Does Rosemary Need Full Sun?

Grow rosemary in full sun for best results. 6–8 hours of sunlight ensures the best growth. This tender perennial can go right into the ground in a location that is sunny most of the day in many locations. If you have very harsh winters, plant your rosemary in a container and place it in a sunny location. Then, move the container indoors on the coldest days to protect your growing plant.

Does rosemary need full sun?

How Many Hours of Sun Does Rosemary Need?

It’s recommended that rosemary plants get at least 6 hours of sun per day. Before you plant a rosemary bush in the ground, get to know your yard and garden. Since rosemary is also decorative, it is a plant that can thrive both as an edible herb or a decorative item — provided it gets the right care. Pick several ideal spots in your yard and garden and note the amount of sunlight that they get during the day.

  • Rosemary requires at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Up to 8 hours of direct sunlight is good for rosemary—it’s better to give it more sun rather than less.
  • Plant rosemary in warm locations—cold kills rosemary.

Keep that 6-hour minimum as a guideline; rosemary planted next to a building may end up more shaded than you like during the day, even if the spot is sunny for part of the day. If you don’t know where to place your rosemary so that it gets adequate sunlight, consider putting it into a container so you can move it around. This is also an ideal arrangement in areas that freeze at night in the winter. Even though rosemary is a perennial, it is tender, meaning that it can’t tolerate extreme cold well.

Can Rosemary Grow in Indirect Sunlight?

Though your rosemary plant can live in indirect sunlight, this is not the ideal condition for it. Since rosemary needs full sunlight to thrive, you may find that the plants that spend time in indirect light will struggle to remain healthy. 

  • Rosemary can sometimes grow in indirect sunlight, but it grows best in direct sunlight.
  • If you bring your rosemary plant indoors, it will get less sun. Do this only in cold conditions.
  • In cold regions, bring your rosemary indoors as soon as there is a chance of frost, especially during cold winters.

In some colder zones, it may be better to bring your rosemary indoors to find a sunny spot, prior to the first frost. While it may not grow as well as it does in the full sunlight of summer, it will stay alive in the indirect sunlight it receives indoors from a sunny window.

Can Rosemary Grow in Shade?

Unlike some sun-loving plants, rosemary can tolerate partial shade. However, full sun for a minimum of 6 hours a day is preferred. Your plants will look healthier and grow far better if you allow them to have the abundant sunlight they crave. 

  • Rosemary can grow in partial shade, but full sun is best.
  • It’s okay if your rosemary is partially shaded for parts of the day as long as it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Plant rosemary where it won’t be shaded by taller herbs in your garden.

Keep in mind that your herb garden will look very different at the height of summer than it does when you first add your rosemary and other herbs to the ground. Basil, lavender, and other taller herbs could create unwanted shady conditions once your plants begin to grow, blocking your rosemary away from the sunlight it needs to grow. Make sure you plant your rosemary where it will receive little or no shade from nearby plants.

What Happens When Rosemary Does Not Get Enough Sun?

You can tell your rosemary is not getting enough sunlight if it is struggling to produce new leaves, particularly if all other conditions are ideal. Rosemary that is in well-balanced, well-drained soil but that still isn’t thriving may simply be craving more sunlight. Rosemary should grow into a robust, large, bushy plant fairly quickly. Plants that become too spindly or fail to grow at all could be suffering from a lack of sunlight.

  • Sun-deprived rosemary will grow spindly and sparse, especially if not in well-draining soil.
  • Without enough sun, rosemary will not produce new growth.
  • If not enough sun is provided, your rosemary may die.

When your rosemary plants do not get enough sunlight, they simply won’t mature and grow the way they are supposed to. This will lead to disappointing yields if you are planning on harvesting the plants. In the worst-case scenario, with an extreme lack of sunlight, your rosemary will simply wither and die.

Can Rosemary Get Too Much Sun?

Rosemary is a sun-loving herb, but any plant can be damaged in hot, dry, overly sunny conditions. While rosemary will withstand sunny days better than more delicate herbs, it can still be harmed by excessive heat. Water in the morning on the hottest days, or set up a mister to keep your rosemary healthy in high heat.

  • It takes a lot of sun, but rosemary can be damaged by excess sun and heat.
  • Water rosemary in the morning during heat waves. Regular watering at this time will allow the water to feed rosemary roots before the heat can evaporate it.
  • Rosemary is more heat-resistant than most other garden plants.

While rosemary can definitely get too much sunlight, if it is planted with other, less hardy plants, they will be impacted well before your rosemary is. If your other herb garden plants are still doing well despite high heat and sunny conditions, your rosemary will be fine. If your basil, tomatoes, and other less hardy plants are suffering, you should begin to keep an eye on the rosemary as well, it could be next.

How Much Sun Does Rosemary Require?

Provide rosemary with at least 6 hours of full sun each day. If you are not sure how to tell what spot in your garden is best, rosemary will thrive in a container. You can then move the container to different locations until you find a spot where the plant thrives.

  • 6 hours of direct sunlight per day is the minimum for rosemary.
  • Rosemary can tolerate partial shade but it usually isn’t necessary.
  • Without enough sunlight, rosemary will struggle and become spindly.
  • Rosemary is very hardy but extreme sun and heat can damage it.
  • Water in the morning during hot summer conditions to keep your rosemary healthy.

Planting rosemary in the ground without checking the amount of sunlight could lead your plant to struggle or die. When in doubt, choose the sunniest spot you can find and keep an eye on the overall health and growth of the plant. Once you see that your initial rosemary plant is doing well, you will know that other sun-loving plants will enjoy the spot you have chosen as well.

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