Rosemary

This beautiful shrubby plant can tolerate drought well, while growing plenty of scented leaves for flavoring recipes.

Rosemary Overview

Description Known for its wonderful scent and flavor, rosemary can also be grown as a garden ornamental. In areas where these plants are not winter hardy, they can be grown as an annual. Because of their Mediterranean heritage, these plants thrive in hot and dry weather. Grow rosemary near paths and walkways to release its fragrance as you brush past it.
Genus Name Rosmarinus officinalis
Common Name Rosemary
Plant Type Herb, Perennial, Shrub
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 2 to 4 feet
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Zones 10, 8, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Rosemary Care Must-Knows

Rosemary needs well-drained soil to survive. It will slowly suffer in heavy and moist clays, especially during winter.

Rosemary thrives in full sun. Part sun drastically increases the likelihood of problems, such as powdery mildew, a foliar fungi that is generally harmless but unsightly, especially if you're using the rosemary in your recipes. Poor airflow and high humidity are also major contributors to powdery mildew and loss of flavor. Additionally, watch out for spider mites, mealy bugs, whitefly, and aphids.

Growing Indoors

If you're growing rosemary as an annual or a potted plant, try growing it indoors. However, this is generally no easy feat, since rosemary likes it hot and dry with plenty of sun. So in the home, make sure plants are in full sun if possible—southern exposure is best. Often, plants may not grow much indoors and will simply survive until they're back outside. Supplemental lighting can make a big difference in anything less than full sun.

Harvest Tips

The best time to harvest your rosemary is in the morning, just after any dew has evaporated. You can snip stems throughout the growing season to use fresh, or cut a bunch to dry in the fall. To use rosemary, strip the needlelike leaves from the stems and chop before adding to dishes. Store fresh rosemary up to one week in the refrigerator by placing the stems in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.

Preserving Rosemary

To preserve rosemary for use later, air-dry the stems by bundling and hanging them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. Once they've dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store them in an airtight container. Dried, whole rosemary can retain its flavor for up to one year. You can also freeze whole stems in a plastic bag. To use, strip as many leaves as you need from the frozen stems. Chop the leaves well before using.

Pulverize the dry leaves before adding them to dishes, herb blends, or sauces so the aromatic oils are released and they're easier to chew, as the dried leaves can be quite tough. Rosemary's texture and flavor varies throughout the season—leaves are tender in the spring, with fewer aromatic oils. By late summer, the foliage packs a more potent flavor. Toss late summer stems onto your grilling coals to infuse the meat with delicious flavor.

More Varieties of Rosemary

Arp Rosemary

Arp rosemary
Jerry Pavia

Rosmarnus officinalis 'Arp' forms a sturdy shrub three to five feet tall and two to three feet wide. It thrives in average, well-drained soil. Zones 6–10

'Tuscan Blue' Rosemary

'Tuscan Blue' rosemary
Peter Krumhardt

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue' is one of the best rosemary varieties for topiaries. It develops dense blue-green foliage that's easily sheared into any shape. It's highly fragrant, and has many uses in the kitchen. It grows four feet tall. It grows as an annual except in Zones 8–10.

Trailing Rosemary

Trailing rosemary
Dean Schoeppner

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus' has a trailing growth habit that looks great cascading over a retaining wall or trailing down a raised bed. It is also called creeping rosemary or prostrate rosemary, and it makes an effective groundcover. It grows 18–24 inches tall, spreads four to eight feet wide, and bears light-blue flowers. Zones 8–10

'Roman Beauty' Rosemary

'Roman Beauty' rosemary
Denny Schrock

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Roman Beauty' is a compact, slow grower with a semitrailing form, growing just 12–16 inches tall and spreading 18–24 inches wide. It grows more upright than trailing rosemary, but still creates a cascading effect in the landscape or in container gardens. It has violet-blue flowers and fragrant gray-green foliage. Zones 8–10

'Gorizia' Rosemary

'Gorizia' rosemary
Denny Schrock

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Gorizia' is noted for its exceptionally wide leaves, often twice as broad as common rosemary. It grows four feet tall and wide, and it bears clusters of light blue flowers from late winter through summer. Zones 8–10

Golden Variegated Rosemary

Golden variegated rosemary
Dean Schoeppner

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Aureus' has green needlelike leaves with gold flecks. This rosemary is an upright grower that reaches two feet tall and spreads equally wide. It has pale blue flowers in spring. Zones 8–10

'Majorca Pink' Rosemary

'Majorca Pink' rosemary
Denny Schrock

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Majorca Pink' has unusual pinkish-lavender blooms in spring with repeat blooms in summer. It's an upright plant growing four feet tall and two to four feet wide. Zones 7–10

'Benenden Blue' Rosemary

'Benenden Blue' rosemary
Denny Schrock

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Aureus' has green needlelike leaves with gold flecks. This rosemary is an upright grower that reaches two feet tall and spreads equally wide. It has pale blue flowers in spring. Zones 8–10

Barbecue Rosemary

Barbecue rosemary
Marty Baldwin

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Barbecue' is a selection developed for its excellent flavor and aroma. It can grow four feet tall and will develop beautiful blue blooms. It grows as an annual, except in Zones 8–10.

Garden Plans for Rosemary

Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan

garden outside tan house with fountain
Peter Krumhardt

This informal mixed garden bed features drought-tolerant trees, evergreen shrubs, perennials, and annuals.

Download this plan!

Easy Slope Garden Plan

Fragrant Slope Garden Plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

This mix of easy annuals and tough perennials will beautify any slope. Follow this garden plan to get the look in your green space.

Click here to get this garden plan.

Planting Plans Inspired by the White House Kitchen Garden

Cool Season Kitchen Garden illustration
Illustration by Michael Burns

Grow a 4x12-foot version of the White House Kitchen Garden (designed by BHG garden editors) on your own south (or east or west) lawn. All you need is a spot that gets six or more hours of sunshine each day.

Get this garden plan!

Classic Herb Garden Plan

Classic Herb Garden Plan
Illustration by Gary Palmer

Ensure your kitchen is always stocked with fresh herbs with this classic herb garden plan, where ten kinds of hers surround a decorative sundial in a 6-foot-diameter bed.

Download the plan.

Colorful Herb Garden Plan

Colorful Herb Garden Plan
Illustration by Gary Palmer

Get an herb garden that dazzles with this colorful plan, where a 3x8-foot border features foliage with purple, green, and golden hues—including variegated leaves.

Click here to download this plan!

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