Not long ago, a friend of mine asked me if he should worry about his rosemary plants getting too much sunlight. I was pretty sure I knew the answer, but just to be completely sure that I gave my friend the best advice, I decided to call an expert gardener to ask for some input. Here is what she told me.
In the vast majority of the world, rosemary cannot get too much sunlight, and the more sunlight it gets, the better it will grow. However, you might have to make sure your rosemary gets some shade if you live in the sunniest parts of the world near the equator.
It turned out that the expert gardener I talked to before I wrote this post had been growing rosemary for many years. So she had several great tips about how to tell if rosemary is getting enough or too much sun, what the best amount of sunlight for rosemary is, and more. I share everything I learned below.
Can Rosemary Get Too Much Sunlight?
Rosemary can technically get too much sunlight, but only in the sunniest areas of the world near the equator. In almost all of the world, the more sunlight rosemary gets, the better it will grow.
I wanted to be completely sure I had the best possible information to share before I wrote this post, so I called one of the garden centers near where I live and asked if any of them had a lot of experience with growing rosemary. I got to speak to a woman who not only had grown rosemary for many years but also had 12 years of experience as a gardening consultant.
She told me that the general rule about growing rosemary is, the more sun, the better plants.
The only exception to that rule is the warmest and sunniest parts of the world, near the equator. In those areas, the sunlight can get too intense for rosemary to survive, so you should try to give your plant some partial shade if you live there.
Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region, so it is naturally adjusted to thrive with a lot of direct sunlight. So unless you live practically right on the equator, you should not be concerned about your rosemary getting too much sunlight.
The thing most of us should be concerned with is if our rosemary plants are getting too little sun, but that being said, rosemary is a very strong-lived plant that can grow in most environments. You can read more about what conditions rosemary needs on this link.
Below, I share some tips on how you can tell if your rosemary plant is getting too much or too little sunlight, but first, here is what the expert gardener I talked to told me about the ideal amount of sunlight for rosemary.
What Is the Best Amount of Sunlight for Rosemary?
As a native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary thrives when it is exposed to a lot of sunlight.
The ideal amount of sunlight for rosemary is 6-8 hours or more per day.
3 Signs Rosemary Is Getting Too Much Sunlight
If you are concerned that your rosemary plant is getting more sunlight than what is good for it, there are some signs to look out for. Just remember, they can also be signs of other issues such as overwatering, underwatering, or too much fertilizer. It is very rare that rosemary is getting too much sunlight.
Here are some signs your rosemary is getting too much sunlight:
- Leaves begin to turn yellow or brown.
- Leaves begin to dry out.
- The plant begins to wilt.
An effect of too much sunlight is that the soil dries out faster, so the rosemary plant is more at risk of getting too little water. This will cause the plant to wilt, and the leaves will begin to seem soft and loose and eventually get dry.
As I wrote earlier in this post, rosemary can’t get too much sunlight in the vast majority of the world, so unless you live very close to the equator, these signs are more likely to be caused by other things such as overwatering. You can read more about that here.
How to Tell if Your Rosemary Needs More Sunlight
If a rosemary plant is not getting enough sunlight, it will stop growing and developing new shoots.
It is entirely normal for a rosemary plant to stop growing in the winter as there is generally not enough sunlight for it to grow. But if your rosemary plant is still not really growing during the summer, it could be because it is not getting enough sunlight.
It is also important to know when to put your rosemary plant outside, as it needs a certain amount of light (and other conditions) to survive the transition of being put outside. I have written another post where I explain how you can know when it is time to put your rosemary outside including a couple of other excellent tips about that.
Unlike many other herbs, rosemary is evergreen which means it does not lose its leaves and they do not turn yellow or brown during the winter, so while this is usually an easy way to tell if a plant is not getting enough sun, it does not work for rosemary.
What Happens if Rosemary Doesn’t Get Enough Sun
Rosemary is an extremely hardy plant that can survive for a long time without a lot of sunlight, but eventually, it will start to show.
If rosemary doesn’t get enough sunlight for an extended period of time, it will begin to grow slower and slower until it stops and eventually dies.
If you are growing rosemary in a pot, you should consider where the sunniest place is so that you can put your plant there. This is especially important in the winter, and you should not hesitate to move your rosemary around a couple of times throughout the season to give it as much sunlight as possible.
That is an excellent advantage of growing rosemary in a pot, but there are also disadvantages compared to growing it in the ground. I cover this topic in much more depth in this article, so I recommend reading it if that is relevant to you.