Does Rosemary Spread? How to Control Rosemary

There are plenty of rosemary plants that spread, but fortunately it’s not a problem. Some herbs and plants spread very quickly and don’t stop. They’ll quickly take over a garden, leaving you overwhelmed. This isn’t the case with rosemary, though. Rosemary is a slow growing herb that is easily trimmable. Besides that, it’s not likely to grow more than 4-8 feet in width depending on which type of rosemary plant you choose.

Besides that, if you’re worried about your rosemary plant spreading too much, just get an upright plant. There are many kinds of rosemary plants and some don’t spread much at all. Below, you will find my full guide to how rosemary spreads including whether it’s invasive, how to stop it spreading, whether you should plant it in pots and what the best soil and sun conditions are for rosemary.


Why Grow Rosemary?

There are a lot of great reasons to grow rosemary, but the main reason is its usefulness. Rosemary is used for cooking in many dishes like soups, roasts, and sauces. By growing your own rosemary plant, you can save a lot of money that you would have wasted at the grocery store.

Rosemary can also be used as incense and essential oils to treat mild symptoms of anxiety, joint pain, and memory loss.

Not only that, but it’s a beautiful plant that adds character to your garden. The needle-like leaves are a rich green coloration, and flowers will bloom on the plants in spring.

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Does Rosemary Spread Like Mint?

Rosemary is similar to mint in that it can spread — depending on the type of rosemary plant — but it’s not usually a problem like mint can be.

How Mint Spreads Compared to Rosemary

Mint is a different kind of plant than rosemary. It’s fast growing and can quickly take over a garden if left unchecked. It’s been observed that mint can grow up to 4 inches every month, and it doesn’t stop. A single plant can grow up to 2 feet in only 6 months.

But it doesn’t stop there. Mint plants grow using rhizomes that creep along the ground. As the rhizomes move away from the original plant, more plants sprout up, adding onto the original. This means that new plants are continually sprouting onto the original, spreading out into new areas. Because of this, mint will seemingly never stop growing and can easily overtake garden space.

How Rosemary Spreads Compared to Mint

The difference with rosemary is that it does not have rhizomes. It simply has stems that will just grow longer and longer. This means that a rosemary plant is only one single plant. This is unlike mint that can grow multiple plants from one original plant.

So, some species of rosemary do creep along the ground. But, they’re unlikely to become out-of-control like mint plants.

In fact, rosemary is a slow-growing plant. It can take several years for it to grow to its full potential. At its biggest, rosemary can grow 8 feet wide. Still, there are many rosemary plants that don’t grow nearly that wide.

You can read more about how fast rosemary grows here.

does rosemary spread

Types of Rosemary and How they Spread

When it comes to rosemary and how it grows, we divide the plant into four categories: tall and upright, low and spreading, prostrate, and others that don’t fit into a clear category.

Low & Upright Rosemary

For our purposes today, we’ll cover the rosemary plants that are “low and spreading”. These include plants such as “Blue Lagoon”, “Collingwood Ingram”, “Lockwood de Forest”, “Wendy’s White”, and “Benenden Blue”.

Blue Lagoon: This plant has brilliant blue flowers that bloom from winter into spring. The flowers attracts bees and necter-eating birds. It can reach heights of 6 feet and widths of 6 feet.

Collingwood Ingram: This plant has blue flowers with a light scent and dark green foliage. It can reach heights of 2 feet and widths of 4 feet.

Lockwood de Forest: This has pale blue flowers that bloom in the spring with light green foliage. It can reach heights of 2 feet and widths of 6-8 feet.

Wendy’s White: Smokey white flowers with grey green leaves. It can reach heights of 4 feet and widths of 3 feet.

Benenden Blue: Dark blue flowers that grow during winter with deep green leaves. It can reach heights of 3 feet and widths of 3 feet.

Is Rosemary Invasive?

Whether or not rosemary can be considered invasive is up for some debate. Technically, it is only considered invasive in Cuba. However, it is listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds as a “casual alien, cultivation escape, garden thug, naturalised, weed.”

The USDA does not consider rosemary to be invasive in the United States right now, but that has the potential to change. It has great regeneration abilities through both seeds and cuttings. It is heat and drought tolerant, and it lives in soil types that most plants find inhospitable.

For now, the USDA says that rosemary has a “negligible” potential of becoming an invasive weed. However, that potential has been increasing with the rise of its commercial use and rising popularity.

How Quickly Does Rosemary Spread?

Rosemary is a very slow growing plant that will take several years to reach full maturity. Besides that, the widest one of these plants will spread is up to 8 feet.

How Can You Stop Rosemary Spreading?

Fortunately, it’s really not difficult to stop your rosemary from spreading. It’s a very slow grower, so you simply need to prune it when it’s getting too long for your liking. It’s a good idea to prune your rosemary regularly anyway. Pruning your rosemary at least once a year will help keep your plant healthy.

Can Rosemary Be Grown In Pots? Does This Stop It Spreading?

Rosemary absolutely can be grown in pots, but this won’t necessarily stop it from spreading. Many creeping kinds of rosemary will simply spill out over the side of the pot they’re in. Most people that choose to pot these types of rosemary like this aesthetic, though. Usually, this is the look they’re going for. The best way to prevent rosemary from spreading is to simply get a non-spreading rosemary plant. There are plenty of kinds of rosemary that grow tall rather than wide.

If you already have a spreading rosemary plant and don’t want to discard it, simply trim it down with some pruning.

What Soil And Sun Conditions Help Rosemary Thrive?

Fortunately, rosemary plants are easy to take care of, although they do have some specific requirements.

To successfully thrive, rosemary needs at least 6-8 hours of full sun. It can tolerate small amounts of shade, but full sun is best to keep it healthy. Most gardeners recommend that you keep your rosemary plant on the east side of your house where the sun rises. This allows your plant to get more than enough sun throughout the day.

Click here to read more about where to plant rosemary.

Similarly, rosemary does not like a lot of water. Of course, it needs water to survive, but too much can drown it and cause it to rot. Because of this, rosemary prefers soil that is sand-like and is well-draining. It also can tolerate a wide range of pH’s, but does best in a pH between 6-7.5.

To learn more about the care that rosemary needs to thrive, check out our full guide here.

Final Words on How Rosemary Spreads

Although some rosemary plants do spread, there are many that don’t. If you don’t want a rosemary plant that spreads, simply get one that grows tall and upright rather than creeps along the ground. Still, if you like the look of the creeping rosemary, they’re very easy to care for. These plants are slow growing, and they’re easy to prune. It’s very easy to prevent your garden from becoming overrun by rosemary plants.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn how to grow rosemary from cuttings and here to learn if you can plant it with tomatoes. Find out what rosemary repels here. You can also find all my rosemary guides here.

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