How to Transplant a Rosemary Bush

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Grow rosemary for its flavorful leaf sprigs.
Grow rosemary for its flavorful leaf sprigs. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Rosemary (Rosemaryinus officinalis) grows as a small, woody shrub that is both ornamental and an herb. Most varieties grow best in areas with no heavy freezes, although some types tolerate temperatures as low as 5 degrees F. Rosemary doesn't grow well from seed, so is usually planted from nursery-grown transplants. Transplant rosemary in the spring or early summer after frost danger passes. The plant has the entire summer to establish healthy roots and branches before being subjected to winter cold.

Water the soil in the rosemary pot before transplanting it. Allow the soil to absorb the moisture for 30 minutes. A moistened soil ball more easily lifts from the pot.

Dig the planting hole in the garden bed with a trowel. Set the pot in the hole to determine if it's large enough. Make the hole deeper or wider as necessary, so it's the same depth and slightly wider than the pot.

Lift the rosemary from its pot. Thumping the pot’s sides and bottom loosens the soil, so the entire soil and rootball slides from the pot.

Set the soil and rootball in the planting hole. Arrange the rosemary plant so the soil ball’s top is level with the surrounding soil in the bed. Fill in the hole around the rosemary roots.

Watering the rosemary after transplanting helps the soil settle around the roots. Add more soil to the planting hole if it settles more than the surrounding soil.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rosemary grows best in well-draining, full-sun beds with a pH between 5.0 and 8.0.
  • Space rosemary plants 12 to 36 inches apart in all directions, so the plant has room to develop healthy roots and top growth.

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