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How to Grow Rosemary from Seed

Rosemary is a wonderful herb that is popular as both a garden herb and a culinary favorite. Unfortunately for those who live in the cooler zones (zone 6 and lower), rosemary is not winter hardy so it has to be treated as an annual or you have to bring the herb inside for the winter and try to keep it alive - which is not easy.

For those who have problems keeping rosemary alive from one year to the next, and those who like to have lots of rosemary in the garden, growing the rosemary from seed each year is a practical option.

The seed takes a while to germinate so you need to start it about three months before the warm weather arrives.  Place the seed onto a well drained base such as sand, vermiculite or very light potting mix. Cover the seed with a little more mix, water lightly and place the container in a warm location or onto a heat mat. Cover the container with plastic wrap until you see the seeds starting to emerge. As soon as you see the tiny rosemary plants starting to grow, it is important to give them a good light source and a warm environment. Do not expect germination of all the seeds as rosemary has a much lower germination rate than some other popular herbs such as basil.

Allow the rosemary to grow inside or in a sheltered area outside, until they are about 3 inches high and sturdy enough to handle. If the weather is warm outside, the seedlings can be put into the garden where they will continue to grow. Alternately, pot the seedlings into larger pots so that you do not have to disturb them if you want to bring them indoors for next winter. Use pots with several small rosemary plants to make rosemary topiaries. The small plants can easily be trained onto a hoop or other shape.

In warmer areas, zone 7 and above, your rosemary plants will be large enough to survive outside and give you pretty blue flowers early next year. Rosemary that is brought indoors will also flower in late winter to give you some winter interest when you really need it.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • At Christmastime, decorate your tree with colorful seed packets. They make charming and fun ornaments for garden lovers. Collect the most colorful and attractive Burpee seed packets from year to year and add them to your collection.

    To make the ornament, use a scissors and cut off the open flap at the top of the packet. Then, use a punch hole to make a hole at the top of the packet. Tie a piece of colorful ribbon, bit of lace, raffia, or twine through the hole.

    To make a simple yet very pretty garden theme tree, hang up a few dozen seed packets and add sprigs of dried flowers (hydrangeas, gomphrena, cockscomb and statice work well), branches of holly, pepper berry, and a few long garlands of cranberries around the tree. Paste several photos of your garden onto colorful construction paper and hang them up too. The seed tree will also remind you it’s time to order new seeds for next season!