Rosemary Care: How to Grow Rosemary in Pots and Containers

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that naturally thrives in soils with good drainage, in direct sunlight, and with little to no rainfall. It is crucial to attempt to imitate these circumstances if you want to produce rosemary successfully in pots and other containers.

Use a well-draining potting mixture of 30% grit and 70% compost to grow rosemary in pots. Grow rosemary in clay or terracotta pots that are 12 inches across and in full sun. Water the rosemary well every two weeks so that any extra water drips out the bottom of the pot.

Reference table for rosemary maintenance and growth:

Rosemary in Pots and Containers: How to Take Care of It:Requirements:
Vase Size:Select a pot with a minimum diameter of 12 inches and a depth that is appropriate.
Suitable Pot Type for Rosemary:The best materials are porous ones like clay, ceramic, or terracotta that dry uniformly.
Rosemary in pots: How Frequently to Water:If there hasn’t been much rain, give rosemary a good bath every two weeks in the spring and summer. In the Fall and Winter, avoid watering outdoor rosemary containers.
Adding Soil to a Rosemary Plant:Plant rosemary in potting soil that is 70% multipurpose compost and 30% horticultural sand or grit.
pH of soilThe pH range of typical multipurpose compost is in the growing range of optimal soil, which is 6.5-7.
Fertilizer:Avoid adding fertilizer since it is against the ideal conditions and will reduce the concentration of essential oils and the flavor and perfume of the leaves.
Rosemary Should Be Pruned When:Prune in the spring whenever there is a risk of frost through the middle of summer.
Tips for Pruning RosemaryTo encourage new growth and give the rosemary a bushy appearance, trim the top 4 inches or so (about the top third).
Warm Hardy:A minor frost won’t harm mature rosemary, but in cold climates you should protect it with horticultural fleece or bring the pot inside for the winter and put it in a window that gets enough of sunlight.
Winter CareKeep rosemary away from the cold. Bring potted rosemary inside and put it in a window with good light. If indoors during the winter, water once every four to six weeks with a deep soak.

Continue reading to find out how to grow and take care of rosemary in pots and containers to get the best tasting and most fragrant leaves possible. You’ll also learn about the best practices to follow to ensure that the potted rosemary survives the winter.

Best Pots and Containers for Rosemary

The finest containers for growing rosemary are those made of clay and terracotta. In order to prevent root rot, clay and terracotta have a porous structure that enables the potting soil to dry out more uniformly after watering. Terracotta and clay pots hold up better to the elements than plastic ones and do not heat up as quickly in the sun.

Mediterranean herbs like rosemary thrive on grittier, well-draining soil that doesn’t retain moisture around the roots.

While a Mediterranean environment is not necessary to grow rosemary, it is nevertheless crucial to mimic some of the conditions by allowing the soil to dry out evenly.

Instead of using plastic containers, which can retain too much moisture and increase the danger of root rot, choose a clay or terracotta pot to grow rosemary because the material is porous and allows the soil to dry out evenly.

Any rosemary pot or container must have drainage holes at the base to let excess water drain after watering and to allow the soil to dry out in between waterings, simulating the circumstances of the plant’s natural environment.

Pick a pot that is at least 12 inches wide if possible. This size pot guarantees that the rosemary’s roots will have enough space to spread out and that the soil in the pot will be sufficient to act as insulation for the rosemary’s roots (the roots are the most cold sensitive part of the rosemary).

To ensure that water can readily drain from the bottom of the pot after watering, it is essential to elevate your rosemary pot off the ground using feet or stones.

(Read my post on selecting the ideal pots for rosemary.)

Planting Rosemary in Pots and Containers

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that has evolved to grow on the sides of mountains in places like Spain where the soil is stony and well-draining.

In order for rosemary to produce leaves with the richest flavor and perfume, it is crucial to mimic these supposedly harsh Mediterranean soil conditions while growing it in pots and containers.

Plant rosemary in potting soil that is 70% compost and 30% horticultural sand or grit. Rosemary thrives in soils that are somewhat acidic (pH 6.5-7), have a high inorganic content, are aerated, have good drainage, and have a low level of fertility.

Although rosemary may thrive in a variety of soil types, the ideal pH range for it is 6.5-7, which is well within the range of most multipurpose compost and potting soils.

In order to replicate the soil drainage of the rosemary’s natural Mediterranean hillside setting and to guarantee that moisture efficiently drains away from the roots after watering to prevent root rot, add roughly 30% horticultural sand or grit (by volume of the pot) and 70% multipurpose compost.

If you live in an area with a lot of rain, I advise using extra sand and grit to mitigate the effects of the rain and maintain the ideal moisture balance for rosemary growth.

In order to ensure proper drainage, it is usually preferable to use too much grit rather than not enough.

The most frequent cause of rosemary death is root rot, which may be readily prevented by growing rosemary in pots with sufficient drainage and watering it at the proper intervals.

(Read my essay on how to save a rosemary plant from extinction.)

I advise covering the bottom of the pot or container with a layer of gravel of about an inch thick before placing your rosemary in it. This will prevent compacted soil from obstructing the drainage pores and promote proper drainage.

Rosemary Pot and Container Care- Watering

Give rosemary a good soak before planting it in pots or other containers, letting any extra water drip out the bottom. The most frequent cause of rosemary plant death is overwatering, so don’t water again until the top 4 inches of soil are completely dry.

Thoroughly watering rosemary enables the roots to expand and become well-established in the potting soil, which further boosts the rosemary’s drought resilience.

