How To Plant Rosemary Seed [ Full Guide ]

Rosemary is a fragrant, perennial herb that is popular for its culinary uses, as well as its ornamental qualities. Growing rosemary from seeds is a rewarding and cost-effective way to start a herb garden. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the step-by-step process of planting rosemary seeds, from choosing the right variety to preparing the soil and ensuring proper timing for successful germination and growth.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Rosemary Seed

  1. Choose the right variety of rosemary seeds: Select a variety that suits your climate and intended use, such as culinary or ornamental purposes.

  2. Select the ideal location for planting: Rosemary thrives in well-draining soil and full sun, so choose a sunny, sheltered spot for planting.

  3. Prepare the soil for rosemary seed planting: Ensure the soil is well-draining, and amend with compost if necessary to improve fertility.

  4. Proper timing for planting rosemary seeds: Start seeds indoors or sow directly in the garden after the last frost date, ensuring a warm and consistent temperature for germination.

Choosing The Right Variety Of Rosemary Seeds

Before delving into the actual planting process, it is essential to choose the right variety of rosemary seeds. There are several varieties of rosemary, each with its own unique characteristics and growth habits. Some common varieties include ‘Tuscan Blue’, ‘Arp’, and ‘Spice Islands’. When selecting a variety, consider factors such as climate, intended use (culinary or ornamental), and growth habit.

If you live in a cooler climate, consider choosing a cold-hardy variety such as ‘Arp’, which is more resilient to frost. On the other hand, if you are primarily interested in using rosemary for culinary purposes, a variety with a strong flavor, such as ‘Tuscan Blue’, may be a good choice. Additionally, for ornamental purposes, you may opt for a variety known for its aesthetic appeal, such as ‘Spice Islands’.

When sourcing rosemary seeds, ensure they are fresh and from a reputable supplier to ensure optimal germination rates. After selecting the desired variety, you are ready to move on to the next step of preparing the planting location.

Selecting The Ideal Location For Planting

Rosemary thrives in warm, sunny conditions and well-draining soil. When selecting a location for planting, it is crucial to choose a spot that receives ample sunlight, preferably at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Additionally, ensure the location is sheltered from strong winds, as rosemary can be susceptible to damage from harsh gusts.

If you plan to grow rosemary outdoors, consider the microclimate of your garden. Look for areas that are naturally warmer, such as against a south-facing wall or in a sheltered courtyard.

For those who are limited by space or climatic constraints, rosemary can also be successfully grown in containers. If opting for container gardening, select a pot that provides ample drainage and place it in a sunny location.

Preparing The Soil For Rosemary Seed Planting

Rosemary thrives in well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH. Before planting rosemary seeds, it is essential to prepare the soil to provide the best growing conditions for the herb. The following steps outline how to prepare the soil for successful rosemary seed planting:

Testing The Soil Ph

Start by testing the soil pH using a soil testing kit, available at most garden centers or through online suppliers. Rosemary prefers a slightly alkaline soil pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. If the soil pH is too low, consider amending the soil with lime to raise the pH to the desired range.

Improving Soil Drainage

Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to improve drainage and fertility. Mix the organic matter evenly into the soil, ensuring it is well-distributed throughout the planting area.

Amending The Soil Texture

If your soil has a heavy clay texture, consider incorporating sand or perlite to improve drainage and prevent waterlogging. Conversely, if the soil is overly sandy and drains too quickly, adding organic matter can help improve moisture retention.

Creating Raised Beds Or Mounds (optional)

In areas with heavy or poorly-draining soil, creating raised beds or mounds can provide better drainage for rosemary plants. By elevating the planting area, excess water is less likely to accumulate around the roots, reducing the risk of root rot.

Proper Timing For Planting Rosemary Seeds

The timing of planting rosemary seeds is crucial for successful germination and subsequent growth. Rosemary is a slow-growing herb, and starting seeds indoors can provide a head start on the growing season.

Sowing Indoors

If you live in a region with a shorter growing season or are eager to see early growth, you can start rosemary seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Use seedling trays or small pots filled with a well-draining seed starting mix. Sow the seeds lightly on the soil surface, and mist to moisten the soil. Cover the containers with plastic wrap or a dome to retain moisture and place them in a warm location that receives indirect sunlight.

