Rooting For Rosemary, Baby!

by Katy on February 19, 2014 · 15 comments

I may very well be the laziest gardener this side of the Rocky Mountains. I want my plants to require no upkeep, and if I can get them for free, all the better. So when my next door neighbors pruned back their rosemary bush, I scooped up an armload of rosemary branches/sticks/whatever with a plan to root them up for my own garden.

See this semi-elegant flower pot? I stole borrowed stole it from my mother, and it sits to the right of my front door and has been filled with wild oregano that I plucked from the cracks in my driveway for the past couple of years. (Did I mention what a lazy gardener I am?) Unfortunately, the extended freezing cold temperatures that Portland shivered through in December killed it all off.

Crap . . .

Empty flower pot

I did a quick internet search on how to root rosemary, and read that it’s a good idea to scrape the outsides of the woody stems to encourage root growth. So I scraped the stems of most the rosemary, put it in water and placed it on a sunny spot over my kitchen sink. I also stuck a few unscraped stems in a small vase as an afterthought.


I’ve diligently replaced the water over that past month or so, but had yet to see any root growth. I did notice that there was a white scummy film that wanted to cover the stems. Kind of like an about-to-die guppy.


rosemary scum

I had a chicken to roast last night, so I decided to use the purely decorative rosemary as seasoning, and lo and behold the unscraped and completely ignored vase of rosemary was thick with root growth!

Hello, lover . . .

rosemary roots

So guess which rosemary became seasoning for my chicken?

roasted chicken seasonings

After I broke off the scummy bottom bits, of course.

I will go ahead and plant the rosemary after we’re past the frost season, which should be any minute now. I’ll keep you posted on whether I can keep it alive. Although the reason I wanted rosemary in the first place is because of how hard it is to kill. (Unlike guppies.)

Hooray for free and easy gardening!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Clara February 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Mmm, I love rosemary! It is very easy to grow, just don’t make the mistake of overwatering it. I have a pot of it that I bring indoors for the winter, and it just keeps going (it would never survive our -30 degree winters!) I think I’m going to try overwintering my thyme indoors next winter as well.


Cindi February 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Our rosemary plant outside has survived two polar vortexes, (vorti?), this winter…darn tootin they’re hard to kill!


Cindi February 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Our rosemary plant outside has survived two polar vortexes, (vorti?), this winter…darn tootin they’re hard to kill!


A. Marie February 19, 2014 at 2:14 pm

In my experience, rosemary is not all that easy to root from cuttings (and next to impossible to grow from seed), so I congratulate you on your success. In Portland’s climate, you shouldn’t have any trouble growing it outdoors. Here in the frozen North, it has to be overwintered indoors, as Clara notes. I’ve been luckier with thyme; although it usually only survives two or three seasons at most in our harsh climate, I’ve found a variety that re-seeds readily, so I just replace the casualties with fresh seedlings each spring.


marie February 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Yes, in portland Rosemary is kinda of weed, and hard to kill.
Since it has such good roots now, just till around in that porch pot, plunk him in, water and watch him grow.


Trish February 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

haha! I am a plant physiologist by training, and an avid gardener. I have to say, the less people know about plants the better off they seem to be. Dogwoods are supposed to need shade – I diligently planted mine on the east side, sheltered location. It died. I pass a house in town that has a glorious dogwood in full sun, in the middle of their yard. I kill more plants with my scientific knowledge than I care to reveal.


Jean February 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Find yourself a friend who grows oregano, and you will surely get some more free herb plants! I didn’t know what a thug this herb was until I planted it–it not only survives Missouri winters, but as I have to tear it out by half every spring, I give away the culling to everyone who will take them–and encourage them to grow it in a pot! If by some odd chance it doesn’t survive this particularly brutal winter, I will definitely be planting it in a pot next time!


Kristen February 20, 2014 at 6:59 am

Ooh, I haven’t tried growing oregano. I am sort of a pathetic gardener, so plants that are hard to kill are right up my alley.


LazyretirementgirlJackie February 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I am in the southern Rockies at 6700 feet and my oregano charges back every spring.


Diane February 20, 2014 at 4:36 am

You have given em the incentive to try this! I bought some rosemary recently in the produce section of my grocery store to make rosemary chicken. I’ll stick a piece in a small water filled vase and see if I can have success rooting it.



jennifer p February 20, 2014 at 10:00 am

i think you are the coolest.i get such a kick out of your blog.i would like to be more like you.frugal girls get to work on that book because i want to buy it.i know i should say i want to take it out at the library,but i want to buy it.greetings from snowy brooklyn , new york.


Joyce February 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm

I would love to be able to plant rosemary outside and have it over winter. I live in syracuse ,NY so I plant in pots and bring them inside for winter. I was unaware that you could root it though. New plan for spring. Thanks.


Kari S February 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm

I had no idea you could root rosemary in water. I’ve always used rooting hormone or layered it in soil. Water seems a lot easier.

I love growing herbs that can withstand my gardening style of “benign neglect”. The 4″ pot of rosemary I planted in the spring of 2007 is now about 5′ tall and 8′ wide. I’ve told my husband that if I disappear, he should search the rosemary. It has already eaten one rosebush, so it might come after me, too.


Liz February 21, 2014 at 7:32 pm

The one in the vase grew roots because it was in an opaque container. Roots need darkness to develop. They probably would have still developed had you scraped them.


Katy February 23, 2014 at 9:34 am

That’s what I figured.



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