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Rosemary's evergreen foliage is a staple in any herb garden. Known for their wonderful flavoring in poultry dishes and other recipes, rosemary can also be grown as an ornamental. In areas where these plants are not winter hardy, they can be grown as an annual. Because of their Mediterannean heritage, these plants love hot and dry weather. Grow rosemary plants near paths and walkways to release their signature scent as you brush past them.
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From 1 to 8 feet
2 to 4 feet
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 are using the rosemary in your recipes. Poor air flow and high humidity are also major contributors to powdery mildew and loss of flavor in the herb. Additionally, watch out for spider mites, mealy bugs, whitefly, and aphids.
If you are growing rosemary as an annual or a potted plant, try growing them indoors. However, this is generally no easy feat for rosemary, who 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.
The best time to harvest your rosemary for its delicious leaves is in the morning, just after any dew has evaporated off. You can snip rosemary stems throughout the growing season to use fresh, or cut a bunch to dry in the fall. To use rosemary, strip needles from 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.
To preserve rosemary for use later, air-dry stems by bundling and hanging upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store 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 frozen stems. Chop rosemary well before using.
Pulverize dry leaves before adding to dishes, herb blends, or sauces to release aromatic oils and to make them easier to chew, as the dried leaves can be quite tough. Rosemary's texture and flavor varies throughout the season—leaves are tender in spring, with fewer aromatic oils. By late summer, foliage packs a more potent flavor. Toss late summer stems onto grilling coals to infuse meat with delicious flavor.
Garden Plans for Rosemary
More Varieties for Rosemary
'Roman Beauty' rosemary
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
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 4-8 feet wide, and bears light blue flowers. Zones 8-10
'Tuscan Blue' rosemary
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue' is one of the best rosemary varieties for topiaries. It develops dense blue-green foliage that's easily sheared to any shape. It's highly fragrant and has many uses in the kitchen. It grows 4 feet tall. It grows as an annual except in Zones 8-10.