Caring for rosemary — information about the versatile spice plant

Characteristic with needle-shaped leaves and an incomparable fragrance, rosemary is an ornament in any place. The evergreen subshrub not only finds a place in the herb garden, but can also be used as a spice plant in a pot on the balcony and terrace until late autumn. The easy-care and robust plant can be harvested all year round and, in addition to the aromatic needles, the flowers are suitable for fresh consumption or drying. As a member of the mint family, all rosemary species provide valuable nectar and thus serve as a nutrient for bees and other insects. All parts of the plant are rich in essential oils and, in addition to flavoring food, can also be used to flavor vinegar and oils, for smoking and much more. As a special feature there is a hanging form (Rosmarinus officinalie `Prostratus`), which is ideal for planting in troughs and pots. There are also varieties with larger leaves, white flowers or bizarre growth as rarities. All varieties are suitable for the home garden. Below you will find the most important care tips.

Things to know Location Planting Care Watering Overwintering Harvesting Pests & Diseases FAQ

Interesting facts about rosemary

Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Other names: rosemary, frankincense herb, bride herb
Use: conditionally hardy perennial, spice plant, plant for balconies and containers, bee pasture
Origin: coastal regions of the Mediterranean
Flowering period: March to May, sometimes a second flowering in late summer
Flower colors: different shades of blue
Special features :The woody plant has a long tradition and is still revered in many regions of the world as a symbol of beauty, love and eternal friendship. It is an important ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes, like sage and other herbs. Also ideal for a location in full sun.

In which location does my rosemary feel most comfortable?

As a Mediterranean plant, the Mediterranean herb loves a warm, sheltered spot in the garden. In the optimal place, the shrub can grow up to 2 m high. Ideally, the popular kitchen herb is close to walls and house walls and thus benefits from the heat storage. In general, having your own herb garden near the house is very practical, as you can use the leaves fresh immediately after harvesting. In harsh locations, the evergreen subshrub is only partially hardy and it is better if you plant the herb in a pot. As a container plant, you can overwinter the herb in phases with temperatures below -5 °C in a frost-free, bright place. This will ensure that the plant does not suffer too much and freeze back. The substrate must not dry out completely, watering every 3 to 4 weeks is necessary. Furthermore, repotting immediately after purchase is beneficial for development. In a small pot, the perennial can only develop a little and suffers in the long run.

Rosmarinus officinalis needs a well-drained soil, lean soil is optimal. Waterlogging and too much hummus are not tolerated. In sites with heavy, loamy soil, good soil preparation before planting is important. Use fine gravel and sand for good drainage. Only in the right location will the shrub feel comfortable and grow and thrive for many years.

How do I plant my rosemary in the garden?

Rosemary is undemanding and grows on poor, sandy soil. When planting in your own garden, the planting hole should be twice the size of the root ball. A drainage layer of sand or gravel is helpful on soils that tend to waterlogging. For good growth, put high-quality potting soil in the planting hole. With a dose of natural fertilizer you promote soil life. Basically, when caring for rosemary, you should pay attention to a location with permeable potting soil. Calcareous soils, like many other herbs, are ideal. The demands of the herb on the soil are very low, a pH value of 5 to 8 is good. The cultivation of rosemary on the bed outdoors is only optimal in climatically favorable regions. The Mediterranean creatures often suffer from excessive soil moisture or permafrost and winter sun.

How do I care for my rosemary?

The Mediterranean herb is absolutely easy to care for and undemanding and only needs regular pruning and some care in the cold season. Even if you continuously harvest the needles, pruning is beneficial for new growth. The subshrub tends to become woody and the sprouting of new shoots decreases over time. It is therefore advisable to trim the shrub into shape in spring. If growth is reduced in late summer and autumn, you should not cut back the shrub too much.
Cut the shoot tips to just above the old wood, leaving a green part. You can also remove thin and dry shoots and thin out a little if necessary. With the pruning, the plant is stimulated to sprout bushy and in a few weeks you can cut many young shoot tips again. When kept in a bucket, the cut is analogous.

In principle, the use of fertilizer is not necessary. Rotted compost can serve as winter protection. This protects the roots from low temperatures and acts like an organic fertilizer for many months. If you want to fertilize the herb, we recommend using Kölle organic fertilizer.

How do I water my rosemary?

Thorough watering immediately after planting is important. The amount of water depends essentially on the size of the root ball and the soil moisture. However, as a rule of thumb, 3 to 5 liters of water can be given per specimen. Repeat watering once a week for the first 3 to 4 weeks depending on sun exposure and rainfall. Once your herb has established itself and new roots have formed, watering is only necessary in extremely hot and low-rainfall phases. Waterlogging is not tolerated and should be avoided.

How do I overwinter my rosemary?

The herb is only partially frost hardy and needs a sheltered place or sufficient winter protection in winter. Fleece or brushwood are suitable as winter protection materials. In the mild wine-growing climate and in the protection of walls and house walls, rosemary plants can live for many years outdoors. As a Mediterranean plant, the shrub prefers dry soil and temperatures in winter of a maximum of -5 °C. Extreme cold and humidity damage rosemary and the plant suffers. Frost tolerance is highly dependent on the age of the plant, location, plant variety and weather conditions.

