know if I'd feel like taking care of it indoors til next year

Todd In Philly

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Save yourself a lot of waiting time and buy a seedling! Not only is rosemary slow to germinate, it's very slow to grow - especially in its first year or two. If your climate isn't warm enough, it might make no noticeable progress for longer than that! My subtropical climate suits rosemary perfectly, but even here it was about 3 years before it really started taking off! Now, I hack it back every 3-4 months or so to keep it at a manageable size.

The answer to your question is, then: No your baby rosemary will NOT get to a decent size this season - or next.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 7:17AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My primed rosemary seeds are bought from Johnnys. Last year, every single pot that I planted had germinated. They reached a decent size with about 10 sets of leaves by the end of May and the plants flourished outdoors all summer. The seeds were quick to germinate in about 10 days. A slower to germnate seed is asparagus, and even for that, my plants are now at 6 inches tall already and were planted at the beginning of March. I have never tried to grow rosemary before, and chose the primed seeds only because they germinate so well. I was so impressed, that I bought more for this year. The link below has these seeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Primed rosemary seed

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 10:28AM
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ncage(z5 IL)

Ive never had a problem getting rosemary to germinated at all. In fact compared to one of the hot chiles i try to germinate (tepin/chiltepin) its very very easy. I would say if you like planting seeds and enjoy doing everything yourself then go ahead but if your only growning 1-2 plants its probably more economical just to buy the plants and not mess with it. I only plant it myself because i already plant so many other things that its not big deal. I just buy my rosemary seeds locally from walmart for like a buck.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 10:58PM
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I just bought rosemary seeds from Walmart and planted them today! Like you I am growing alot of things so why not grow that too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Jessi's Grow Log

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:55PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

One reason I don't use the seed is because I look for and buy the Arp Rosemary. It is a hybrid that doesn't produce well by seed but does a good job as a cutting. The plant is winter hardy with just a minimum of care even in zone 5. Sandy

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 4:59PM
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We planted a bought rosemary plant a few years ago, and now it is huge and the stem at the base is well over an inch thick. In fact, it needs to be cut back so I have room for some other annual herbs in the same area.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 5:54PM
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Easier and in the past years cheaper to purchase rosemary plants and treat as annuals in areas that they don't overwinter. I have tried the ARP with no success.

I do like the barque sp rosemary I found last year. It grows a stiff stem that you can use to string veggies and meats for cooking.

My house does not have a window with good sunlight to winter over.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 9:50PM
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leira(6 MA)

I just came across this thread, and I have a few thoughts to share. I think people are more negative than they need to be about growing rosemary (and in fact many perennial herbs) from seed. I've done it in the past, as have various people I know, and it worked out just fine. My current perennials are from plants or from layering, however. Rosemary does propagate well from cuttings, or via layering. Nurseries I've visited seem to do it from cuttings. To the best of my knowledge, Arp rosemary is not a hybrid (and definitely not an intentional one), but rather a sport (i.e. a spontaneous mutation). I have read that it grows true from seed, but I don't have strong confirmation of this. There is much conflicting information available about Arp. Maifleur says she doesn't have a sunny enough window, and while I know that conventional wisdom says to over-Winter rosemary plants in the sunniest window possible, I've had great luck the last couple of years (and in fact my only over-Wintering success) in a north-east window in my kitchen, which gets a very small amount of morning light at best. The first year it was there out of laziness (I kept swearing that I would move it to the other end of the house), but now I leave it there by design...because if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Not directly covered in this post, but related to over-Wintering success: I also regularly see the recommendation to keep indoor rosemary away from cold windows, and to bring it inside if there's the slightest danger of frost. Most rosemary varieties can handle freezing temperatures, and are hardy even with occasional forays into the 20s (Fahrenheit). I've had the best luck with over-Wintering rosemary since I started leaving it outside until the temperatures were predicted to dip into the low 20s, and then hardening it off and getting it back outside as soon as low-20s temps were gone again in the Spring.

I'm a little rosemary-obsessed right now. In addition to my big plant and its volunteer baby over-Wintering in my kitchen, I've planted an Arp outside in the garden. Temps over the next few days are predicted to drop near (and even below) 0 degrees F, so I'm glad that the Arp is currently protected by a heavy blanket of snow. I will be anxiously awaiting March, to see if it survived the Winter.

I'm also due to pin down a few more rosemary branches in the big pot, to see if I can propagate a few more plants for the Spring...all of these will need new homes, however, since I think I'm rather full up at the moment!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 12:59PM
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marthacr(z5 Me)

leira- glad to see that you are rosemary obsessed right now, as I am looking today for information! I want to grow 2 types this year to provide rosemary to my market. I found info that Tuscan Blue is the "chef's favorite," and that Arp is the hardiest. I found one plug supplier that lists just R. officinalis with no variety name, but would be leery of buying this without it specifically called Tuscan Blue. I'm hoping to try winter sowing some seed for plants for next year and buying some plugs or plants for this year's harvesting.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 10:09AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm pretty sure that 'Arp' was discovered as a sport, which means that it needs to be asexually propagated in order to produce clones. In other words, any seeds that you may collect won't produce more 'Arp.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 5:49AM
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leira(6 MA)

Well, rhizo, a sport is a genetic mutation, not a hybrid. A mutation probably will breed true (or at least there's no reason to automatically assume it won't). Zucchinis are a sport from summer squash, for instance, and we grow those from seed all the time.

Martha, if you're already going to buy plants to start with, I would probably recommend propagating those via cuttings or layering. Propagating rosemary by layering is as simple as dirt -- my potted rosemary propagated itself last Winter, if you can believe it. While cuttings are more difficult (you need to keep the humidity right until they root, which can be slow), it's not too bad. Some sort of humidity dome can help a lot.

As for Tuscan Blue being the "chef's favorite," I might check with an actual chef first, if it was a garden catalog that told you that! Or, if it's practical, you could grow a couple of different varieties, and see what makes the most sense for you when you take into account ease of cultivation and customer popularity.

Also, Martha, I see that you're in Zone 5. Arp is theoretically hardy to Zone 6, but if you have a particularly sheltered area, or a greenhouse, or something, maybe you could get it to survive year round for you. I think that any rosemary that you could keep going from year to year would seriously pay off. They grow awfully slowly for the first year or two, but at some point they really start to take off.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 9:32AM
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My experience about growing rosemary from seed is still ongoing. The seeds that I get from Amazon (zziggysgal's) is claimed to be 80% successful germination. Oregano ,thyme and majoram from same vendor are germinated like 90% on my first try.

I prepared these seed like this: I soak the seeds into water overnight then sow into the cup filled with growing soil. Water every day with water Sprayer. The next 13 days, A sprout happened then it wilted and died.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 6:07AM
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This time I tried to prepare the seeds as those bean, sage or any plant with hard shell seed. I gently cracked its shell with a plier until I saw a tiny fracture line. Then I put them under wet cotton in closed small tupperware. Leave it behind the fridge for 2 day. Then sow it again.
Next "ten" days......

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 6:10AM
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Yes, growing rosemary from seed is pratical (for this time). Maybe I'm lucky. I don't know but next time I want to grow those with long germination time and have thick hard shell seed. I will definitely use this method
Here's the last picture (after 2 weeks).

PS I'm living in Thailand where It's hot, moise and daytime is quite long.

This post was edited by nooi on Sat, Sep 7, 13 at 6:41

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 6:15AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Interesting ! I have never seen Rosemary seedling before.
As I look at them, I think they look more like SAGE !

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 3:20AM
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Seysonn is right, I'm afraid. Those seedlings are definitely not rosemary.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 9:21AM
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