A shrubby timeless perpetual herb, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean climate. It derives its name from a Latin word that means “ dew of the sea.” The native habitat of the plant is dry, sunny, and warm climates but not blazing hot sun. To cultivate rosemary, one needs well-drained soil and a minimum of 8 hours of sun every day. In warmer temperatures, rosemary can be grown in bushes that grow up to 6 feet in height.
What is Rosemary?
Like many herbs, rosemary is a member of the mint family and has a history rooted in ancient times. Greeks and Romans have traditionally used rosemary in their kitchen owing to its medicinal and mystical properties. It initially made its appearance in folklore in many countries as a symbol of fidelity between lovers and a deterrent to ward off evil spirits. The spike-adorned stems of the plant make it more attractive, finding its way in Christmas decorations, wreaths, and sprays. Indigenous to the Mediterranean climate, it is a perennial and regrows every year as long as the environment is feasible.
Types of Rosemary to Grow
1. Rosemary varieties for Cooking
Miss Jessup, Tuscan Blue, or Spice Island are ideal choices for cooking. They grow up to 4-6 feet tall, have large fragrant leaves, and hold the flavor when cooked or dried.
2. Rosemary varieties in pots
Blue Boy and Golden Rain grow well in pots as they have small leaves and grow in clusters. The foliage has a weeping habit with light yellow markings that become dark green.
3. Rosemary varieties for foliage
Rosmarinus Prostrates and Tuscan Blue grow up to 3-6 feet tall with deep blue flowers. Albus has white flowers and is useful for hedging. Severn Sea and Sudbury Blue have a lot of foliage with blue flowers. Collingwood Ingram grows with curved stems and grows about 2-3 feet tall.
Benefits of Growing Rosemary
A beautiful evergreen plant, rosemary is an aesthetic and culinary plant in both upright and creeping varieties. Apart from mint, thyme, and others, rosemary is a rudimentary herb with several benefits that deem fit to include in the home garden:
1. Flavoured Harvest
It pairs well with starches and squashes and is used for both stews and lemonades. Innovative chefs have included it in desserts too.
2. Health benefits
Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, the Rosemary has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to prevent cancer. It is also loaded with anti-aging properties and is a significant source of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and iron.
3. Evergreen plant
Rosemary is a perennial that stabilizes the soil and need not be cultivated every year.
4. Wonderful aroma
The enticing scent of rosemary makes it an excellent choice for aromatherapy. With its scent retaining memories, Rosemary also reduces stress levels.
5. Attract Pollination
Bees and hummingbirds are attracted to rosemary and pollen in winter and early spring when other plants do not.
6. Drought resistant and heat and cold tolerant
Although a Mediterranean plant, rosemary can thrive in areas without abundant rainfall. Rosemary is resistant to hot and cold weather and can survive sizzling conditions and cold nights as well.
How to Plant Rosemary
Planting rosemary is not complicated, and if you follow a few steps, you may be on your way to broadening your kitchen garden.
- Rosemary can be grown from seeds, but the germination process will take time. So, start from plant cuttings of established plants.
- Seeds or cuttings grow indoors within 8-10 weeks in good condition and can be ready for outdoor planting in 8 weeks.
- It is advisable to plant seeds and cut them indoors for 8-10 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- Choose and prepare the plant site. Make sure to choose a location with full sun.
- The site must also have well-draining soil. Rosemary does not like too much moisture and being constantly wet.
- There must be enough room for plants to grow as, on average, the plant can grow up to 4 feet in height and width.
- Plant near vegetables like cabbage, sage, beans, or other herbs.
- Plant the seeds and cuttings in well-drained soil. The soil temperature must be around 70 degrees centigrade.
How to Grow Rosemary
How fast does rosemary grow? How much sunlight does rosemary need? It is not difficult to grow rosemary. You can either grow rosemary in a pot or from seeds or cuttings in your garden. It is easier to propagate rosemary cultivation from stem cuttings rather than harvesting a new plant or seeds. Rosemary likes its roots to be undisturbed, so if you grow it in your garden, dig it in a pot for winter and preserve it.
- When indoors, place the pot in a cool yet sunny location with more humidity.
- Place small pebbles or stones on a plate, add water and keep the potted rosemary on top of the plate.
- Bring the pot to the sink to water rosemary plants and let the excess water drain out of the pot.
- Use a good potting mix for good drainage. You can make your potting mix ( 2 parts potting mix two parts peat, one part sand, and one part compost). Alternatively, you can use the same potting mix used for cacti.
- Plant them in early spring and space seeds 1 inch apart covered with a little potting mix if you want to grow rosemary from seed. Keep the mixture a little moist and not very wet.
- Cover the seeds with plastic wrap and keep the temperature to 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the seeds under intense sunlight.
- As you see the seeds germinating, remove the plastic and continue to grow the plants until you see several sets of leaves. Transfer each seedling into its pot or ground once the frost has disappeared.
- To grow rosemary from cuttings, cut about 3 inches of a stem from a fertile rosemary plant. Trim the leaves from the lower part of the stem (about 1½ inch) and dig that end into the soil about 3-4 inches.