Sowing Outdoors

For those in regions with milder climates, rosemary seeds can be directly sown into the garden after the last frost date. Ensure the soil has warmed to at least 70°F (21°C) before sowing seeds in the garden. As rosemary seeds require warmth to germinate, wait until the soil temperature reliably reaches this level for successful outdoor sowing.

Successfully planting rosemary seeds requires attention to detail from selecting the right variety to ensuring proper soil preparation and timing of planting. By choosing a suitable variety, providing the ideal growing conditions, and following proper planting practices, you can enjoy the gratifying experience of growing rosemary from seeds. Whether you are an avid cook looking for a fresh supply of culinary herbs or a gardening enthusiast keen on adding a fragrant and visually appealing herb to your garden, the process of planting rosemary seeds can be both fulfilling and rewarding.

Sowing Rosemary Seeds Indoors

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a versatile and fragrant herb that is widely used in cooking, as well as in traditional medicine. While rosemary is commonly propagated through cuttings, planting seeds is another viable option for growing this herb. Planting rosemary seeds allows you to have a larger number of plants, and it can be a rewarding experience to watch these tiny seeds transform into healthy seedlings.

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Sowing rosemary seeds indoors is a great way to give them a head start before transplanting them outdoors. Here are the steps to successfully sow rosemary seeds indoors:

  1. Choose the right seeds: Ensure you have reliable and fresh rosemary seeds. Ideally, choose seeds specifically labeled as suitable for indoor sowing. You can obtain them from reputable nurseries or online seed suppliers.

  2. Prepare the containers: Use shallow containers that have drainage holes at the bottom. You can opt for seed trays or small pots. Make sure to clean and sterilize the containers to prevent any potential diseases. Fill the containers with a well-draining, lightweight potting mix.

  3. Sow the seeds: Moisten the potting mix slightly before sowing the seeds. Scatter the rosemary seeds evenly over the surface of the potting mix. Gently press them down to ensure they have proper soil contact, but do not cover them with additional soil, as rosemary seeds require light to germinate. Lightly mist the seeds with water to settle them.

  4. Cover the container: Place a clear plastic lid or plastic wrap over the container to create a mini-greenhouse effect. This helps to maintain humidity and promote germination. Poke a few holes in the plastic to allow for some air circulation.

  5. Provide warmth and light: Rosemary seeds require warm temperatures for germination. Keep the container in a warm indoor location with a temperature ideally around 70-75°F (21-24°C). You can use a heating mat or a warm spot near a sunny window. Additionally, provide at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight or use a grow light to ensure sufficient light for the seeds.

  6. Ensure proper moisture levels: Maintain the moisture level in the potting mix by misting it with water whenever it starts to dry out. Do not overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to fungal issues. The soil should feel slightly damp but not soggy. Check the moisture level daily and adjust as needed.

  7. Monitor germination: Rosemary seeds can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to germinate, although it may take longer in some cases. Keep an eye out for the emergence of tiny seedlings. Once the majority of the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic cover to allow for better airflow.

  8. Thinning and transplanting: When the seedlings develop their first true leaves, which are the second set of leaves after the initial ones, it is time to thin them out. Choose the healthiest and strongest-looking seedlings and remove the weaker ones by carefully pulling them out from the container. Transplant the selected seedlings into separate pots, providing them with enough space for their root growth.

Transplanting Rosemary Seedlings Outdoors

Once the threat of frost has passed and the weather has warmed up, it’s time to transplant your rosemary seedlings from indoors to their permanent outdoor location. Follow these steps to ensure a successful transition:

  1. Choose the right location: Select a spot in your garden that offers full sun exposure for at least 6-8 hours per day. Rosemary thrives in well-draining soil, so make sure the planting area has good drainage.

  2. Prepare the soil: Prior to planting, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This helps to improve fertility, drainage, and overall soil structure. Rosemary prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH level of 6.0-7.0.

  3. Harden off the seedlings: Before transplanting the seedlings directly into the garden, they need to be gradually acclimated to outdoor conditions. This process is known as hardening off and helps the plants adjust to temperature fluctuations, wind, and sunlight. Start by placing the seedlings outdoors for a few hours in a sheltered location, gradually increasing the time over a period of 7-10 days. Avoid direct sunlight and protect the seedlings from strong winds during this phase.

