Trailing Rosemary: The Ultimate Plant Care Guide

Trailing Rosemary is a delightful herb that’s easy to care for and grows well in containers.

It has lovely, needle-like leaves and delicate, pale blue or white flowers. Best of all, it smells divine! Creeping rosemary is a terrific addition to any garden or landscape and makes an attractive houseplant, too.

Every herb has its own needs, and trailing rosemary is no exception. This herb is hardy and can thrive on its own, but there are some key things to remember when caring for it.

trailing rosemary plant cascading down a rock wall

Here is a guide to help you grow healthy and beautiful trailing rosemary plants in your garden.

Overview

Botanical nameSalvia rosmarinus
Other namesRosmarinus officinalis (initial scientific name), Prostrate rosemary, creeping rosemary
Mature height1-2ft
Mature width2-4ft
Growth rateModerate
Flowering seasonSpring
Need for pruningYes
Good soil typeLight, porous, well-drained soil
Water needsLow water needs
Sun exposureFull sun
Need fertilizingNo. the plant thrives in areas of low fertility
U.S.D.A hardiness zone7-11
Flower colorPale blue or white

What Is a Trailing Rosemary and Where Does It Come from?

Trailing rosemary, also known as creeping rosemary, is a beautiful, fragrant plant that is easy to grow, native to the Mediterranean Basin and Asia.

Trailing rosemary is a low-growing, evergreen herb with a spreading habit. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and spreads 2 to 3 feet wide. Trailing rosemary has dark green needles fine, leathery foliage, and sweet flowers.

The leaves are about 1/2 inch long, dark green, and aromatic. The flowers are pale blue, tubular, and about 1/2-inch long. They are borne in clusters near the tips of the branches.

Why Trailing Rosemary?

The trailing rosemary can be grown in a variety of ways. The plant can be grown in hanging baskets or over walls, or on the ground, thanks to its excellent ground cover.

Trailing rosemary is a low-maintenance plant that is drought-tolerant and pest-resistant. It has dense growth and spreads quickly by underground runners, making it a good choice for a ground cover plant in a rock garden.

The leaves of creeping rosemary have a strong, fragrant aroma that is reminiscent of pine or rosemary.

The flowering spikes are purple, and the flowers are attractive to bees. Creeping rosemary can be used as a culinary herb to flavor dishes such as chicken, vegetables, and soups.

Where to Buy Trailing Rosemary?

You can buy your creeping rosemary from your local nursery under various names, as indicated in the table above.

Trailing rosemary is also available for purchase from various online retailers, but you have to do your research to make sure you’re getting the healthiest and most vigorous plants for your garden.

How to Plant a Trailing Rosemary?

Step 1:

Choose sunny locations in the garden and ensure the area has plenty of space, especially if you intend to grow a number of plants in your garden.

Points to Note:

  • The herb has a mat-forming habit and grows 2 to 3 ft. wide.
  • Creeping rosemary will spread rapidly, so it is best suited for areas where it can be allowed to sprawl.
  • Trailing rosemary plants need to be planted 24-36 inches apart, so take this into consideration when choosing your location.

Step 2:

Dig a hole that’s several inches deeper than the root mass of the herb.

Step 3:

mix soil gravel

Mix the soil you have dug out with some gravel to improve its drainage

Step 4:

planting rosemary to soil

Plant the rosemary into the hole and put back the improved soil into the hole.

Step 5

Watering of Fresh Rosemary Outdoors

Give the plant just enough water and take care not to drown it.

Tip: Grow your trailing rosemary with companion plants such as lavender, cabbages, parsnips, broccoli, etc. Companion plants offer the following benefits to your trailing rosemary plant:

  • Help your rosemary grow faster
  • Improve the taste of your rosemary
  • Attract beneficial insects
  • Repel pests away
  • Improve soil quality.

Growing Trailing Rosemary from Cuttings

Although Trailing Rosemary produces seeds, they have a low germination rate, so their use is ineffective for reproducing the plant. In this respect, propagation is the most effective method of growing trailing rosemary.