Only the top inch or two of the soil gets moist when you water too little, which leads the roots to grow close to the surface of the potting soil and decreases the rosemary’s growth and hardiness.

In order to raise the potted rosemary one inch above the ground, it is best to set it on feet.

This guarantees that water will flow freely from the drainage hole in the pot’s base, preventing a buildup of water that could encourage root rot.

How Often to Water Rosemary in Pots

How Often to Water Rosemary in Pots

Rosemary is a drought-resistant herb that grows best in potting soils with good drainage and needs less watering overall than most other plants.

If there hasn’t been any rain, water potted and containerized rosemary once a week throughout the hottest and driest weeks of the summer. Watering rosemary every two weeks is appropriate in cooler regions with cloudy weather. Never water again until the soil feels only slightly moist.

The rosemary does not need any further watering in the Fall and Winter in climates with mild Winters where you may keep potted rosemary outside because it is in a dormant state and can obtain the necessary moisture from the environment.

In order to protect rosemary from the cold in colder locations (or to protect it from frost, use horticultural fleece), it must be brought indoors. In this situation, rosemary should be well-watered every 4-6 weeks.

Since rosemary is dormant and more susceptible to root rot in the winter, it needs to be watered much less regularly.

Watering the rosemary once every four to six weeks provides the right mix between ensuring it has enough moisture to survive and preventing root rot.

(Read my article on how frequently to water sage.)

Potted Rosemary Care in Winter

Since rosemary is not cold-hardy, potted plants should be brought indoors during the winter in regions with below-freezing temperatures, or they can be covered with horticultural fleece. To keep potted rosemary from drying out completely, place the pot in as much sunlight as you can and water it every 4-6 weeks.

The Mediterranean herb rosemary can withstand cold temperatures up to USDA zone 6 and has evolved to life in regions with moderate winters without frost.

Some varieties of rosemary may withstand minor frost, but if you want to guarantee their survival during the Winter, either bring the pot inside and plant it in a sunny window or use horticultural fleece to insulate the rosemary at night.

Larger pots and well-draining soil are more crucial in colder climates. More dirt can fit into a larger pot, providing insulation for the roots’ sensitive to the cold.

Since wet soil from cold temperatures often remain moist for a long period, rosemary is most at danger of developing root rot in the winter (which promote the conditions for root rot and fungal diseases to thrive).

It is essential to add a lot of grit in the potting mix if you reside in a cooler area with heavier rainfall in order to boost soil aeration and improve drainage.

Grit is the ideal soil amendment for growing rosemary and preventing damp circumstances in the winter because it does not retain moisture in the same way that organic material does.

Where to Grow Rosemary in Pots and Containers

In its native Mediterranean region, where it thrives in full sun, rosemary is most frequently found growing on slopes.

Place your potted rosemary in a location in your yard that receives full light for at least six hours each day and has some air movement around the plant. The concentration of essential oils in the leaves of rosemary increases with more sunlight, enhancing flavor and scent.

Rosemary is produced for commercial purposes in hot, arid regions near the Mediterranean, where it may thrive under circumstances of intense sunlight, warm temperatures, and the occasional wind.

Without several hours of direct sunshine, rosemary tends to grow lanky and its leaves do not smell as strongly, do not bloom, and do not have the same culinary value.

As some airflow helps to dry the foliage after rain, above watering, and reduces humidity, it is best to avoid placing your potted rosemary in a corner or anywhere without an occasional breeze. This will assist to prevent fungal disease.

(Read my articles to learn why my thyme is becoming yellow, brown, or black.)

How and When to Prune Rosemary– Pots and Container Care

Anytime throughout the Spring, once the risk of frost has passed, and anytime during the Summer, prune rosemary. Pruning should be avoided in the fall because it encourages new growth, which is more susceptible to frost damage.

It’s a good idea to prune your rosemary to foster new growth and a bushier, more fruitful, rounder shrub.

Pruning is very easy; all you have to do is use a sharp pair of pruners to trim off the top third or third or fourth of the plant’s growth. This promotes the newer growth, which contains the leaves with the higher concentration of essential compounds that give rosemary its distinctive flavor and aroma.

As long as you prune in the spring or summer, you can cut your rosemary as and when you need it for cooking. Try cutting some rosemary in the summer and storing it; rosemary keeps its flavor when defrosted for cooking, so you may enjoy the flavor all year round.


Where does rosemary grow best?

Being a native of the Mediterranean, rosemary should preferably be planted in a sunny, protected location. Perhaps surprisingly, rosemary is remarkably resistant to frost. However, the plants do require well-draining soil; they are not likely to flourish in dense clay or soggy land.

What container is best for rosemary?

The most ideal containers for growing rosemary are clay and terracotta pots that are at least 12 inches across. They do not heat up as rapidly in the summer compared to plastic or metal pots, and they offer better protection from frost in the winter since clay and terracotta are porous and allow the soil to dry after watering.

Does rosemary do well in containers?

Rosemary thrives in a sunny location with sharply draining soil. Make sure there aren’t any nearby larger trees or plants that will shadow the rosemary. If given adequate light, rosemary can also flourish indoors or outdoors in containers.

How deep of a container does rosemary need?

Deep: 10 to 12 inches

Does rosemary come back every year?

Since rosemary is a perennial herb, it will keep growing in containers year after year. Plants in pots could be the outcome of this. A rosemary plant in a pot will gradually grow less new growth and become extremely woody.