As with the mint, we took about 2-3 inch cuttings from the tops of the rosemary stalks where new growth was happening. To get a cutting, you just snip right off the plant. You want to try for the newer green growth since it's still in the growth stages and has a less woody stem — the chances for getting roots are evidently much higher and the time for getting them should be shorter than with the woodier part of the stems.
Gently pull and strip away the leaves on the stem, leaving a few at the top. Leaving only a few leaves at the top of the cutting allows the stem more energy to focus on new root growth instead of feeding so many leaves on the stem.
You can even gently scrape the outer layer of the stems with your fingernail to promote root growth even further. With propagation, the new roots will eventually sprout out from these leaf nodes in the stem you've just stripped away.
Place new stem cuttings in container of water and let them sit and get cozy in their new home.
Keep the water covering the leaf nodes on the stem and below the leaves. Refresh water in container every few days and rinse stems with each refresh. Here's how we started out back in the very beginning of January:
8 days later, not much had changed at all, except for a little fuzzy growth we'd need to rinse off the stems:
An entire month after that, we still weren't sprouting any roots, but you'll notice that new bright green growth was taking place on the tops of the cuttings — so we hung in there to see what would happen:
2 months after we took the cuttings, March 1st, still no roots:
Then, almost like magic, we came downstairs on March 6th to find this little gem had sprouted overnight:
We ended up waiting another 10 days after the initial root sprouted before transferring it to a soil filled container in order to allow it to get stronger. Roots grown in water tend to be weaker that those that take shape first in soil:
What's even more exciting and pretty ironic about our progress with rosemary propagation, was how we were able to successfully propagate a huge bunch of rosemary stalks on the other side of the kitchen without even realizing it.
After a meeting for the Richmond Food Co-op at the William Byrd Community House in mid February, I'd brought home a large bunch of local rosemary stalks from the gardener at the Byrd House Market. I always like to keep fresh cut herbs from the store or market in a container of water by the kitchen sink to help prolong their freshness as long as possible (great for herbs like cilantro and parsely).
Since it was such a large bunch of rosemary, we didn't use the bulk of it right away, so it sat for a few weeks and stayed alive while we used what we needed here and there in recipes. After a few more weeks, we actually saw new growth on the tips of these rosemary stalks and when I pulled them up from the container to change their water, we realized there were roots growing from the bottom of these stalks!
We weren't even trying with these guys and they seemed to propagate quicker than our others in the windowsill — they hadn't been stripped of their leaves or refreshed nearly as much as our other smaller cuttings. It may have been that they were cut from a more established plant at a later time in the season with new growth, or it may have been that we kept them in a closed (not clear) container and away from the direct windowsill. Whatever the case may be, we were blown away.
Over the weekend, we finally got a chance to transplant our rosemary cuttings in their own soil filled containers, in hopes they will continue to grow established roots and take off in their new homes.
We layered the bottoms of the planters with drainage rocks, filled them up with gardening soil and gently planted the small cutting we'd rooted in the windowsill:
Then we decided we'd take a chance and plant the larger stalks in bigger planters just to see what happens — we've really got nothing to lose, so we're giving it a shot!
Only one tragedy came out of this project and that's when I accidentally knocked over this pitcher Mary hand-painted on a trip to Mexico:
We do have another similar pitcher from the same trip and might be able to mend the pieces of this one, but it something we had to document since Mary's usually the one prone to knocking things over between the two of us!
There were also several stalks from that larger bunch that didn't root. Instead of pitching these in the compost bin, I nestled them in the soil next to our garage in our back alley just to see anything happens there. If worse comes to worst, they will just provide a natural compost in that area, but who knows, maybe we'll have another little rosemary patch take off here too.
We've taken all the planters inside, given them a healthy watering and are letting them hang out in our kitchen windowsill area for a few days before moving them around the house.
We're looking forward to having them as perennial house plants we can chop bits and pieces from as we need them for recipes — hopefully we'll be able to keep them alive!
Have you had success propagating herbs or other plants? Do you root them in water or get them to root straight in the soil? Propagating is still new to us, so we're curious what's been working for everyone else!