How to Make Rosemary Grow Bigger?

Last Updated on November 18, 2022 by Stephanie

Rosemary is an Mediterranean species that is specifically adjusted to specific soil and climate conditions of its natural environment.

The reason why that your rosemary isnt growing is typically because that the rosemary is under stress because its placed in conditions in opposition to their preferences for growth like, insufficient sunlight, excessive water around the roots, or roots in pots which are limiting the absorption of nutrients.

It is crucial to remember that rosemary is native to the hillsides of Southern France by the coast and in soils that are sandy or stony, with moderate to low nutrients.

In those conditions, that rosemary actually thrives, so adding fertilizers is not always the best solution to rosemary that is not growing. There are a variety of reasons that could make rosemary grow less in the way it should.

Continue reading to find out the reasons why your rosemary isnt growing, and the best solution to the issue…

Potted Rosemary is not growing properly (Pot tied roots)

One of the main reasons for container or potted rosemary not to grow even in the summer and spring conditions is due to the roots getting pot pound because the container is too small.

Rosemary isnt a fan of having being pot bound for many reasons:

  • If the roots of rosemary are fighting for space inside the pot, they fight for the nutrients too. The rosemary plant isnt a heavy eater and thrives in soils that are low to moderate in nutrients, however , it requires an amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (as as well as various trace mineral and bio-metals) to thrive.
  • A plant that is pot bound may have difficulty obtaining water when it is needed. Rosemary is an drought-resistant plant that needs minimal irrigation (if the roots are given enough room to grow) However the smaller pots have smaller capacity for soil, meaning that moisture wont be retained in the same way and the pot may dry out too fast so that the roots cannot draw in water, which could hinder the growth of rosemary correctly.
  • Rosemary isnt a particularly cold-hardy species ( USDA zone 7) and needs protection from temperatures that are lower than freezing (0degC or 32 degF). Roots are most prone to cold. However, when the rosemary is planted in the ground , the roots are terribly damaged by the soil in the garden. If the rosemary roots are pot bound, there wont be enough soil to protect the roots, and the rosemary is more susceptible to damage or stress caused by cold, which could stop it from growing.

rosemary in black pot


Make sure to plant rosemary in a big container (around 16 inches in diameter) and shield it from winter (bring the pot inside for the night in case temperatures drop below freezing, or use the cloche or fleece to protect the outdoor area).

The addition of rosemary to a larger pot can solve most of the issues and will allow the plant to develop again, with more scenting foliage and more flavorful leaves.

The larger pot permits greater soil to protect the roots, so that rosemary is less susceptible to sudden cold snaps. The more fertile soil means that the rosemary will be able to gain access to more nutrients and water, which will improve the health of the plant to ensure that it continues to grow and stays healthy.

What is the best fertilizer for encouraging a rose to develop?

Rosemary thrives in stony or sandy soils within its natural Mediterranean range that are comparatively lacking in nutrients. Rosemary is adapted to the low-nutrient soils, and thrives in these conditions, as long as its roots have enough space to grow.

Since rosemary thrives in soils with low to moderate nutrient levels it is often not required, but it could be beneficial if:

  • It has grown in the exact soil, in the identical container or pot for a number of years (the roots could drain the nutrition reserves of the soil).
  • They were bound to the pot before being transferred into a bigger pot that has more soil.

In these two scenarios, small amounts of an optimum NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorous, Nitrogen as well as Potassium) liquid fertilizer with half strength could be beneficial to stimulate growth following an extended period of deficient nutrients.

Any general fertilizer will work however I would like to emphasize the importance of applying only half strength since excessive fertilizer could cause more harm than good for rosemary.

Apply the fertilizer only in the spring to encourage new growth. Applying the fertilizer late could encourage new growth of the foliage, which is less tender and more susceptible to cold temperatures.

Improve Drainage and Reduce Watering Frequency for Better Rosemary Growth

The rosemary is a drought-resistant plant that thrives in extreme dry, hot conditions. It is adapted to live in stony or sandy soils which do not hold enough water, so the roots tend to be dry, which is their preferred condition.

