Best Soil For Rosemary (In Pots And In Gardens)

Whether you choose to grow your rosemary in a pot or in the garden, you’re going to want good soil. You can’t just pick any soil you like because your rosemary won’t grow well if you pick the wrong one. There are soils out there designed specifically for rosemary and plants like it.

While rosemary is an easy plant to grow, it can be quite picky about its soil. It needs sand-like well-draining soil to stay happy. So, which types of soil are truly best for rosemary?

Below, I discuss whether to grow rosemary in pots or in the garden before describing what criteria makes for great rosemary soil and what rosemary doesn’t like. I then summarize what soil for rosemary plants is best before giving some final tips for picking the best potting soil for rosemary plant.


Why Grow Rosemary?

The main reasons people like to grow rosemary is because it’s a beautiful plant that can be used in cooking. If you grow rosemary at home, you’ll have fresh herbs year round to use in your dishes.

Still not convinced? Check out all these reasons to grow rosemary at home.

Should You Grow Rosemary In Pots Vs Garden

Have you wondered whether it’s better to grow your rosemary in the garden or in a pot? Neither is really better than the other. Whichever location you choose depends on your preferences.

Growing Rosemary in Pots

Pots can be easier if you like to have more control over your plants. In a pot, you can control what kind of soil your plant gets, how much drainage it gets, and where it grows.

Some people live in regions where rosemary simply won’t survive outside over winter (more here) . People living in USDA hardiness zones 7 or below must bring their rosemary plants inside over winter. If your plants are potted year round, it simply makes this process easier.

Even if you live in an area where rosemary can survive the winter, some people still prefer to keep their plants inside.

where to plant rosemary

Growing Rosemary in Gardens

Keeping your rosemary in a garden is often easier because the plant gets so large. Some rosemary plants can grow up to 6-8 feet tall and wide. This makes it hard to keep them inside. Outside, you also don’t have to worry as much about overwatering them, or worrying about there being too much fertilizer.

For more pros and cons of planting your rosemary in a garden versus a pot, read our full article.

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Criteria For The Best Rosemary Soil Type

Rosemary really doesn’t like overly attentive gardeners, especially where water is involved. Too many inexperienced plant keepers will overwater their plants. After all, it’s better to overwater your plants than underwater… Right?

In fact, rosemary doesn’t like a lot of water. They would much rather be underwatered than overwatered. So, how does this play into getting the correct soil? Well, the type of soil you purchase is going to have a direct impact on how much water your plant is getting.

So, what are rosemary soil requirements? What type of soil does rosemary like? What is the best type of soil for rosemary?

Rosemary needs sand-like soil that drains very well. This type of soil allows the roots to trap just the right amount of water for the rosemary’s needs. It also helps provide adequate air circulation around the roots.

Although most soil used in gardens is not suitable for rosemary, the rosemary plants will do just fine. This is because gardens are often deep-structured and the soil is constantly exposed to air. This gives the soil plenty of time to dry out before the next watering.

The scenario is quite different if you’re going to grow your rosemary in a pot, though. That soil remains sheltered at all times, so you’ll want to get soil designed correctly for your rosemary.

best potting soil for rosemary plant
Planting rosemary sprouts in a pot

What To Avoid In Rosemary Soil

Although it’s an easy plant to grow and care for, rosemary is quite picky about the kind of soil it lives in. You should avoid using only regular potting soil because this won’t be enough for your rosemary. Most gardeners who have tried this in the past are unable to keep their rosemary plants alive.

You’ll also want to avoid soils with added fertilizers or wetting agents. Rosemary doesn’t like a lot of water, so the last thing it needs is a wetting agent. Also, rosemary likes low to moderate fertilizer. While it is important to provide your rosemary with fertilizer, you should have control over how much goes in.

Best Soil Mix For Rosemary In Pots

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that your rosemary plant is getting plenty of nutrients. It’s usually not difficult for garden plants to get nutrients. But, plants kept in a pot are often deprived of the nutrients they need. When choosing a potting mix, you want to make sure it’s rich in vitamins and nutrients.

You’re also going to want to keep the soil’s pH in mind. Rosemary can grow in a wide range of pH’s: between 6-8. They do best in slightly acidic soil, so it’s better to get a pH below 7 if you can.