  4. Dig the planting holes: Dig holes in the prepared planting area that are slightly larger than the root ball of each seedling. Space the holes at least 12-18 inches apart to allow for proper airflow and root development.

  5. Remove the seedlings from their pots: Carefully loosen the root balls of the seedlings to ensure their roots can easily extend into the surrounding soil. Gently remove the seedlings from their pots, holding them by the leaves or the root ball to prevent damage.

  6. Plant the seedlings: Place each seedling into a planting hole and backfill with soil, firming it gently around the base of the plant. Ensure that the seedlings are planted at the same depth they were in their pots. Water the seedlings immediately after planting to help settle the soil and eliminate any air pockets.

  7. Mulch and protect: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the base of the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. This also helps to regulate soil temperature. Consider using a protective covering, such as row covers or cloches, if there is a chance of cooler temperatures or frosts early in the growing season.

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Watering Requirements For Rosemary Seedlings

Proper watering is crucial for the establishment and growth of rosemary seedlings. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Watering frequency: Rosemary is a drought-tolerant plant and is susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Allow the top inch or so of the soil to dry out before watering the seedlings. Check the moisture level by inserting your finger into the soil or using a moisture meter. Water thoroughly when needed, but avoid creating waterlogged conditions.

  2. Deep watering: When you water, make sure to water deeply to encourage the seedling’s roots to grow deeper into the soil. This helps the plant become more resilient and less dependent on frequent watering.

  3. Watering method: To prevent fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, it’s best to water the seedlings at the base rather than overhead. This reduces the humidity around the foliage and minimizes the risk of leaf moisture retention.

  4. Morning watering: Water your rosemary seedlings in the morning, allowing the foliage to dry out before evening. This helps to prevent the growth of fungal pathogens that thrive in moist conditions.

  5. Adjust according to weather: During hotter and drier periods, you may need to increase the frequency of watering. Conversely, in cooler and more humid conditions, reduce watering to avoid waterlogged soil.

Providing Adequate Sunlight For Rosemary Plants

Sunlight plays a crucial role in the growth and development of rosemary plants. Here’s how to ensure your rosemary seedlings receive adequate sunlight:

  1. Full sun exposure: Rosemary requires at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive and produce abundant foliage and flavorful leaves. Choose a location in your garden that receives the maximum amount of sunlight.

  2. Orientation: If possible, plant your rosemary seedlings in a spot that receives morning sun and some protection from intense afternoon heat. This helps to prevent the foliage from burning or wilting during the hottest part of the day.

  3. Consider indoor lighting: If you have limited outdoor space or live in a region with a short growing season, you can supplement sunlight with indoor grow lights. Position the lights 6-12 inches above the rosemary seedlings and adjust them as the plants grow. Aim for 12-16 hours of light daily for optimal growth.

  4. Rotate the pots: If you are growing rosemary in containers, periodically rotate the pots to ensure that all sides of the plant receive adequate light. This helps to prevent the plant from leaning towards the light source and promotes even growth.

Growing rosemary from seeds is a rewarding experience that allows you to have a plentiful supply of this versatile herb. By following the steps outlined in this article, from sowing the seeds indoors to transplanting the seedlings outdoors, you can successfully grow healthy rosemary plants. Remember to provide the right conditions, such as proper watering, sunlight, and well-draining soil, to ensure the growth and well-being of your rosemary plants. With patience and care, you will soon be enjoying the bountiful harvest of fragrant rosemary leaves in your cooking and other endeavors.

Fertilizing Rosemary Seedlings

Rosemary is a fragrant herb that is commonly used in cooking, gardening, and even for medicinal purposes. It is a hardy perennial plant that can be grown from seeds, but it requires specific conditions and care for successful germination and growth.

Before planting rosemary seeds, it is essential to prepare the soil with proper nutrients. Rosemary prefers well-draining soil with a pH level between 6 and 7. If the soil is too acidic, add lime to raise the pH level. If the soil is too alkaline, add sulfur to lower the pH level.

To enhance the soil’s fertility, mix compost or well-rotted manure into the planting area. This will provide the rosemary seedlings with a rich source of nutrients for healthy growth. Additionally, you can add slow-release organic fertilizer to promote long-term feeding.

