Why Your Rosemary Is Drooping

Last Updated on November 1, 2022 by Stephanie

The rose is a drought-tolerant plant, so the reason that the rosemarys drooping appears to be likely to be a sign of stress caused by over-watering and slow drainage soils, rather than under watering. Rosemary may also display an appearance of drooping due to transplant shock or nitrogen-rich soils.

Potted rosemary may droop because of a insufficient water supply when it is grown in containers or pots that arent big enough and thus dont have enough capacity to hold enough soil to allow the roots to not absorb moisture until the soil is dry.

Continue reading to find out the reason your rosemary is falling and how to fix the issue…

Transplant Shock Causes Drooping Rosemary

One of the main reasons that rosemary droops after plantation is due to transplant shock.

This is due to an important contrast between the conditions at the garden center where you purchased the rosemary, and the conditions that your yard is in.

It could be caused by the variation in humidity or the suns heat, watering soil conditions, or any other factor that could cause the rosemary to shrink in response to stress from changes in the environment.


The most effective way to combat the drooping of rosemary that is caused from transplant-related shock, is to create the ideal conditions for the growth of rosemary by mimicking the conditions for growth of rosemarys natural environment within the Mediterranean region of Europe.

This means that you must grow rosemary where:

  • Full sun (more than six hours each day)
  • Find the rosemary in the area of the garden that has adequate airflow
  • The rosemary can be planted in compost which has been amended with the grit or sand of horticulture (roughly 20 percent sand and 80 percent compost)
  • Dont overwater since rosemary likes draining soil that is able to dry out between watering sessions.

The rosemary is a drought-resistant plant after the roots have been established, but its more susceptible to drought after planting, and that is the reason it needs greater care and attention in order to prevent drooping.

It is recommended to plant rosemary in the spring as it gives the rosemarys roots the chance to grow in the soils new conditions and get access to water prior to having to deal with the scorching sun during the summer.

If youve planted rosemary in the summer, it is essential to water the plant with care as the root system is establishing itself to the new surroundings to prevent the plant from falling.

The newly planted rosemary should be watered approximately every week for the first month following the planting. This will allow you to find the right balance between watering to ensure that the plant gets sufficient moisture, but not overwatering that could cause it to cause the rosemary to drop because of the sensitivity to moisture.

Potted rosemary requires more watering than rosemary that is planted in the ground to lessen transplant shock and avoid the appearance of drooping because of the pots more favorable drainage conditions. So, you should water it as often as three times per week during the first month following the planting, if it is dry and hot.

After a month , you can reduce the amount of frequency of watering to once a week, with a good soak every time, which helps the roots to grow and improves the plants tolerance to drought.

rosemary close up

If you can reproduce some of the growing conditions that the rosemary has in its native Mediterranean environment, then rosemary has the greatest chance of regaining its strength from any transplant shock that could cause it to shrink.

Check out this video to learn the best way to transfer rosemary

Damp Soils Cause Rosemary to Droop

Another reason that rosemary can drop is due to over irrigation slow draining soils, or frequent rainfall that cause too much liquid around roots, which results in the rosemary becoming stressed and to droop.

The herb is a natural plant that grows on hillsides in sandy soils that drain well. The region of Southern France (where rosemary is the most common), the climate is sunny and hot with dry temperatures and frequent rain, with mild winters, all of which result in roses growing on soils that let the roots dry in between periods of rain or watering.

A lot of water around the rosemarys roots can cause the plant to shrink in appearance, which is an indication of stress. The damp soils dont just cause the rosemary to droop but also increase the incidence of fungal illnesses as well as root rot.

If the rosemary leaves are becoming brown, black or yellow, it could be due to fungal diseases. (Read my post on ways to bring back the declining rosemary plant).


  • Reduce the amount of watering for rosemary to every two weeks in hot weather if they are planted in soil of the garden. Do not water for a few days if theres been an excessive amount of rain or a lot of sunny days, and the soil is still damp.
  • In pots and containers every two weeks from spring to the end of September. Give them an adequate soak to ensure that the water dribbles out of the bottom of the pots as they get dry faster than the soil in the garden.
  • If your garden soil is not draining well (such like clay-based soils) or is boggy and low lying, then you should plant or transplant rosemary pots so you can manage the soil conditions and improve drainage. Pots provide better drainage, which is what rosemary likes.

In terms of heavy rainfall, rosemary is able to grow in moist climates like the Pacific Northwest or the UK provided that the soil is amended by sand or grit prior to planting to improve the drainage.

