Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a robust evergreen herb, which is excellent to use in the kitchen. Rosemary grows well in the ground or just as well inside your container gardens. One prerequisite is the amount of full sun it receives.
You can discover the herb isn’t particularly fussy over the type of soil you grow it in as long as it drains well. Rosemary is easy to care for and harvest.
Because of this, novice gardeners love to learn how to grow this herb, as nearly anyone can keep it growing!
In our guide, you can learn more than how to harvest rosemary, but how to care for it so you can harvest as you need it and it keeps growing. Once you get going, your rosemary plants will keep on giving so you can harvest fresh rosemary or make it dry rosemary for more extended use in your kitchen.
Can You Use Rosemary Straight from the Plant?
You will discover harvesting rosemary plant that are fresh means it keeps growing. Besides this, fresh from a rosemary bush is much easier to use than dry as the leaves are soft and easier to chop. Harvesting rosemary plants also offers a deeper flavor than dried leaves when cooking.
You can plant rosemary seeds right after the last spring frost as they’re quite cold, hardy, yet not overly tolerant. (Learn How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings)
How Do You Harvest Rosemary, So It Keeps Growing?
One of the best ways to keep rosemary growing is to take rosemary sprigs and propagate the plants from them. Here are the steps needed to grow rosemary through cuttings.
- Take some 4-5 inch sprigs of non-woody rosemary.
- Strip off the bottom 2/3rds of the leaves
- Plant the stem cuttings into pots.
Rosemary is an evergreen perennial and thrives in hardy zones 8 to 10. Rosemary grows in full sun and well-drained sandy potting soil. If the soil is slightly moist yet not too wet, you’ll have guaranteed success.
Once your plant establishes itself, you can harvest rosemary cuttings any time you desire for culinary use. You’ll discover the daily or weekly pruning leads to healthier plants.
If growing rosemary for drying, wait until the plant starts blooming. At this stage, it has the highest oil content and flavor. Trim the top 2 to 3 inches of each sprig, and leave green leaves. Also, the plant will need some recovery time before winter arrives.
How Do You Harvest Rosemary Without Killing the Plant?
One thing you need to understand is the growing conditions that lead to healthy plants. If you live in warmer regions, you’ll find the herb thrives well and offers lots of thick, vigorous growth, which can be suited to a new rock garden.
Growing rosemary can be low maintenance, yet you still have some growing requirements to take care of to grow rosemary properly.
Rosemary adapts to high temperature and humidity and can tolerate as low as 30 Fahrenheit. Lower than this, and you’ll need to bring your rosemary indoors.
Full sun is best for, and it likes at least 6 hours a day, whether grown indoors or outdoors. Indoors, you may need artificial light to make up any shortfall.
Rosemary thrives in loamy, well-drained soil and a pH of 6 to 7. It can tolerate poor soil yet could still appreciate fertilizer to aid vigorous growth.
Watering rosemary isn’t necessary too often. Only water when the soil has completely dried, and make sure not to over-water it.
Rosemary can grow into a huge, thick plant, particularly in warmer areas, and you should allocate about 3 feet of space between your rosemary plants for growth and no fear of overcrowding.
Plant rosemary in a container, and you have full control over the spacing or moving of your plants before the first frost arrives. (Read Spots on Tomato Plant Leaves)
Rosemary is also proven to be a good companion plant for broccoli, beans, cabbages, carrots, and hot peppers since rosemary help repel pests.
To get the most from your rosemary plant, take your first harvest during the spring and summer growing season when temperatures are high, and rosemary grow at the most active state.
During the season, rosemary grows fast, so the sprigs you harvest immediately give new growth. You can spot when your rosemary is ready to harvest when some of its branches are 8 inches high. Branches less than 8 inches should be left to mature.
How Do You Harvest and Store Rosemary?
Rosemary tolerates single and heavy harvesting if you do it correctly. Harvest rosemary at the most active of spring and summer and only pick branches 8 inches tall or above.
Use garden shears, and cut tender, top portions of rosemary. Don’t cut any hard and woody stems at the base of the plant. (Learn How to Grow Green Onions from Cuttings)
Please leave 3/4 of the plant so it will continue to grow. As rosemary is a fast, vigorous grower, you can trim your rosemary to keep the compact shape. It is advised to grow several plants so you can keep picking rather than using one entire plant.
Storing and Using
During the summer, your garden will be filled with fresh rosemary, so harvesting all the time won’t be an issue. It would help if you planned, ready for the winter months, and you can’t grow rosemary.
Store in the refrigerator
- If you don’t wash rosemary, then dry it properly before storing it in the refrigerator; it gets slimy.
- To save the rosemary drying out in the fridge, wrap in a damp paper towel
- Place the rosemary in a Ziplock bag or airtight jar
- Place inside the crisper drawer.
You can extend the herb’s freshness by storing it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- On a baking sheet, spread the rosemary sprigs flat without overcrowding. Freeze rosemary for a couple of hours and check sprigs each hour to see if they’re frozen.
- Place the rosemary in a Ziplock bag once frozen.
- Put your rosemary back in the freezer, and by doing this, you can keep your rosemary fresh for several months to a year.
- Remove leaves, to 1 to 2 inches, from the bottom of the rosemary stem.
- Gather all your sprigs and tie altogether the bottom part from where you removed the leaves.
- Hang your rosemary in a dark, clean space. Typically, a basement or room where sunlight can’t reach is often best for drying rosemary.
- Check your rosemary frequently to see if it’s dried. Run your fingers through dried rosemary, and when it falls like flakes, it’s ready to use.
- Rinse rosemary in cold water, then lay flat on a clean towel.
- Let it air dry for 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. Baking damp rosemary takes a lot longer as there is more moisture to dry.
- Lay air-dried rosemary on a cookie sheet and leave space between the sprigs.
- Set the oven to the lowest temperature and slow bake to avoid burning.
- Bake rosemary for 30 minutes and after the first 15 minutes, open the door to let moisture escape.
- After 30 minutes, check the leaves flake when crumbled. If not, bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once done, put the dried rosemary in an airtight container.
Rosemary Ice Cubes
Freeze rosemary in an ice cube tray. All you need to do is strip the leaves off rosemary sprigs and freeze them in olive oil or water in an ice cube tray. Use the cubes to get a fresh rosemary taste in your recipes.
Check how much rosemary a recipe may use and add that amount to each cube. Once rosemary is frozen, you can empty the ice cube tray and keep the cubes in an airtight container or plastic bag in the freezer. (Learn How to Grow a Magnolia Tree from a Cutting)
Rosemary stored in the freezer lasts indefinitely, yet you can make more if it loses its flavor.
Preserve Fresh Herbs
Take your fresh rosemary and add it to a bottle of olive oil or a bottle of vinegar. Wash and completely dry harvested rosemary sprigs and put the rosemary inside your vinegar, such as white or balsamic, or even olive oil to infuse the best flavor.
Rosemary oil or vinegar lasts if you keep the rosemary covered by the oil or vinegar and is a great way to give a mild flavor to salad dressings from the aromatic leaves.
If it is exposed to the air, it can go moldy. Place the bottle on the windowsill for about two weeks and shake to mix the flavors.
Once you start growing fresh herbs, you’ll find there is no real last harvest time when to harvest rosemary. So long as you use the best of the summer and bring your container inside to survive winter.
You can then use them in as many dishes as you desire in cold winters. There is no reason to do without the taste of fresh rosemary in the colder months using the above or any other methods you can find.