The best time to take stem cuttings is in early spring, just as new growth emerges.

Here’s the process to follow to effectively propagate a rosemary plant with cuttings:

  1. Take a 4-6 inch cutting from a healthy rosemary plant.
  2. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder after removing the lower leaves.
  3. Fill a container with potting soil that has been moistened and plant the cutting in it. Ensure that the cutting is buried 2 to 3 inches deep in the soil.
  4. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and place the container in a sunny location. Roots should form in about four to six weeks.
  5. When the roots are established, transplant the rosemary plant into the garden.

How to Grow/Care for a Trailing Rosemary?

Pruning

Pruning is an essential practice for keeping your trailing rosemary plant healthy and looking great.

pruning rosemary

You should trim away dead or damaged shoots and flowers to keep the plant healthy and balanced. This will result in a fuller, more attractive plant.

To enhance the growth of new foliage, prune your trailing rosemary during spring or shortly before summer.

Tip: Pruning your trailing rosemary at the onset of summer ensures that the plant has favorable conditions to grow new foliage.

Watering

Trailing rosemary requires almost daily watering when it’s young. However, as it matures, you should only water it once or twice a week. The reason for this is that creeping rosemary is succulent, which means that it stores most of the water it receives.

Note: Trailing rosemary is a drought-tolerant plant that does not require much water, so be careful not to waterlog the soil.

Fertilizing

There is usually no need to fertilize a trailing rosemary plant, but you can use a dry fertilizer or liquid fertilizer to give the herb a boost.

Dry Fertilizer Granules

Dry fertilizer is sprinkled on the soil and then watered in, while a water-soluble liquid fertilizer is mixed with water and poured on the soil around the rosemary plant.

If you choose to fertilize, avoid using a high-nitrogen fertilizer, as this can produce rank growth and diminish the herb’s flavor. A balanced fertilizer or a fish emulsion is a good choice for rosemary.

Please note: Trailing rosemary plants do best in low fertility regions. In this regard, don’t overdo the fertilizers. Add them to your soil only when there’s a deficiency of a certain nutrient or when your herb looks stunted.

Pest management

The following are pests that can damage your trailing rosemary plants, along with their remedies:

Aphids

Aphids can cause damage to trailing rosemary plants by sucking sap from leaves and stems.

aphids

This can reduce the herb’s vigor and make it more susceptible to other pests and diseases. Aphids also produce a sticky honeydew that can attract bees and ants and lead to the growth of black sooty mold.

Remedy: One easy way to eliminate aphids naturally is to spray your trailing rosemary plant with a pressure washer every other day.

This will blast the aphids away and keep them from coming back. You can also use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to kill the aphids.

Red spider mites

Spider mites are tiny, sap-sucking pests that can cause extensive damage to plants. They can be challenging to get rid of once they become established.

You can usually tell you have spider mites if you see white spots on the leaves of your rosemary herbs.

They multiply quickly, and a small infestation can turn into a major problem in a short amount of time.

Remedy: One way to get rid of them is to spray them with a stream of cool water. The high pressure from the water will knock the mites off the plant, and they will drown in the water or be eaten by predators.

This method is most effective if you catch the spider mites early before they have a chance to do too much damage. Otherwise, you should use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to get rid of red spider mites.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are notorious insects that deposit a sticky substance that causes mold on creeping rosemary herbs very quickly.

This is a common problem for gardeners and one that is difficult to treat. Whiteflies can be identified by their white wings and are often found near the top of the herbs.

Remedy: Whiteflies can be treated with insecticidal soap, but it’s also essential to remove any infected leaves immediately.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are sap-sucking insects that can quickly damage rosemary plants. They are most commonly found on the undersides of leaves, where they consume plant sap.

This can cause the leaves to turn yellow and wilt and can eventually kill the plant.

Remedy: The best way to get rid of them is to spray the plant with a strong stream of water to dislodge them and then treat the plant with an appropriate insecticide. You can also use neem oil to get rid of these stubborn bugs.

Spittlebugs

A spittlebug is a small brown insect that feeds on the sap of rosemary herbs and excretes a white, foamy substances.

