A sun-loving shrub whose scent evokes the Mediterranean, rosemary has needle-like leaves that can be picked all year round. Fresh or dried leaves can be used to flavour meat, soups and many other dishes, while sprigs steeped in olive oil give it a distinctive flavour. Tea made by infusing chopped leaves in boiling water is said to help digestion.


Month by month


Rosemary is best started in the spring from ready-grown plants. Plant in a sunny, sheltered position in well-drained soil – plants hate wet roots in winter. Alternatively grow in 30-60cm containers filled with soil-based or multi-purpose compost.


Plants are fairly drought-tolerant, but water regularly during dry summers, especially if plants are grown in containers. Feed plants in containers with a balanced fertiliser after they have finished flowering.

It can be a good idea to give your plants some protection in hard winters and in particularly cold areas. Protect container-grown plants by raising onto pot feet. Apply a thick mulch around plants in the ground and cover the branches with sheets of horticultural fleece.

To keep plants compact, cut back stems after the blooms start to fade or plants will become leggy.

Common problems

Frost damage
Frost damage

Late frosts can damage growth, leading to it dying or being distorted.


Remove any damaged growth and protect the bed with a double layer of horticultural fleece if frost is forecast.

More info on Frost damage

Scale insects
Scale insects

Small yellow hemispherical scales appear on the leaf underside and along the midrib. They suck sap and secrete honeydew which encourages sooty mould.


Use biological controls in the greenhouse.

More info on Scale insects

Rosemary beetle
Rosemary beetle

Both the small oval beetle with metallic green and purple stripes, and its greyish white larvae are a problem. The pest can be found in great numbers on plants, where it will quickly strip stems of leaves.


Check plants regularly and pick beetles off by hand.

More info on Rosemary beetle


Remove shoots carefully as required, aiming to keep an attractive shape. Leaves can be used fresh or dried.


'Lady in White':Pretty white flowers.

Majorca Pink:Tall shrub with columnar habit and pink blooms.

McConnells Blue AGM:Compact habit and blue flowers.

Miss Jessopps Upright AGM:A tall plant with an upright habit and blue flowers.

Prostratus Group:A prostrate form that is ideal in a pot or cascading over a wall.

Buy rosemary

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.