It’s easy to grow rosemary and other plants from cuttings with the simple steps outlined in this video. All you need is a mother plant, or a plant from which to take cuttings, plenty of moisture, and a place that’s warm but out of the sun for them to take root.
The method I’m using here is for soft wood cuttings, which are best taken in the spring once new growth has developed. The process for hard wood and leaf cuttings are basically the same, with each you want to be sure you’re making your cut just below a branching point. This is typically right below where either a leaf is sprouting (below the petiole or leaf stem), but it can also be at the base of a new stem. This is where there the plant has special tissue containing cells designed to grow. When you prune above these points, it encourages leaf and stem growth, and when pruning below these points, plants have an amazing way of growing roots (thanks to meristematic tissue, see Grow Plants for Free: How to Propagate Rosemary From Cuttings for more details).
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- Make a clean cut using a sharp knife or clippers about 4 to 6 inches down from the tip of a soft, new branch. With rosemary, this can be at any point because the leaves grow so closely to one another, but with other herbs and plants be sure to make your cut just below a branching point or leaf petiole.
- Remove the lower leaves. You can clip or pinch them off or, with rosemary, they easily come free by running your fingers down the branch.
- It’s possible to root cuttings in water, just make sure to change the water daily so bacteria doesn’t have a chance to build up. Put a drop or two of liquid seaweed into the water to give your cuttings a boost, and/or dip freshly pruned cuttings in liquid seaweed before submerging. However, I find I have better success and stronger root growth when rooting cuttings in a 50/50 mix of vermiculite and perlite.
- When growing cuttings in vermiculite and perlite, make a pocket for the leafless end of the cutting and then tuck the mixture in around the bare stem. Press in and around the surface to make sure the stem has good contact with the mixture, and water well.
- If your house or area where you’re growing your cuttings is drafty and cool, place a make-shift greenhouse over cuttings to trap in warmth and moisture. Just make sure to check on cuttings in case too much moisture builds up, which can cause cuttings to become moldy. Remove the “greenhouse” allowing the plants to ventilate as needed.
- Make sure the growing medium stays evenly moist — which is easy when using vermiculite and perlite — during the entire rooting process.
- Check your cuttings in about 3 to 4 weeks to see if roots are taking shape. Dig down with your finger and take a look or give your cuttings a gentle tug test. (The tug test is often not recommended by many for fear you could damage new, emerging roots but I’ve never had this problem. Just don’t yank on your plants and they’ll be fine.) If you feel resistance, there’s a good chance roots have formed and cuttings are ready for transplanting.
Once you’re cuttings have rooted, pot them up into larger containers with potting soil, or place them out in the garden. It won’t take long before you’re harvesting from garden-to-table!
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