Do rosemary plants exhibit phototropism? I bought a rosemary plant from a nursery with its woody stem not perpendicular to the soil surface (about 50 deg between the soil and the stem). While its branches and leaves grew perpendicular to the soil surface, it did not form a "straight" line with the stem (less than 180 deg between the bulk of branches and the stem). I just did not like how it looked.

I re-potted it with the stem sticking straight up from the soil, but now the leaves and branches are the ones that are leaning to one side. I tried to "correct" this by rotating the pot of the plant such that it is leaning/facing away from the sun, assuming that, just like any other plants in my garden, it would bend towards the light and "fix" itself to stand upright. But it has already been a week since I did this and nothing has changed.

Could it be that they do not respond to phototropism? (But they shouldn't have grown this way if it doesn't). Could it also be that only the new growths grow towards the light as older branches have started to become woody and stiff so they are not able to "bend"?

3 Answers 3


Rosemary are shrub-like plants: they tend to growth sideways. I think because they growth relatively slow, "they want" to cover soil as much as possible, to prevent other plant to growth and make shadows.

As I saw on various rosemary plants, there is not phototropism in strict sense. If you wait months, you should see that suddenly a new shot will start in the sunny part, and it will growth stronger. By pruning tiny branches (e.g. for cooking), you may accelerate this. But for this reason, I never saw a straight rosemary (with a ordered form).


Most Rosemary plants do exhibit phototropism - growth tends to go upwards, but their natural growth habit is gawky, there's nothing neat about a rosemary plant as it gets a little older - you may get woody branches going sideways, even pointing downwards, with fresh growth on them which usually points upwards initially. There is a form 'Miss Jessop's Upright' which tends to be taller and narrower, with more upright growth, but even that sprawls and spreads sideways as it ages. The only way to have a 'neat' Rosemary plant over time is to prune and shape it periodically. I grow it on my balcony in a container specifically for culinary use, but usually, after three years or so, I can't stand the look of the gawky shape and replace it with a young plant.

In soil in the garden, it can get 6 x 6 feet, and when I've come across one of similar size, I used to just clip it over once or twice a year to get a neater, rounded shape.


Some rosemary plants are prostrate in form- perhaps you have this variety? Here's a picture of my own plant for comparison. Note that some of the branches do tend to rise vertically.

enter image description here

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