How to Grow and Care For an Indoor Rosemary Plant
A comprehensive guide for growing and caring for an indoor, rosemary plant, including whether or not you should grow it from seed or seedlings, proper maintenance and care, and a guide to harvesting.
Though it can be challenging to grow rosemary indoors, with a few tips and tricks you will be on your way to having a beautiful, fragrant, and thriving rosemary plant on your windowsill (or wherever else you choose to place it)!
We'll go over everything from:
- how to start your rosemary plant - you can either start from seed or purchase a healthy, nursery-grown plant and transplant it
- care and maintenance - watering, soil preparation, and pest control
- how to successfully harvest your rosemary plant
Then, you will be on your way to dishing up the most flavorful meals for your family, simmering your harvest in your favorite springtime potpourri, and decorating your home with fragrant, dried rosemary stems.
Indoors vs. Outdoors
You may be wondering what the benefits are to growing a rosemary plant inside your home rather than out in the garden. Maybe you don't have a garden?! This would be one of the biggest reasons. If you are short on available space outside, growing rosemary inside may be your best option. Rosemary grown outside can become rather large, almost bush like. Though beautiful, if you aren't able to harvest and utilize all of that rosemary, you may find it to be a waste of space. In addition, the convenience of having fresh rosemary on your windowsill or somewhere else inside your home is especially helpful when cooking. With a quick snip, you can toss fresh rosemary into your favorite dishes for a quick flavor boost, without having to go outside. Keeping your rosemary plant indoors will also allow you to enjoy it all year long, even during the harsh winters. Finally, rosemary smells AMAZING, and is also a naturally beautiful way to freshen up your home and add earthly decor.
Seed vs. Seedling
First things first, you need to decide whether or not you want to grow your rosemary plant from seed, or purchase a healthy seedling that is already under way. Although growing from seed is usually cheaper, in the case of rosemary its best to purchase a seedling from a nursery. Rosemary takes a little while to grow and get started, and instead of waiting all that time for it to fill in, a seedling will get you ahead of the game. Its also a more difficult plant to start from seed, especially if you are not an experienced gardener. If you are insistent on starting your rosemary plant from seed, here is a great article on the best ways to do that. Note that West Coast Seeds does state in the article that the difficulty of growing rosemary from seed is challenging.
Now, if you choose to start with a seedling from your local nursery, you will need to transplant the seedling into an appropriate pot. Choose a pot in a size that will be representative of the largest you want your rosemary plant to get, so that it can grow into it. Once your plant gets to your desired size, you can prune the roots periodically so that it will stay that size. If you ever decide you want your rosemary plant to grow bigger, simply transplant it into a larger pot and discontinue the pruning. Go for a pot depth that will match the height of the plant. So if your plant is or you eventually would like it to be 10 inches tall, choose a pot that is 10 inches deep. Try to find a pot as wide as you are able but that will still fit in your window sill or wherever you are choosing to place it. You want the roots to have enough room to spread and grow. You also want the pot to have good drainage. A pot with a draining hole and a draining pan would be perfect.
Care & Maintenance
As mentioned before, rosemary can be a bit challenging to care for inside the home. Yet with proper watering methods, soil control, and pest prevention, your rosemary plant will do just fine! Rosemary plants prefer dry roots and would rather get their moisture from the air. This is because rosemary plants are native to regions that have warmer temperatures and well-drained, dry soil. When transplanting your seedlings, be sure to use a well draining potting soil. You can also use a liquid fertilizer as often as a couple times a month. Liquid fertilizers or compost teas are extremely easy to make! Here is a great article on making your own.
You will want to keep your rosemary plant in the brightest window in your home, as rosemary plants thrive on sunlight and do best with about 6-8 hours of sun a day. This is very important! If you need to, you can supplement your plant with artificial light occasionally if you don't think its getting enough direct sunlight. As you know now, rosemary plants prefer dry soil, so its best not to over-water your plant. A good rule-of-thumb is to water only when the top two inches of soil have dried out. Pay close attention though, and try not to let the soil dry out completely. Take note, your rosemary plant will need less water in the wintertime.
If the proper care isn't taken in the steps above, your rosemary plant can be prone to pests and mildew. The best prevention for these is to make sure you are growing a healthy and strong rosemary plant by taking care with regards to soil, sunlight, water, and fertilization. All the same, rosemary plants can still be susceptible to a powdery mildew and some types of pests. Try to choose a spot for your plant that is less humid, i.e. not the bathroom or the kitchen. You can also make sure to have a fan blowing on the plant for a couple of hours every day. You will want it to have good air circulation to prevent the mildew. If your rosemary plant begins to develop a pest issue, you can use an organic, or a homemade pest repellent. Just be sure that its safe to use on plants that are edible.
Ah, the best part, enjoying your harvest! You can use rosemary fresh; simply prune above a stem joint. When you are harvesting the plant its important that you never harvest more than 1/3 of it at one time. The younger stems will tend to have more flavor. Fresh rosemary can be used right away or it can also be preserved through freezing, drying, infusing, or making it into a salt. Hang your stems upside down to dry, and place them somewhere visible in your home; herbs drying can really be beautiful! Use your harvested rosemary in your favorite dishes, its especially yummy with chicken As mentioned before, rosemary smells amazing, so it can also be used to freshen up the smell of your home.
Now you should be able to grow, care for, and harvest your own rosemary plant in the convenience of your home. Be sure to follow through with each of the steps explained above, and you'll be growing a vibrant rosemary plant indoors!