Germinating rosemary?!?

upforachallenge(z3 MT)November 20, 2005


I'm having a really hard time getting my rosemary to germinate. All my other seedlings are up and running and I've only got one rosemary poking out from about 18 seeds planted. This is my second try and the last time I only got one also. The room where I've been doing my germinating has been running ~70 degrees F. Is it possible that this is too hot for rosemary?

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Robin282(z7 SE MA Coast)

Hi There,
I saw your post title "Germinating rosemary?!?" and then I saw your screen name "Upforachallenge", and I smiled--since the two go hand in hand.

I am no expert, but I have attempted Rosemary from seed. After reading up on it (thinking I was a total failure at my first attempt), I learned that Rosemary seed viability is quite low (5%). You are right on target with 1 out of 17. The second time I tried to do it, I lost patience, and put them on my back stairs outside and forgot about them. I know they were fairly dry at times.

I swear they did better with the mal-treatment. I got 3 sprouts, got excited, started to water and look after them, and promptly killed them.

I haven't given up, and I am going to try again. I would love to e-mail with you on our progress if you would like. I am also looking forward to the other responses you get here.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 7:03PM
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I planted some last week,just sprinkled 8 seeds on top of soil in a pot and covered lightly with soil.This week there are 8 seedlings coming up.I put them under lights in my basement,where it is about 60 degrees.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 9:40PM
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upforachallenge(z3 MT)

Robin, now I am the one laughing because I did the same thing. After my ONE seed sprouted, I waited awhile and then out of frustration just tossed the container off to the side and kind of forgot about it. After about a week, with no water, no attention whatsoever, two had sprouted up. I promptly watered them and they wilted a few days later. I just read that they need constant temps of 60-65F, preferably 65F and once the seedlings have emerged to let the soil completely dry out. I also read that people have great luck with growing from cuttings, which I have never tried. I'll keep you posted on my one success so far.

MollyZone5- I'm envious, I'm assuming you kept the soil moist throughout germination?? Did you cover the pot with anything during germination?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 11:30PM
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Yes,I just kept the soil moist,no cover,just under the lights.These seeds I have had for a few years.I planted the 8 of them just to see if the seeds where stll good.If these grow on I will grow them into topiarys.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 9:13AM
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beth_b_kodiak(zone 5a)

Well, I am glad I found this thread. I have tried twice with Rosemary seeds from two different seed co's. So far just one very scrawny seedling. I'd like to hear updates from you but meanwhile I'll keep trying. BB

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 10:59PM
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little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

Been there, done that!

Cuttings is definitely the easy way out for rosemary. Stick one cutting, get one plant. Works for me!


    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 9:07AM
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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

I gave up on my Rosemary too. I read they needed prechilling so I took the flats which hadn't germinated in 2 weeks, stuck 'em in the fridge for 2 weeks, back under the lights for 2 more weeks and then in the trash!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 2:12PM
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Years ago I took a few cuttings from my neighbors plant and now have several plants around the place. If you don't want to fiddle with seeds and have no source for cuttings most nurseries have 2 inch potted plants in the herb section. Al

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 9:12PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

A couple of years ago, I ran into a package of rosemary seeds that claimed to have excellent germination. It did, and I ended up with about 30 baby rosemary plants. Gave most of them away, but I still have two of them.

The seed came from one of the better known boutique seed companies, but I don't remember which one. It was well labelled about easy germination.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 4:15PM
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princesskatja(8 WA)

I had decent luck with the rosemary seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds. Of course, your mileage may vary...

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 5:33PM
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Does one need to use root-tone to grow rosemary from cuttings? -curious

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 8:56PM
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Rosemary will root with or without hormone. Al

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 10:06AM
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lindakay(zone 5)

I didn't know till I read this post that they were hard to germinate. I planted some a couple of weeks ago and figured I would be lucky if they sprouted because they are really wet. I did get lucky because I now have eight that came up. But my T&M coleus hasn't come up and the wall-mart ones that I planted the same day has been up for days. Why am I not surprised.Good luck on your rosemary. Linda

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 6:03PM
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I had great luck germinating them,back in Nov.Here we are mid March and my plants are still really small.Hopefully they start to grow more when they get planted out.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 8:38AM
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thumbless71(WA Aust)

What is the best way to grow rosemary from cuttings? How long should the cutting be and what medium is best? I need to grow 30 separate bushes to form a hedge and there is no way I am paying the prices on offer. Can I grow them directly into the spot I have chosen? I ask a lot I know. Thanks for any replies

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 8:37AM
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We just started out Rosemary yesterday. We have pretty good luck with primed rosemary seeds from Johnney's Selected Seeds. About a 50%germination rate, note bad for Rosemary.
Germination temp for rosey should be between 50-55F. They need light.
We transplant ours to 4" pots and sell them at the Farmers Market. Hope you had good luck in Nov. We do well in March.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 9:42AM
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robins_inthe_garden(Z5 Upper NYS)

Rosemary is an herb in the labiatae (mint) family. It's a tender perennial grayish green ornamental shrub 2-6 feet high with scaly bark (as it grows bigger.) It's foliage is needle-like and gray green in color. Flowers are small pale blue to pink clusters.

