Real Men Sow

Is My Rosemary Bush Finally Growing Up?


I’ve always been confused by my little rosemary bush. For a plant that is supposed to be very fast growing, this particular specimen has been dragging its heels somewhat.

I’m not a particularly speedy fellow myself, so I’ve never given my rosemary any grief over this, but I think this year we’ve seen a breakthrough. Over two years after I took cuttings from a big old plant in my father-in-law’s garden, my rosemary appears to be growing up.

More Sun and Better Drainage
I moved the plant in Spring 2012 from my old garden to my new one, and at first I didn’t think this helped progress. However, rosemary likes full sun, and it gets that in my new garden. At my old house, the back garden was north facing, but now the rosemary gets sun all day. I think this has made a big difference.

Drainage also helps where rosemary is concerned, and this element is much better in the new garden too. Now, the plant sits in a patio herb garden where the soil is never heavy.

Why Are the Other Herbs Faster??
In fact, all my herbs seem to be doing better here than they ever did in my old garden. Sage, fennel, lemon balm and marjoram have gone nuts in a short time, and this year’s planting of chamomile and oregano have established with ease.

Trouble is, this has often only added to my confusion. Why have all the other herb plants become positively jungleistic whilst my rosemary plods along at its own, much slower, pace?

Finally On the Right Road to Rosemary Success?
After advice, I have tried to take a fairly conservative stance on watering the rosemary. I was told rosemary quite likes a dry existence, so have let the rain do the work in all but the very driest periods. The plant has received a spring and midsummer mulch too, using some lovely leaf mould that I’ve got hold of recently.

My rosemary is only about 50cm high now, but this herb can grow up to 3 metres high and wide. The original cuttings were from a plant of this size, so I’m hoping that this one will turn out big and bushy too. That is some way off, but finally I think we’re on the right road.

Now the plant is taking off, the next job is trying to shape it. I’m not all that adept or confident at pruning and shaping, but given the small patio space that my rosemary occupies, I need to make sure it doesn’t dominate the bed.

The plant is next to a pathway out onto the lawn, so I’d like to make a shape that’s just big enough to be brushed as you walk past. This releases the beautiful rosemary smell, especially when damp.

Given my rosemary’s sluggish history I’m not holding my breath as I wait for that stage, but secretly I’m crossing fingers that next year this promising little plant will blossom into a proper grown up…


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  1. GemSeptember 17, 2013 at 11:13 amReply

    My rosemary is the same. It didn’t like being transplanted too much. I moved it in summer, so perhaps it went into shock.

    Rosemary is Mediterranean herb, historically known to grow on rocky cliffs etc. It doesn’t like extra fertiliser or require extra compost. So maybe your rosemary has had too much attentiveness?

  2. Jono

    JonoSeptember 17, 2013 at 7:52 pmReplyAuthor

    Hey Gem,

    I’ve just been doing some reading and yes, you’re dead right about the fertiliser etc. Maybe I need to be a bit more aloof with it!

  3. GemSeptember 18, 2013 at 8:48 amReply

    When it finally gets to the shaping size, I’ll be super impressed if you do some topiary on it. Maybe a rosemary kangaroo? :)

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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