Although spittlebugs don’t typically cause much damage to creeping rosemary plants, they can be a nuisance because of the mess they make.

Remedy: Like in the case of aphids, use a pressure washer to blast off spittlebugs if you find them on your rosemary herbs. Insecticidal soap is also a perfect remedy for a spittlebug infestation on your creeping rosemary.

Diseases management

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects many types of plants, including rosemary. It causes a white, powdery coating to form on the plant’s leaves. The fungus can stunt the growth of the plant and reduce its yield.

Remedy: The best and easiest solution for powdery mildew is applying a solution of 1 part milk and 5 parts water to the section of the herb affected by the disease.

Spray the solution to the herb twice a week until the problem disappears. If the disease persists, apply a good pesticide.

Root Rot

Rosemary is also commonly affected by root rot. The symptoms are wilting leaves, browning leaves, and a general decline in the herb’s health. The most common cause of this problem in creeping rosemary is overwatering.

Remedy: You have two options here. Make your fungus combating solution or buy a fungicide to eliminate the fungi.

For the DIY solution, you just need to mix 1 part (3%) hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water, then mix the solution and soak the soil around your herb in the solution.

Fungal Diseases

In humid conditions, trailing rosemary plants are susceptible to fungal diseases. These diseases will specifically harm the leaves of the rosemary plant.

Remedy: Plant your trailing rosemary herb in an area that receives full sun, and also thin/trim your rosemary plant to allow air circulation.

Furthermore, you should water your plant in the morning to allow it to dry entirely throughout the day.

Weed management

Weeds are pesky plants that can ruin a garden, and the first line of defense against them is taking preemptive measures before planting the rosemary seedlings.

Tillage is the first step in the process, and it helps to remove the weeds and loosen the soil so that it’s easier to manage later on. Mulching can also help keep the weeds at bay by choking out light and oxygen.

Frequent hand weed control between the plant rows is also needed to ensure that your creeping rosemary plants are not competing with other unwanted plants for nutrients.

What Does Trailing Rosemary Need to Thrive?

Enough sun

Creeping rosemary is an evergreen perennial that is best grown in a location that receives full sun. When growing trailing rosemary indoors in a container, place the plant near a window or anywhere else where it’ll receive direct sunlight.

Good soil

The plant thrives in light porous, alkaline, and well-drained soil that is of low fertility. If you must plant a trailing rosemary plant in an area with impervious soil, percolate it by combining it with sand or grit.

Compacted soil can be a challenge for trailing rosemary gardeners. It can be hard for water, air, and nutrients to move through the soil and this can lead to problems with plant growth.

Young trailing rosemary in compacted soil may not grow well and may be more susceptible to disease.

Creeping rosemary plants that are already established in compacted soil can still thrive, but will not grow as large or produce as much fruit as they would in loose soil.

If your rosemary is thriving in an area of compacted soil, you need to aerate the soil around the roots, to avail oxygen to the roots.

Optimum temperature

Trailing rosemary plants won’t survive in a temperature below the 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit range.

If you live in an area where the temperature falls below 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to bring your rosemary plants inside for the winter.

Air circulation

Air circulation is crucial for creeping rosemary plants. When grown in stagnant air, the herb is likely to suffer from a mold or a mildew spore’s attack.

To ensure that your herbs get good air circulation, plant them in a location where they will receive plenty of sunlight. It’s also important to regularly remove the dead leaves from the plant and ensure there’re no weeds blocking air circulation around the plant.

How to Harvest and Store Trailing Rosemary?

To harvest rosemary, cut off the tips of the branches with sharp scissors. Cut the branches back by about one-third to keep the plant healthy and productive.

Before you store rosemary, make sure you completely dry it. Drying rosemary is a great way to preserve the herb’s flavor and aroma. It’s also a great way to have the herb on hand for cooking throughout the year.

To dry rosemary, pull the needles between your pinched fingertips to remove the needles. Spread the needles out on a sheet in a single layer and wait for them to completely dry. Store the dried needles in an airtight container.

