HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS FROM ROSEMARY



Rosemary is one of those plants that not only smells good, it tastes good and looks good too. When I say taste, I mean as a flavoursome herb so don’t start chomping on a random stem and expect it to fill you with culinary delights – because it won’t!

Be that as it may, rosemary plants are fantastically popular and are often found in gardens as a specimen shrub or informal hedging. Its Latin name, Rosmarinus officinalis, means "dew of the sea" and while rosemary is most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking you don't need perfect sunshine, or a sea mist to successfully grow rosemary.

How to propagate Rosemary from cuttings

The best time to take cuttings from Rosemary is when the new shoots begin to emerge. Mid to late June is normally the best time. Select a healthy looking plant with lots of new growth on it. If you can, take your cuttings early in the day. Using a sterilised sharp blade or secateurs, snip off non-flowering sections of new growth 10cm - 15cm long. To reduce moisture loss, remove most of the lower leaves so you have a clean length of stem and place them in a plastic bag. Seal it and keep it in a shaded spot to prevent wilting until you are ready to root the cuttings.

Using porous terracotta pots fill with a good quality cutting compost such as John Innes ‘Seed and Cutting’. However, I would recommend improving the drainage by mixing in horticultural grit or perlite at a ratio of 2:1 compost to drainage improver.

Once again, using a sharp sterilised knife, take 7.5cm (3in) cuttings from young shoots either just below a leaf joint or torn off at the stem. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting in order to help reduce water loss.

At this point you can dip the stem ends in hormone rooting powder to speed up the rooting process, but this isn't really necessary. The rosemary cuttings can now be inserted around the edge of the pot – if the pot is big enough – leaving a 1 ½ inch gap between each cutting. Alternatively – if your pots are on the small side – plant the cuttings individually.

Water the cuttings from below and allow the compost to settle around their stems. Place pots in a cold frame in a sheltered, shaded area, indoors in a propagator or simply cover with a plastic bag to retain the moisture. Just make sure that the sides of the bag are not touching any of the plant material.

After a few weeks, gently invert pots and check for signs of root development. Mist over foliage and ensure the compost stays on the moist side. Once new growth begins to appear all covers can be removed. Allow the soil to dry out between watering but don’t allow the compost to stay dry for extended periods and do not allow the compost to become waterlogged.

Once the rosemary cuttings have a good root system, gently tease the cuttings apart and pot up individually into a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No. 2.

Keep plants watered and pot them on again as they get larger and the roots fill their container. They should be big enough to plant out in the following spring.

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