Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
About This Herb
The herb known as rosemary is actually a perennial evergreen shrub in warm weather climates (zones 8-10). For hundreds of years rosemary has been used as a medicinal cure for health problems from headaches to dandruff. Gardeners who grow rosemary today use the savory herb’s aromatic dark green, needle-like leaves to add earthy flavor to all kinds of recipes.
How to Grow Rosemary
Rosemary is a member of the mint family, but has little in common with its relative. In warmer climates, like its native Mediterranean, rosemary can be trained to grow into a dense hedge.
In our region, rosemary can grow to 3 feet tall and just as wide when planted in the garden. Rosemary can also grow in a container planting, which makes it convenient for bringing inside during winter and training into a topiary.
Locate a sunny spot that’s slightly sheltered because rosemary can be a finicky annual when conditions are less than ideal. This herb prefers warm, dry soil so if you need to amend to add fertility make sure the soil drains well to keep roots from rotting.
If growing in containers, make sure the container is large enough and has holes for drainage. Use a quick-draining potting mix for containers and mix in a slow-release fertilizer before planting.
It’s difficult to start rosemary from seeds, so most gardener opt for planting transplants. Wait for the night-time temperatures to warm to a consistent 50-55 degrees before planting.
Give rosemary plants room to grow, spacing between 24-36 inches apart. Plants prefer soil that’s kept on the dry side. Avoid soggy soil for healthier plants.
Keep up with moderate watering and watch for any problems associated with too much water, such as wilting or yellowing leaves.
Feed about once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer to keep the plant healthy and growing its fragrant dark green leaves.
Start harvesting rosemary leaves by snipping a small stem and stripping the leaves from it. Rosemary can be used fresh or dried and stored for later use.
How to use Rosemary in the Kitchen
Rosemary adds depth and flavor to recipes, whether used fresh or dried. This aromatic herb flavors vinegars and butters, can be used in marinades and rubs for grilling, is good added to meat, fish, pasta and vegetable dishes, and adds a surprising new taste to breads, soups and stews.
Companion Plants for Rosemary
Plant rosemary with these companions:
- Other fragrant herbs like sage, lavender and tarragon
- In the perennial garden bed as an accent plant
- In the vegetable garden with beans, cabbages and carrots
Materials for Rosemary Success
- High-quality compost
- Quick-draining potting soil and containers
- Slow-release granular fertilizer
- Water soluble fertilizer
- Rosemary transplants