- Keep the soil around the planted cutting moist and make sure not to make it too wet.
- Place the pot in a sunny location where the temperature will be about 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the cutting rooted in the soil for about eight weeks.
How to Harvest Rosemary
Once you have done the hard work, you need to know how to harvest it so that the yield is beneficial. A few tips to harvest rosemary:
- Chop the stems to use them fresh for cooking or hang them somewhere to dry.
- Bring the potted rosemary plants indoors in winter.
- Make sure to harvest young and tender stems for better taste
- Harvest about a third of the rosemary plant at a time so that the plant has some room and time to grow.
How to Preserve and Store Rosemary
Properly preserve and store Rosemary to use it as a dried herb. Just follow the below tips to make the best use of your harvest:
- To dry rosemary, hang it in bunches upside down or a rack until dry.
- Once the stems are dry, snip the leaves separately.
- Dry the sprigs of rosemary in the open and store them in an air-tight container in a cupboard.
- You could also freeze sprigs of rosemary.
- Alternatively, you could preserve them in vinegar and sprinkle them in oil or butter to flavor them.
How to Grow Rosemary Indoors in Winters
A few tips to keep your rosemary plant alive indoors:
- Quarantining rosemary house plants when brought indoors will keep them safe from pests, diseases, and hitchhikers.
- Place rosemary plants towards the south, where there is light. You could also use Grow Lights to keep your rosemary happy in winter.
- Keep the soil moist and do not overwater the plant. If the soil is too dry, there are chances that the plant will wither and die. Water when you see the soil is dry at the surface and allow the extra moisture to drain.
- Keep the plant away from harsh sunlight or harsh heat like a stovetop. 60-65 degrees is ideal for rosemary.
- Heating in winter could sap all the moisture in the home. Run a humidifier, mist your plant or place the plant on a tray of pebbles and water; this will increase the humidity around the plant.
How to Care For Rosemary
How big does rosemary get? However big it gets, it does need some tender love and care like every plant. The robust rosemary plant still needs some maintenance to keep it healthy and in produce:
- Sunny location- Rosemary plants thrive in direct sun during summer, and it needs at least 6-8 hours of sun.
- Water the plant diligently when the soil seems dry. The top inch of the soil must dry out in between two watering sessions.
- Replant in a bigger pot as it gets larger, and the roots fill the container. In a container, rosemary can grow up to 1-3 feet. Keep transferring to a larger container as the roots fill the pot.
- Pruning rosemary is excellent for getting a bushier plant. Prune the plant once you see flowers to keep it condensed.
Diseases and Pests Affecting Rosemary Plant
Rosemary plants generally resist diseases, but there are some cases where root rot, powdery mildew, and mold have destroyed the plant. You can prevent it by checking the plants regularly and make use of fungicides when needed. Prune overgrown plants to foster air circulation and reduce the incidence of diseases. Pruning stimulates new shoots and healthier growth.
Red spider mites, whiteflies, aphids, and spittlebugs are common pests that infest indoor rosemary plants. These suck on the plants causing the foliage to wilt and dry. Use organic insecticidal soap to keep pests away.
If the plant has developed scales/sedentary insects, clip off and throw the infected plant tips.
Rosemary is relatively an easy plant to grow and is ideal for any home herb patch. It is not difficult to maintain rosemary plants in humid climates with some good watering. Its intense flavor and aroma make it a popular food ingredient. The best part about rosemary is that it can be grown outdoors as well indoors. Follow the directions and tips provided in this article to get a healthy growth of Rosemary right in your garden.
1. Where Does Rosemary Plant Grow Best?
Rosemary grows best in sunlight and well-drained soil. If you do not have an area that receives sunlight continuously, then plant rosemary in a plant and keep moving it around where you get sunlight. Roots of the rosemary plant need air circulation, so make sure you do not plant it in soil with too much clay or compact soil.
2. Why Does Rosemary Plant Keep Dying?
There are several reasons for a rosemary plant to die. The most common reason is frost. Rosemary cannot withstand frost, and the leaves start wilting and dying. The middle portion of the plant will survive as long as the temperature does not fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Another reason could be not enough water or overwatering. The best way to water is to water the plant and let it dry completely before watering again. If you are blessed with abundant rain, then mix sand with soil. Too much sun could also destroy the plant. The rosemary plant needs only 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
3. Can Rosemary Plant Grow With Other Herbs?
Rosemary is an evergreen herb, unlike other herbs that last only for one season. It is therefore vital to choose a site where it will continue to grow for years. Sunny location and well-drained soil are essential for the healthy growth of rosemary. It can be grown in a vegetable garden and also be part of a home landscape. Rosemary is a fragrant plant and can therefore be a great addition to a sidewalk or porch.
Rosemary is a common herb used for flavor and garnishes almost any dish – from potatoes to steak. Instead of reaching for the store-bought can of rosemary, you can grow some and add it to your dishes. It is commonly grown by home chefs in a container, pot, garden, or by the kitchen’s window sill. So if you want to grow rosemary at home, the above comprehensive guide could get you started.