Many times, you won’t find a single soil type that is suitable for growing rosemary in pots. Instead, you should create your own combination of soils. Here is the best soil for rosemary in containers…

Potting Soil & Perlite

One such combination is 2/3 regular potting soil with 1/3 Perlite. This is the simplest way to create potting soil for your rosemary, and it’s also the most used by gardeners across America.

Potting soil alone is not going to be good enough for your rosemary, though. Gardeners like to add some Perlite because it helps the soil to flush out any excess water.

The only downside to this potting mix is that it still may not drain enough. If this is the case, simply add more Perlite until you notice your rosemary plant perking up. You can also try reducing how often you water your rosemary.

Cactus Soil & Perlite

If you’re still finding that your rosemary plant isn’t getting enough drainage with regular potting soil and Perlite, you can try another option. Replace the regular potting soil with cactus soil. You’ll want 1/2 cactus soil and 1/2 Perlite for ideal drainage.

Cactus soil is widely used among gardeners for many herbs. It’s ideal for rosemary because, as we said before, rosemary doesn’t like a lot of water. As we all know, cactuses don’t like a lot of water either, so this soil is going to drain very well.

Why can’t you just use 100% cactus soil, then? It’s going to be too harsh for your rosemary. Cactus is designed specifically for cacti and succulents who require even less water than rosemary. Adding Perlite eases the harshness on your rosemary’s roots. The Perlite keeps your plant’s roots well-aerated. It also helps the roots to retain more water than if you used cactus soil alone.

The one downside of this mix is that it won’t have as many nutrients as regular potting mix. But, if regular potting mix isn’t working for you, this is going to be the best option.

Enriching products, like vermiculite, have water-trapping properties. This is why it’s not added to cactus soil in the first place. However, cactus soil may sometimes prevent your rosemary from getting enough water. In this case, adding vermiculite will help solve the problem. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself watering your rosemary more than usual.

Should You Change The Soil When Growing Rosemary In Pots?

You will definitely want to change the soil in your rosemary’s pot every few months. After awhile, the nutrients in the soil will be used up, and the overall composition of the soil will change. The soil will become less porous and there will no longer be any nutrients. If you don’t replace it with fresh soil, your plants can die.

Soil should be routinely replaced every few months. This is one of the best things you can do to keep your plant healthy and thriving. Soil devoid of nutrients will slowly drain your plant until it wilts and dies.

Best Soil For Rosemary In The Garden

When it comes to what is the best soil for rosemary plant, it’s not necessary to use potting mix if you’re growing rosemary in your garden. Most soils will work well because there’s plenty of space for the water to drain.

Still, if you want your rosemary to thrive, you should try to plant it in soil that drains well and is low in fertility.

To better know how to care for your rosemary in a garden, read our full guide.

Other Tips for Growing Rosemary

Perlite & Sand

You’ll notice that we suggested adding Perlite to your soil. Perlite is a sand-like material that helps with drainage. Although rosemary likes sand-like soils, you cannot replace Perlite with regular beach sand. Beach sand particles are too small and will cause the soil to drain too slowly.

If you don’t want to use Perlite, you can substitute it for horticultural sand which is coarser and allows for more air flow.

Peat Moss

You never want to place peat moss around your rosemary whether it’s in the garden or outside. Peat moss will completely harden in full sun conditions. As you know, rosemary requires full sun to thrive. Hardened peat moss will act as a water repellant, preventing your rosemary from getting the water it needs.

Final Words on the Best Soil for Rosemary

I hope you have found this guide to what soil does rosemary like useful. Rosemary is not a very picky plant when it comes to growing. Even beginners can grow this plant because it’s so hardy. Still, rosemary is quite particular about two things: sun and soil. Rosemary does not do well with a lot of water. It needs well-draining soil regardless of if it’s in a pot or a garden. Still, it’s not hard to pick good soil for your plant. A mix of potting soil and Perlite or cactus soil and Perlite is the best option. Keep those plants growing healthy!

Want to learn more? Click here to read my guide to growing rosemary from cuttings or here from growing it in water. You can also find my guide to when to plant rosemary here, the best growing conditions here or all my rosemary guides here.

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