Direct seeding is not always successful. Start seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings out. Darkness will aid germination. Cover the seeds lightly with soil after sowing. Optimum soil temperature for germination is 60º Fahrenheit. Germination time is usually 14-21 days. Sow heavily because the seeds have a poor germination rate. Some seeds can germinate up to 3 months after sowing. Rosemary needs full sun to partial shade, and a well drained area. Water in between dry downs; do not use enclosed planters. Their roots dislike being cramped up.

You can take 4" cuttings from a plant and strip the lower leaves off & save those leaves for seasoning; then put the cuttings directly into a well drained spot to keep it from getting root rot. It is recommended to take 4" cuttings when harvesting-which can be done anytime of the year.

During the winter, temperatures must remain above 10º Fahrenheit for outdoor plants.

We bring our Rosemary indoors for the winter up here because it can be too cold for the plants to survive outdoors, -20º Fahrenheit up here. This herb needs particular care to survive the winter though. It's only hardy to Zone 7a; but you may be able to get away with it outdoors if you mulch the plant heavily. But I'd take some cuttings in for the winter too if I were you.

You'll need to transplant it carefully in to a large container so it has room to grow. The roots tend to be tough, (like the shrubs they are) 3-4 feet some times; so when digging up; dig wide and deep. Use a good household potting soil mix and organic compost (not too much if it is a moist variety --this will be too strong in a pot and may contribute to root rot). Make sure it is well drained, well watered and spray the leaves with water every so often, especially if you have the heat up in the winter.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 12:53AM
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Where are the seeds actually located on the Rosemary plant? I have a Rosemary flowering now and the flowers are falling of but the pods are still on, is this where the seed is located?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 9:38AM
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im just wondering??? if rosemary is kept in a 65-70 degree envorement and is lightly covered with soil after sowing will it die.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 7:09PM
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I read this thread a few weeks ago, and it made me plant a few more seeds to see if I could guarantee getting 1 shoot out of our rosemary seeds. Three weeks later, and there are 22 little shoots poking up through the soil!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 4:16AM
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Was wondering..... do the flowers actually produce seeds? If so, does anyone know the process for gathering, how long before planting, etc. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 9:53AM
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Looks like Rosemary does produce seeds. The seeds are in little bell-shaped pods where the flowers were - they're there, just look. I gather mine by placing a hand under the branch, then using the other hand to lightly brush the branch. Loose little caps should fall off by now.

As for getting them out, well I haven't figured that part out yet. I waited until they were really dry, then crushed them up in my hand & sifted the dry matter from the seeds.

I stumbled upon this website looking for information on making the seeds sprout, as this sounds like a fun little project now.



Here is a link that might be useful: My Blog, I'm keeping some gardening records here.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 7:04PM
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I was watching one of the PBS garden shows the other night and the were visiting a nursery that specializes in herbs. As they were touring around the owner pointed out the rosemary plants. (which were the same size as the other herbs potted up for selling). He mentioned they were three years old, compared to the 3 months that everything else was.

They are very slow - I thought I had patience! but not that much. I will definitely grow from cuttings if I want more.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 6:45AM
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My rosemary bloomed very well this year, and has seeds covering a couple of limbs, how do I harvest the seed? Do I let them dry on the plant or do I cut the limbs and let them dry in the house?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 7:59PM
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After some research, and the batch of rosemary, garlic, balsamic roasted red potato's the son's made, I decided to try to grow some rosemary. I've used a 50/50 mix of potting soil and sandbox sand. Kept them in the basement, cold and dark @ 10 days until I saw some seedlings. My package said it contained 85 seeds and I count @ 70 seedlings. My question is this, they seem to be growing at a rate that will see me collect social security before I can use any. Should I be fertilizing? I water them with a spray bottle to try to mimic the ocean spray. Any ideas?? Thanks 4 the help.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 6:05PM
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Casco as well as others ~ All of your questions appear to have been answered throughout this thread. I think, if you will read back through, you will find what you need. Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 11:51PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

And if you really want plants quicker use cuttings rather than seed. You can have a new plant in weeks rather than years.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 5:38AM
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Here's one for you. A couple of years ago we visited my son-in-law's grandmother's home. She had a rosemary bush 8" to 10" trunk diameter They had just cut it back & got a pickup truck load of rosemary but it was still about 5' tall. She said that she started that "tree" some years back with a sprig from a neighbor which she rooted by putting it in a glass of water until she saw roots & then planted it. It was in a raised bed. I so liked it that I bought the largest rosemary plant I could find, made a 3'x3' raised bed just for it. It is growing fine but heaven knows how long it will take it to get any size. I am going to prune off branches at the lowest point to help the trunk reach a greater diameter sooner. That tree was unbelievable!!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 3:45PM
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I just have to say that I planted 44 rosemary seeds and have 8 seedlings about and inch to an inch and a half tall. I had 14 of them germ, but I think some were a bit small when I put them under the light and they didn't make it. I am still pretty happy with 8. I did the primed rosemary from Swallowtail. They germ. in about a week. I might have to try again next year just to see if it was a fluke or something :).

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:50PM
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