Once the rosemary seedlings are established, they will benefit from occasional feeding with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to half strength and apply every two weeks during the growing season. However, be cautious not to over-fertilize as this can lead to excessive growth and may compromise the flavor and aroma of the rosemary leaves.

Pruning And Shaping Rosemary Plants

Pruning and shaping rosemary plants are essential for maintaining their health, shape, and compactness. Regular pruning helps prevent the plants from becoming woody and encourages bushier growth. It is best to start pruning rosemary plants when they are young to establish a good shape.

Begin by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. This will improve air circulation and reduce the risk of pests and diseases. Next, focus on shaping the plant by trimming the long and leggy stems. Use sharp pruning shears or scissors to make clean cuts just above a set of leaves or a lateral branch.

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When pruning, try to maintain a rounded shape for the rosemary plant. This will allow sunlight to reach all parts of the plant, ensuring even growth and development. Avoid cutting back more than one-third of the plant at a time as it may weaken the rosemary and slow its growth.

Protecting Rosemary Seedlings From Pests And Diseases

While rosemary is generally a resilient plant, it can still fall victim to certain pests and diseases. Taking preventive measures and monitoring your plants regularly will help keep them healthy and thriving.

One common pest that affects rosemary is the aphid. Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that can multiply quickly and damage the foliage. To control aphids, you can use insecticidal soap or a mixture of diluted neem oil. Apply the solution directly to the affected areas and repeat as necessary until the infestation is under control.

Another pest that can damage rosemary is the spider mite. These tiny pests can create fine webs on the plant, suck the sap out of its leaves, and cause wilting. To combat spider mites, you can use a strong jet of water to dislodge them from the plant. Additionally, spraying the plant with a mixture of water and liquid soap can help control their population.

Rosemary can also be susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot. Prevent powdery mildew by ensuring proper air circulation around the plant, spacing them adequately, and avoiding overhead watering. If root rot occurs, it is often due to overwatering or poorly drained soil. Ensure that the soil dries out between waterings and improve drainage if necessary.

Harvesting Rosemary Plants And Storing Seeds

When it comes to harvesting rosemary, the best time is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun is at its peak. This is when the rosemary leaves contain the highest concentration of essential oils, providing the best flavor and aroma.

To harvest rosemary, use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. Take care not to strip the plant of too many branches or leaves, as this can harm its overall health. Cut the stems just above a node (the point where leaves emerge) to encourage new growth. You can harvest the entire stem or snip off individual leaves as needed.

Once you have harvested the rosemary, you can dry the branches for later use. Bundle the stems together and hang them upside down in a cool, well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause the essential oils to evaporate. After a few weeks, the branches should be thoroughly dried and ready for storage.

To store rosemary seeds, allow the flowers to fully bloom and then dry on the plant. Once the flowers have dried and turned brown, gently shake the plant to release the seeds. Collect the seeds and store them in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. Properly stored rosemary seeds can remain viable for up to three years.


Growing rosemary from seed can be a rewarding experience for any gardener. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure successful germination and healthy growth of your rosemary seedlings. Remember to provide adequate fertilization, prune and shape the plants regularly, protect them from pests and diseases, and harvest and store seeds properly. With proper care, your rosemary plants will thrive and provide you with a fragrant and versatile herb for years to come.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Rosemary Seeds?

The best time to plant rosemary seeds is in the spring when the temperatures are mild and the soil is warm. Avoid planting in the summer as the heat can stress the seeds and hinder germination.

What Type Of Soil Should I Use For Planting Rosemary Seeds?

Rosemary seeds thrive in well-draining, sandy soil with a pH level between 6.0-7.0. It is important to avoid dense or clay soils to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

Do I Need To Pre-treat Rosemary Seeds Before Planting?

It is not necessary to pre-treat rosemary seeds, but some gardeners have had success by soaking the seeds in warm water for a few hours before planting. This can help soften the seed coat and improve germination rates.

How Deep Should I Plant Rosemary Seeds?

Rosemary seeds should be planted about 1/4 inch deep in the soil. The small size of the seeds means they should be barely covered with soil. Inadequate soil coverage can lead to seed exposure and drying out.

How Often Should I Water Rosemary Seeds After Planting?

Rosemary seeds need to be kept moist but not waterlogged. Aim to water once a week, or more frequently if the soil dries out quickly. It is important to water the seeds gently to avoid disturbing them or washing them away.