Does Rosemary Grow Best in a Pot or the Ground? Explained

Rosemary can grow and thrive both in pots or the ground, and there are several reasons to pick either of the two options. After growing rosemary for several years, both in pots and in the ground, it has become very clear to me what the advantages and disadvantages are. Therefore, I have written this post to share what I have learned and make it easy to decide whether growing rosemary in a pot or the ground is the best option for you.

Rosemary that grows in the ground can grow faster and get bigger than rosemary that grows in a pot. It is, however, easier to control conditions such as watering and exposure to sun and frost for rosemary that grows in a pot. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each method, but both can work well.

For this post, I created two tables to give you the easiest overview of the advantages and disadvantages of growing rosemary in a pot and growing it in the ground. You will find these tables below.

Does Rosemary Grow Better in a Pot or the Ground?

Rosemary is one of the most popular herbs to grow at home. Of course, the excellent taste and smell play a significant role, but the fact that it is one of the easiest low-maintenance herbs to grow is also a big reason why rosemary is so popular.

Rosemary can grow and thrive both in the ground and in pots or containers, but there are advantages and disadvantages associated with both methods. Generally speaking, rosemary that grows in the ground will get bigger, but rosemary that grows in a pot is less likely to be attacked by pests.

If you just want the biggest and bushiest rosemary plant you can get, I recommend starting it indoors in a pot and then transplanting it outside in the spring once there is no risk of frost, and once the plant is at least 10 inches (25 cm) tall. And then I recommend reading this post.

I have been growing rosemary for a while, and I have tried both growing it in pots and directly in the ground, and what I have learned is that the best method basically just depends on you. Allow me to elaborate.

  • Rosemary that grows in a pot can be moved if needed and is not as exposed to pests and diseases as rosemary that grows in the ground but requires more frequent watering and more maintenance.
  • Rosemary that grows in the ground can get larger and is easier to maintain than rosemary that grows in a pot, but it is also more exposed to pests and rough weather.

These are just some of the advantages and disadvantages, so keep reading because I created two tables which I share below, to give you the complete overview and to make it as easy as possible for you to decide if you want to grow rosemary in a pot or in the ground.

Growing Rosemary in a Pot – Pros and Cons

Here is an easy overview of the advantages and disadvantages associated with growing rosemary in pots or containers. Below the table, I elaborate a bit on each point.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Can be moved around easily if needed.Doesn’t get as large as if it grows in the ground.
Easier to avoid pests than if it grows in the ground.Grows slower than if it grows in the ground.
Easier to control watering than if it grows in the ground.Needs to be watered more often than if it grows in the ground.
Easier to control the soil’s pH than if it grows in the ground.Higher risk of overwatering.

Allow me to elaborate a bit.

Advantages:

  • Moving the plant can be really useful if the plant is not getting enough sun or if the weather is too rough, you can easily bring the plant inside. For me, this is the biggest advantage of growing rosemary in a pot.
  • Pests and diseases are less likely to attack rosemary in pots because they are harder to get to than rosemary that grows directly in the ground.
  • Watering is easier to control for rosemary that grows in a pot than rosemary that grows in the ground. Mostly because you can move the plant indoors in heavy rain, but also because there are no other plants in a pot whose roots are fighting for the water which there may be in the ground.
  • The soil’s pH is easier to control in a pot since it is a more isolated environment than the ground. Rosemary prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

The primary takeaway from this is that it is pretty easy to control the growing conditions for rosemary if it grows in a pot. You can read more about what the best growing conditions for rosemary are on this link.

Disadvantages:

  • Rosemary usually doesn’t get as large if it grows in a pot as if it grows in the ground, because there is less room for the roots to grow and spread.
  • Rosemary will often grow slower in pots than in the ground. Again, primarily because there is not as much room for the roots to spread, which inhibits them from obtaining water and nutrients as fast and efficiently as if it was growing in the ground.
  • Rosemary needs more frequent watering if it grows in a pot than if it grows in the ground. Again, this is mostly because of the roots, since larger roots allows the plant to obtain more water.
  • Overwatering rosemary that grows in a pot is unfortunately easier than if it grows in the ground, atleast in my experience. Luckily it is not that difficult to save overwatered rosemary. See how in this post.

Now for some advantages and disadvantages of growing rosemary in the ground.

Growing Rosemary in the Ground – Pros and Cons

Here is an easy overview of the advantages and disadvantages associated with growing rosemary in the ground. Below the table, I elaborate a bit on each point.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Can get larger than if it grows in a pot.It is difficult to move the plant.
Grows faster than if it grows in a pot.It can be difficult to control how much water the plant gets.
Will often get stronger than if it grows in a pot.More exposed to pests and diseases.
Requires less maintenance than if it grows in a pot.More exposed to frost.
Can live for longer than if it grows in a pot.

Allow me to elaborate a bit.

Advantages:

  • Rosemary will often get larger if it grows in the ground than in a pot. This is because there is more room for the plant’s root system to grow and spread which allows the plant to obtain more water and nutrients.
  • It will often grow faster in the ground than in a pot. Like above, this is also because a larger root system allows the plant to obtain water and nutrients better.
  • The plant will also often get stronger because of the larger and more well-established root system it can develop if it grows in the ground rather than in a pot.
  • Less maintenance is required for a rosemary plant that grows in the ground than one that grows in a pot. This is primarily because it rarely, if ever, needs to be watered because the large root system helps it obtain more water from the ground. It should still be watered in dry periods though.
  • It will often live for longer in the ground than in a pot. Again, this is mostly thanks to the root system since it allows the plant to become larger and stronger than if it was growing in a pot. You can read more about how long rosemary lives here.

Disadvantages:

  • Moving the plant can be really difficult if it grows directly in the ground. Especially if it is large and has a well-established root system. However, a large and well-established rosemary plant can withstand pretty rough weather and can even survive frost in most cases.
  • Watering is not as easy to control if the plant grows in the ground as if it grows in a pot because of the risk of rain. This can lead to the plant getting overwatered, although large and well-established rosemary plants can survive quite a bit.
  • Pests and diseases generally have an easier time getting to a rosemary plant if it grows directly in the ground than if it grows in a pot because there isn’t a physical barrierier between them and the plant.
  • Frost can be an issue for rosemary that grows in the ground, since the plant can’t be moved indoors easily. Large and well-established rosemary plants can take quite a bit though, but if you want to be sure, you can use a plant cover to protect you rosemary plant from frost at night in the winter.

Conclusion: Should You Grow Rosemary in a Pot or the Ground?

To help you decide if you should use a pot or not, I made some bullet points that summarize whether rosemary grows best in pots or the ground, and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

You should grow rosemary in a pot if:

  • You want to be in full control of the growing conditions.
  • You want to be able to move your plant around and bring it indoors in the winter or in rough weather.
  • You want to reduce the risk of pests and diseases attacking your plant.

You should grow rosemary in the ground if:

  • You want your plant to get as big as possible.
  • You want your plant to grow as fast as possible.
  • You are sure you don’t have to move the plant in the future.

Anders

My name is Anders, and I am the owner and writer here at Gardening Break. Gardening has always been a big part of my life. As a child, I would watch and learn as my parents worked in our garden or as my grandfather worked in his greenhouse. As I have gotten older, gardening has become a bigger and bigger part of my life. I have grown to enjoy it more and more, but I am also starting to realize just how much there is to learn about gardening, which is why I created Gardening Break in the first place; To share all the useful tips and tricks I learn along the way. You can read more about me and my mission with Gardening Break by following the "About Us"-link at the top and bottom of every page.

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