How do I harvest and use my rosemary?

It is best to use scissors or a sharp knife for the cut. Cut off the green shoots regularly to avoid excessive woody growth. Even if you don’t need the spice, you should cut regularly. Only with the right pruning does the perennial grow in shape and fresh shoots sprout from the somewhat woody part. It is important that you never cut into the old wood, as new growth is difficult. If the herb harvest is intended for storage, a sunny, dry day is best. Shortly before noon the shoots are dry and the concentration of essential oils is at its highest. Whole branches are hung upside down in a shady, dry place. In addition to the needle-shaped leaves, you can also harvest rosemary flowers. These are aromatic and decorative on many dishes. In addition to using them fresh in the kitchen, you can pickle sprigs of rosemary in vinegar or oil, add flavor to salt or use them dried for tea, baths and scented bouquets. You can read the best tips for harvesting herbs in our blog post.

What Pests and Diseases Can My Rosemary Get?

The essential oils contained in all parts of the plant ensure that pests rarely occur.


Aphids suck mainly on the young shoots of rosemary and the secretion of the animals leads to an infestation with sooty mold. Cut off the affected areas generously and dispose of the branches with household waste. Curative treatments with organic active agents revitalize the plants.

scale insects

Scale insects on rosemary are conspicuous by their shield-shaped structures on the leaf veins. Underneath are the lice, which suck on the plants. The animals are isolated and become infested with sooty mold. At the first infestation, isolate the plants to prevent spread. Try to remove the scale insects with tweezers and strengthen the plants with organic plant treatment. Using beneficial insects (natural opponents) is a good way to combat scale insects.

powdery mildew

The fungal disease is common in warm, dry temperatures and primarily affects the leaf surface and stems of rosemary. The white coating can be wiped off and spreads quickly under optimal conditions. Generously remove the affected shoots and treat the plants with organic active agent for plants susceptible to powdery mildew and fungi. Special plant extracts strengthen the cell walls and thereby prevent re-infestation. Mist the plant dripping wet weekly. Even if the location in the winter quarters is too warm, powdery mildew can occur.

Wrong mildew

Downy mildew can damage rosemary, especially in phases with damp, cold weather. The needle-like leaves are infested with white, stubborn deposits and must be removed by radical pruning. Early morning is the right time for a treatment with organic active agents, because this is how the tonic dries before night.

Yellow needles

Yellow needles on your rosemary are often a sign that the herb is too wet. Is the location of the plant too shady or has it been watered too much? If necessary, you can plant the perennial in a sunnier place or provide drainage in the plant pot. Needs-based fertilization is also important when it comes to maintenance.

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about rosemary

Rosemary is blooming, can I still use it?

  • Rosemary flowers are decorative and a valuable food plant for bees, butterflies and other insects.
  • The needles can also be used during the flowering period.
  • It usually flowers from March to May after cool winter temperatures, ie it may not flower if the winter is too warm.

    Which herbs are suitable for combining with rosemary?

    • All plants that prefer a sunny location are ideal.
    • The plants should have similar water requirements.

Lavender or thyme are good for combining.

Is rosemary suitable for balcony plants?

For sunny locations, you can grow the characteristic plant in the balcony box. So you always have the herb close at hand for harvesting. The best time for balcony planting is spring. So you can use the fresh harvest in the kitchen all year round. In the long term, however, the space in the balcony box will become too tight. After 1 to 2 years, transplanting is necessary. Therefore, planting in large pots is optimal.

Can I make tea from rosemary?

Freshly cut or dried, rosemary is suitable for tea preparation. With just a few fresh sprouts you get a spicy tea from your own cultivation.

Can rosemary dry up in winter?

In years with little rainfall, rosemary plants can dry out due to the sun’s rays. If the soil is frozen or there is too little moisture in the soil, the needles will evaporate the water faster than the roots absorb it. Potted specimens in particular should not be left outside in winter.

What can I use homemade rosemary oil for?

Rosemary oil is ideal for frying and refining Mediterranean dishes. Use high-quality organic vegetable oil, such as olive or sunflower oil, for the production. It is important that you use young shoots for pickling in oil and that they come from organic farming.

What does rosemary mean in flower language?

There are a variety of meanings for rosemary. In addition to eternal friendship, the most important are constancy and loyalty.

How does propagation take place?

In addition to the possibility of propagating the herb by seeds, you can cut cuttings. When cutting, make sure that you remove shoots that are not too soft, but also not lignified.

More posts & tips about rosemary

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With aromatic herbs, you can refine your dishes or even completely transform them — there is something for everyone in our selection of herbal recipes.
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How about herbs from your own cultivation? In order for you to be successful, we have summarized all the important dates for you in our sowing calendar.
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In our video we will show you how you can plant your roses in tubs and what you should pay attention to — so nothing stands in the way of the rose garden on the balcony or terrace. In our online shop you will find a large selection of In our video we will show you how you can plant your roses in tubs and what you should pay attention to — so nothing stands in the way of the rose garden on the balcony and terrace. In our online shop you will find a large selection of roses from our tree nursery as well as planters. The practical garden calendar to keep track of the most important care steps for roses.

Can’t get enough herbs? You can order numerous herbs from us, which will be delivered to your home conveniently and in the best quality.

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