How to take a Rosemary cutting
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Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that is commonly used as a culinary herb in Mediterranean dishes. It’s Latin name is Rosmarinus officinalis and there are many varieties which include trailing, sprawling types such as ‘Prostratus’, these are ideal for patio pots as well as compact bushy varieties that are often used as formal hedging and wall shrubs and is very easy to grow.
The leaves have an aromatic fragrance and beautiful small, usually blue or white flowers from spring and summer.
If you want to propagate these beautiful herb plants, they are very easy to propagate. The easiest way to do this is by taking a cutting as they do not usually come true to variety when grow from seed.
To grow a cutting you will need the following:
- Seed and cutting compost that is mixed with horticultural grit (mix together 50/50 to form a well drained compost).
- Sharp, clean secateurs or a sharp knife.
- A pot to plant the cutting into or a modules tray (a tray with individual compartments to plant each individual cutting).
- Rooting powder (to help them produce roots).
- Plastic bag or propagator.
The best time to take a cutting is before they flower in the spring. This is when there is plenty of new growth to take the cutting from. Choose new, healthy growth and snip off the ends so that they are around 15cm long. Store them in a bag with some water in or alternatively put the cutting into a cup of water until you are ready to plant the cutting. Ideally you want to take the cutting when you are ready to plant them for the best chance of success.
- First fill your pot or seed module cell tray with the compost you have mixed. This should be 50% potting compost and 50% grit sand, ensure it is mixed well and create some small holes ready for the cuttings to be inserted into.
- Now you take the fresh cutting and cut it just below a leaf node (where the leaves grow) and remove all the leaves off the bottom half of the cutting leaving just the stem. You want to be left with a cutting that is approximately 10cm tall with a nice clean cut at the bottom of the cutting.
- Next dip the cutting into rooting hormone powder and then place the cutting into the pre-made holes in the pot or trays.
- Water well to settle the compost around the cutting and place the cutting in a light place but not in direct sunlight.
A little trick is the place a few canes into the pot and place a clear plastic bag over the pot and the canes will stop the bag touching the cutting. If you planted modules cell trays or have a propagator which has a cover then simply place inside.
The earlier you take cutting the sooner they should root, if cuttings are taken in spring then they usually take 3-6 weeks to root. Cuttings taken in summer will usually be ready in the following spring.
Once the rosemary cuttings have good root systems then pot the cutting on into a larger pot, 9cm is usually about about the right size and grow on. They should be ready in late summer to plant out but if not don’t worry, plant out the following spring.
- Keep the cutting watered and do not allow to dry out.
- Once they have taken root, Rosemary don’t need too much water and prefer dryer soil. Keep watered but allow compost to become dry before watering again.
- Once the cutting had been potted on, pinch out the tips of the cutting to encourage plants to bush.
- Plant in full sun in well-drained soil.
It is not essential to prune Rosemary but we recommend that you prune every year after flowering in summer by simply trimming around two to three inches of the current years growth off. This will keep plants compact and healthy and stop them getting overgrown.
If you have an overgrown plant that has become woody, then a hard pruning can rejuvenate it. We recommend only pruning up to one third of the bush in spring and then prune again by another third in summer when there is new growth from where you have previously pruned it to.