If youre just plant or transplanting rosemary, then I would suggest amending the soil to ensure that the hole or pot within the soil contains at minimum 20% sand or gritty to 80% compost or the potting soil.

A lot of sand or grit is better than inadequate because slow draining soils make the rosemary droop while well-drained soils provide the ideal environment for the rosemary. In the Mediterranean certain rosemary plants thrive and flourish in soil that is mostly made of sand.

If you plan to plant rosemary in pots, I suggest Terracotta pots since they permit drainage more than ceramic or plastic pots that retain water, even when drainage holes are in the base.

If you have the right mix of irrigation and draining soils, rosemary will recover from its drooping appearance and flourish for a long time (as as long as its kept warm).

Too much Nitrogen causes Rosemary to droop

The appearance of drooping roses can be the result of a high levels of nitrogen within the soil.

Every plant needs nitrogen to development, however excessive nitrogen can create more harm than beneficial when you grow rosemary.

Rosemary is a natural habitat in hillsides with well-draining sandy or stone soil (which dont hold many nutrients or water) and has been specifically developed to grow in low to medium nutrients soils.

When the rosemary plant is placed in very abundant compost (particularly when the area of planting is amended with manure that is rich in nitrogen) it may droop, which is an indication of stress.

Drooping of the leaves of rosemary is frequent if youve applied an herbicide that has a high concentration of nitrogen.

The symptoms of the rosemary plant that grows in soil that is nitrogen-rich (or with fertilizer added) are:

  • The appearance of drooping stems and leaves.
  • Leaves are turning a bit yellow.
  • A lot of the growth is soft and sappy (which makes it more prone to insects).
  • A lot of foliage growth, with an aroma that is less strong and with less flowers in the summer.

The herb is not a requirement for fertilizers because of its preference for medium to low nutrients soils. However, the semi-strength general NPK fertilizer that is applied in the spring will help to stimulate growth in rosemary that has been planted in pots for many years and has used up all the nutrients in the soil.


The most effective way to handle a rosemary that is drooping in appearance is to stop the application of fertilizer. The rosemary will recover because it thrives on inattention to treatment, not too much attention.

It is nevertheless recommended to make sure the rosemary is getting full sun and has adequate airflow around the leaves and also adequate drainage of the soil. This can help reduce the chance of developing diseases that is more likely to occur when there is an excessive amount quantity of nitrogen present in soil.

Regarding soil that is rich I suggest you not amend the areas around your rosemary with manure or any other mulch because it holds excessive water and may increase the nitrogen content of the soil.

The rosemary plant is hardy once established, so it will be able to recover from a slumping appearance and return to its normal appearance if the conditions for growth are favorable.

If you are planning to plant the rosemary in a new location, it is a ideal time to amend the soil in the new plant area by adding sand or grit in order to replicate the conditions that grow in the natural environment of rosemary.

Sand and grit dont retain much water , nor do they provide a lot of nutrients to soils that can help balance fertile soils, making them better suited to the cultivation of rosemary.

Rosemary is drooping because of the insufficient the water (in pots)

Sometimes, rosemary can droop as a result of insufficient watering, rather than overwatering. Its not as frequent since rosemary thrives in dry conditions, but it could occur in pots, especially when the pot is small.

If the pot isnt big enough, it could dry out too fast, which could result in the growth of rosemary shrink.

The rosemary plant should be planted in a pot approximately 16 inches wide. A container or pot this dimensions will guarantee that there is enough space for soil that can hold some moisture after watering , so that the roots are able to draw in water.

In the heat, it could need to water the potted or container rosemary at least once a week to make sure the plant is supplied with enough water.

Terracotta pots are an excellent option to care for your rosemary as it permits some drainage and doesnt heat as quickly as metal or plastic containers in the sunshine, which can cause drying and increases the risk of the rosemary falling.

Key Takeaways:

  • The appearance of roses can be droopy due to excessive water around the roots, soil that is high in nitrogen or transplant shock, or because you have planted in a container or pot that isnt big enough.
  • To prevent rosemary from falling it is essential to reproduce the plants preferring the conditions of the Mediterranean.
  • Make sure that rosemary is planted in a well-drained soil with low to moderate nutrients and in full sun and watering every two weeks during hot temperatures. Place rosemary in a large container to ensure that the soil does not get dry before the roots are able to draw in water. This gives the rosemary time to recover from its drooping appearance, allowing it to flourish and remain healthy.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)