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Growing a Rosemary Hedge in Australia

Rosemary is a lovely culinary herb that also makes an attractive addition to your garden as an ornamental and can even be clipped and grown as a dense hedge.

Being a Mediterranean plant, rosemary prefers areas with hot, dry summers and mild winters. However, the plant is fairly adaptable and will grow in many parts of Australia. The only thing that rosemary doesn’t like is wet or waterlogged soil.

In general, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) can reach a height of around 1.5 metres and can spread to a width of around 2.5 metres. However, it can be clipped to any height that you prefer.

This makes it ideal for planting as a border hedge around your vegetable garden or as a screening hedge to create separate ‘rooms’ in your garden. It’s also highly aromatic and produces lovely pink, blue, or white flowers in late winter and early spring.

Here’s everything you need to know about growing a rosemary hedge.

Where and when to plant your rosemary hedge

Choose a sunny spot for your rosemary hedge. As mentioned, rosemary loves the heat in summer and should receive around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. 

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The best time to plant your rosemary hedge is in early spring. This will give the plants plenty of time to become established before having to deal with the hot summer and colder winter.

How to prepare the soil

Rosemary prefers neutral to alkaline soil and doesn’t really like too much acidity. Therefore, you should do a soil test before getting ready to plant your rosemary hedge.

If your soil is acidic, you can add some lime to it to raise the pH level. You should raise the pH level to above 5.5.

You also need to ensure that the soil is well-drained because rosemary doesn’t like wet soils. Other than that, rosemary is not too fussy about soil types and will live quite happily even in poor-quality soils.

Don’t be tempted to add loads of compost because this will only acidify the soil.

How to plant your rosemary hedge

To get a nice dense hedge you want to space your plants around 45 to 60 cm apart. Try to use plants of the same cultivar so that your hedge is nice and uniform.

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Plants from the Rosmarinus officinalis species are the best for hedging because they have an upright growth habit and can be trimmed to create a nice bushy plant.

Some good varieties include:

  • Rosemary ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’ with lovely pale blue flowers
  • Rosemary ‘Lady in White’ with pretty white flowers
  • Rosemary ‘Majorca Pink’ with delicate pink blooms

Another good variety to consider is Rosemary ‘Benenden Blue’. This is a cultivar from the Rosmarinus angustifolia species. It produces masses of pale blue flowers in spring through to early summer. If the climate is fairly mild, it may even flower in autumn if you trim it back after its spring flowering.

Planting your rosemary hedge is simple. Just dig your holes twice the size of the rootball so that the roots have room to spread out. Take the plants out of the pots, tease the roots out gently and place the plants in the holes. Backfill around the roots and water.

How to care for your rosemary hedge

Rosemary makes an excellent hedge because it’s virtually a maintenance-free plant except for some regular trimming. After you’ve planted your rosemary in the ground, do some regular tip pruning to create a nice bushy shape.

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Once the hedge is established, you only need to prune it once a year after flowering. However, it’s fine to trim it more often if you want to in order to keep a nice rounded shape. You can use pruning shears for this but be careful not to cut back to old wood.

It’s also not necessary to fertilise your rosemary hedge because this plant will thrive in low-nutrient soils and over fertilising can cause problems.

Rosemary is also very drought-tolerant so it shouldn’t need supplementary watering unless you’re experiencing extended periods of dry weather in summer. In fact, you should never overwater your rosemary hedge and refrain from watering in winter.

However, you should water your young plants at least once a week until they have time to become fully established.

Problems, pests, and diseases

Thanks to its aromatic qualities and its production of essential oils, rosemary is fairly pest-free. It also doesn’t suffer from any major diseases here in Australia.

However, if you see the tops of your rosemary looking a little dry, it could either be a case of over or under-watering. Check the soil and if it’s dry, then give your plant a good soak.

If the soil is still damp, you could have a problem with root rot or waterlog. If this is the case, you’ll have to dig the plant out of the ground and check for damage to the roots.

You might be able to save the plant by cutting back the damaged roots, improving the drainage in the soil, and then replanting.

FAQ

How tall do rosemary hedges grow?

In general, a rosemary hedge can reach a height of around 1.5 metres depending on the variety your choose.

How fast does a rosemary hedge grow?

Rosemary can often be a slow grower but it shouldn’t take more than a couple of years for your hedge to reach a decent height. This is especially the case if you practice regular tip pruning during the active growing period.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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