How to Turn One Rosemary Plant into 100s

Let’s turn your rosemary plant into 100 more rosemary plants. Start by pruning your rosemary plant. I like cleaning up my rosemary so that it’s a nice, neat, little ball. Start with trimming the outside of your plant. When you look at a rosemary plant, the tips of the plant are called soft cuttings, and you can tell because you can bend the tip over without it breaking. And down at the bottom are actually woody, or hard cuttings. And you can easily tell because if you pushed on those stems, they’d snap. You’re going to cut a soft cutting, so just take a trimming where the stem is moving from soft to hard.

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So if you’ve been here for a while, you know the name of my first business, obviously, is Rooted Garden. But you may not know that the reason is that years ago, my mom taught me how to root cuttings of plants. Particularly, plants like rosemary, which are so easy to root. I was a young mom, and we didn’t have a ton of money, but I wanted to have plants in my yard and in my home and I was amazed at the fact that you could cut off part of a plant, put it in a particular setting, and then end up with tons and tons of more plants. For free! It was just crazy and I was so fascinated by it that I named my company Rooted Garden. So now you know the backstory.

While I trim my plant, I like to give my topiary a little bit of shape. And while I’m just shaping the plant, the whole point is that I’m going to turn all of these trimmings into more rosemary plants so I have rosemary growing for the rest of my life. And I just want to teach you how you can do that too. Even if you don’t have a topiary, you could take a cutting from a neighbor’s rosemary or a friend’s plant. Or you could just buy one and start with that!

Just a quick tip, rosemary is very hard to start from seed. So if you go to a store and they have rosemary seed, I really don’t recommend you buy it as it’s pretty tough to start from seed. But it’s very easy to start from a cutting, so the better thing to do would be to just ask a friend or find a plant that’s really flourishing and take some cuttings. 

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There are a couple of different ways you can root your rosemary cuttings. A lot of people are going to tell you to root them in water because it really is the simplest. The problem with rooting rosemary plants in water is because you’re not going to grow them long term in water, so it’s really setting up the plant to not know their home environment. But you can do it and it’s the quickest, easiest thing. 

Method #1

Take your cutting and feel down the stem where it starts to get woodier. You want to strip the leaves from this spot all the way down to the end of the trimming so that there are a couple of inches of bare rosemary stem because you don’t want any of the leaves touching the water. You can take the leaves you’ve stripped and dry them or use them right away in your cooking or your salad dressings and things. And then you’re simply just going to put this in a glass. A simple little mason jar works great because you don’t want your container to be too deep and get any of the remaining rosemary leaves into the water. You can literally fill this glass up all day long with cuttings, but you do want to remember to make sure it’s a fresh cutting. So if it’s been a while since you took your cutting, you might want to cut a little fresh end on your rosemary. And the best part is, you’re going to smell amazing after you do this. 

And that’s the simplest way to root a rosemary cutting. I don’t recommend it as the best way though because what’s going to happen is these roots are going to be settling and growing in water, and then you’re going to be putting them out in the garden into the soil. And the plants are going to be like, “Wait, what? We were just like, in 100% water, and now we’re in soil. We’re confused.”

Method #2

So the pro way to do this is to root your cuttings in sand. I like to take my little terra cotta pot and fill it with carpenter sand, so not play sand, but carpenter sand that you get at a hardware store. And again, you’re going to take a cutting. Remember to make sure it has a soft tip, so it’s not a woody cutting. It should be pretty soft all the way through. And you’re just going to do the same thing. Strip it, take all the leaves from the bottom, and then just make sure it’s got a fresh cut on it. 

And then what you want to do is first, make sure your sand is somewhat moist and make a little hole in it. You don’t want the rosemary tip to bend at all when it’s going into the sand so just poke a little hole in the sand there with your tool. Now, one thing you can do to help along the process is to dip the end of your rosemary cutting into some cinnamon. This makes sure that your cutting doesn’t rot as it’s starting to root. And then just place the cutting right into that hole you made and then support it with the sand to make sure it stays nice and strong as it starts to produce roots. 

Once you’ve done this, you can put it in a sunny spot on your window and you want to make sure the sand stays moist, but not soaking wet. You want to make sure there's drainage in your pot and you want to make sure it drains but you also want to make sure it doesn't dry out. That is key to this rosemary really starting to root. And you’re going to want to make sure all of these gems are nice and supported in the sand, and keep them watered. And then over the next few weeks, probably within three weeks, you’re going to start to have some really healthy roots on this rosemary, believe it or not. And while it’s not going to be as fast as if you rooted the cutting in the water, you'll have a stronger plant that is going to do much better when you transplant it over to the soil. 

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So you can do it in the water and you're going to think, “Wow, I got all these roots. This is so awesome!” But that doesn't mean that your plant is going to do very well when you put it out into the soil. So this is the way, people. This is the way to root your rosemary! 

This is how you can turn one rosemary into eventually, a million rosemary plants! It’s pretty amazing. It’s the reason why I named my first company, Rooted Garden. Because I just don’t know anything else in the world that you can literally cut and tear apart and have it grow and become a new thing that’s better and stronger and newer. I mean, isn’t that amazing?

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Nicole Burke