The best thing to do when taking rosemary cuttings is to snip a section of new growth off of an already well-established plant. Rosemary cuttings are the easiest way to propagate new rosemary plants, but it is very important to start with a parent plant that is hearty in its own right. Immediately after making your cuts, soak your sprigs in rooting hormone, then plant them in a shallow dish of vitamin-rich soil, such as peat, until they root.
Rosemary is an herb in the mint family. In the wild, rosemary reproduces primarily through the spread of seed and the outgrowth of root networks underneath the soil. Most rosemary used in cooking and sold as a commercially-packaged herb does not come from wild growths. Cultivated rosemary plants — the kind sold in nurseries and raised on herb farms — are generally clones. This means that they produce asexually through layering and cutting.
Starting a rosemary plant from a cutting is a far simpler way to start a new growth than waiting for seeds to germinate. With the right fertilizers, light, and soil compositions, a rosemary cutting can propagate a new plant in as little as a few weeks. Propagating rosemary by taking cuttings is not a foolproof endeavor, however. It is usually a good idea to start a few cuttings at a time, in hopes that one will take root.
The first thing you should do is to look for a healthy outgrowth on an existing plant. Aim to take approximately 2 inches (about 5 cm), so look for a sprig with at least double that length in healthy growth. New, light green growth is usually the best. Try to avoid older sprigs with thick, wood-like stalks. The more established an individual sprig already is, the harder it will be for it to adapt to a new growing environment.
Once you have made your rosemary cuttings, carefully trim the leaves from the bottom 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) of the stalks. This is the part of the stalk that will be under ground. Prepare your soil, but before you plant your rosemary cuttings, dip each one in a rooting hormone solution. Rooting hormone is readily available at most gardening centers and essentially works as an extra “boost” to help your cutting start growing roots of its own.
It is important that you plant your rosemary cuttings in a porous, vitamin-rich soil to start. If your soil is too dense or too dry, the cutting’s new roots might have a hard time breaking through. Porous soil is not usually the best soil in which to grow a complete rosemary plant, but it is preferable for getting new cuttings to take hold. Once the roots are established, transfer the cutting to a larger container with ordinary potting soil.