Tip: Avoid chopping your rosemary during storage as this can break off the aroma of the herb. Only chop your rosemary when you’re using it.

Uses and Benefits of Trailing Rosemary Plant

Culinary uses

Trailing rosemary has a piney, woodsy taste and aroma that pairs well with savory dishes.

One of the most popular uses of rosemary in the kitchen is to add it to roast meats.

It can also be added to soups, stews, and pasta dishes. Rosemary can also be used as a rub or marinade for meat. When used in conjunction with garlic, it makes a delicious seasoning for chicken or fish.

Cosmetics

Cosmetic companies are starting to use trailing rosemary in their products. The herb is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it’s being used in skincare products.

Some of the benefits of using trailing rosemary in cosmetics include reducing wrinkles, treating skin conditions, and preventing signs of aging.

Ornamental

Trailing rosemary can be used to make wreaths, swags, and garlands. It also makes a beautiful addition to flower arrangements.

Medicinal uses/ Aromatherapy

Rosemary oil helps improve cognitive function, concentration, and memory. It does this by increasing blood flow to the brain and thus improving its functions.

Additionally, rosemary oil is also a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, which makes it beneficial for treating a variety of conditions.

When used aromatically, rosemary oil can be helpful in relieving stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s also great for purifying the air and improving air quality.

In What Season to Plant and Harvest Trailing Rosemary?

If you live in high elevation zones, plant your trailing rosemary during the spring. Plant the herb in the fall if you live in low-desert areas. Creeping rosemary planting from stem cuttings can be done any time of year.

How Does Trailing Rosemary Reproduce?

Trailing rosemary reproduces through propagation. This can be done by taking a stem cut from the mother plant and dipping it into a rooting compound before planting it in the soil.

The mother plant will continue to produce new cuttings while the original cutting begins to grow into a new plant.

Can you grow a Trailing Rosemary in a Container?

Growing trailing rosemary in a container is a great way to keep the plant in controlled conditions.

However, there’s one thing you should avoid when you plant this herb in a container– overwatering it. Wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.

Is the Trailing Rosemary the Best Rosemary Variety for Cooking?

There are many types of rosemary plants, but not all of them are ideal for culinary use.

The trailing rosemary is one of the best varieties for cooking, as it has a stronger flavor than other types of rosemary. It also has a longer shelf life, meaning that you can store it in your kitchen for longer without it going bad.

Is a Trailing Rosemary Tolerant to Cold?

Trailing rosemary plants are not so cold tolerant and are unlikely to survive temperatures below 10℉.

The leaves of rosemary plants will turn black and fall off if the temperature falls below freezing. If you live in an area where the temperature falls below this range, you will need to bring your creeping rosemary inside.

When Does a Trailing Rosemary flower?

The rosemary will start to flower in March and the flowers will appear as clusters along the branches. The herb’s flowers are pale blue but some appear white.

They will be in bloom until May. While the flowering season can change with the climate, it won’t be far off from the March to May period.

How Many Times a Year Does a Trailing Rosemary Flower?

If you have a mature trailing rosemary plant in your garden, you will be able to enjoy its flowers for two seasons in a year!

The first batch of flowers will bloom in late winter or early spring, and the second batch of flowers will bloom in early summer.

Is it hard to Grow Trailing Rosemary?

Trailing Rosemary is a beautiful ground cover plant that’s fuss-free to grow. It’s one of the easiest herbs to grow especially in arid regions as it’s highly drought tolerant.

It doesn’t require a lot of water and can handle periods of drought well. It’s also tolerant of high temperatures, making it a good choice for hot climates.

Is a Trailing Rosemary Edible?

The trailing rosemary is an edible herb that is known to add a pungent flavor to food. The soft leaves of the creeping rosemary are the main edible parts of the plant but the flowers of the herb have an excellent flavor and are also edible.

How Long Can a Trailing Rosemary Live?

The average lifespan of trailing rosemary is 10-15 years. With proper care and when exposed to the right conditions, a creeping rosemary plant can clock up to the 20 years mark.