The most common mistake made by gardeners who grow rosemary is to take give it too much attention! Rosemary thrives best on uncared for treatment, and will grow much better when it receives less attention and care.

Rosemary may exhibit signs of stress because of:

  • A lot of water around the roots as a result the slow drainage of soils
  • Overwatering
  • or climates that have high rainfall

The rose can thrive in areas that are rainy (such as the northwestern region of the Pacific or the UK) when your soil is amended to ensure that it drains well.

The stress caused by sensitivity to moisture can hinder the growth of rosemary therefore it is essential to mimic the soil conditions that are typical of the native rosemary environment.

(Persistently moist soils may make the plant change color from yellow to brown or black, depending on the pathogen that causes fungal growth. Check out my article on ways to bring back the dead rosemary plant).

It is essential to limit the amount of watering you do to hot weather. You should also avoid watering when there have been several days of rain or overcast.

Rosemary typically only requires irrigation every two weeks during the summer when they are planted in pots that are suitable for the plant and every 2 or 3 weeks when placed in garden boarders.

To make sure that the soil does not remain moist around the roots for long periods of time, it is recommended that you amend your soil prior to planting, regardless of whether the rosemary is planted in pots or in soil that is used for gardening.

After youve made the trench or picked the pot, add approximately 20 percent horticultural sand, or grit to make 80% multi-purpose compost or pot soil.

This mimics the soil conditions in the rosemarys natural habitat and ensures good drainage, so that the roots dont get the soil that is damp, which could stress the plant and hinder it from growing in a healthy way.

A persistently damp soil could limit its growth in rosemary, and could result in root decay and create conditions that allow fungal diseases to flourish, hence the importance of properly prepared soil.

Rosemary requires full sun for proper growth (More than 6 hours of sun)

One of the main reasons why rosemary isnt growing in the way it should is due to the fact that the plant isnt in full sun.

The rose is native to the regions in Southern Europe and it is especially common throughout regions in the South of France. In its natural environment, rosemary thrives within full sun, with warm temperatures and mild winters in open areas that is not shaded by other plants.

In these climate conditions that rosemary thrives and has the most intense flavor, aroma and flavour. It is able to flower throughout the year.

The rosemary is a tolerant and hardy plant that is able to thrive in a variety of different climates (apart from climates that are consistently cold) and thrives in areas that receive at least six hours of sunlight each day, however it is the possibility of more.

The less sun-drenched the area is, the less rosemary will grow. So when youve planted rosemary or placed the pot in an area that receives less than 6 hours of sunshine, you must or transplant your rosemary or relocate your pot into a more sunny area.

This will promote more growth and enhance the flavor and aroma that the leaf has.

Regular Pruning to Stimulate Growth

Rosemary is very responsive to pruning during the growing season which encourages the growth of new leaves and stems so you can trim rosemary to cook with as and as needed to ensure that the flavor remains in the best possible form.

If the rosemary isnt cut back regularly, there could be significant growth of woody stems from the base. The branches and stems that are woody are less productive and are generally less productive than the younger stems, in terms of the development of new stems and leaves.

Do not hedge rosemary to encourage growth of leaves. Also, do not cut back into the woody growth because it will not be able to grow back as well.

The time to prune rosemary in the spring is an ideal time to clean up your plants appearance as well as stimulate growth. Dont prune too early in the fall, as it can encourage young growth , which is more susceptible to frost damage.

Check out this YouTube video to learn pruning rosemary to encourage growth and leaves:


Key Takeaways:

  • The reason that the rosemary isnt growing could be due to root-bound pots, excessive irrigation soils that drain slowly insufficient sunlight or lack of regular pruning.
  • The most important thing to ensure good development for the rosemary plant is to mimic the conditions that allow for its growth in the environment in which it is grown.
  • Plant rosemary in well-drained sandy soils in full sun , and only water it once each two weeks. Pruning frequently in Spring and Summer will encourage the growth of new rosemary stems and leaves.


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 :)