Planting Rosemary Brings You
Lovely Looks & Great Taste
Try planting rosemary separately from the rest of your herbs to experience its appeal as an ornamental topiary. This sweet, aromatic herb adds a spicy fragrance to your landscaping. Just brushing gently against the leaves releases essential oils that will linger on your fingers for hours.
Use this spice to flavor meats, stews, breads, and sauces. It blends particularly well with thyme and sage. Rosemary has a sweet pine-like odor that makes it perfect for a sachet to freshen up your linens.
Planting & Care
As with many Mediterranean herbs, growing rosemary requires plenty of sun and not much else. Sandy, well drained soil and occasional water during dry months will give this plant everything it needs. This hardy herb should be purchased as an existing plant since it does not always grow true from seed.
Planting rosemary from cuttings is fairly easy. Obtain a 2-3” cutting from new, tender growth on an existing plant. Strip all the leaves off of the bottom half of the stem. Some herb gardening specialists recommend dipping the stem in a root stimulating hormone prior to planting. If you want to skip the hormones, you can start roots by placing the cut ends in non-chlorinated water instead. Use several cuttings with this method since some won’t thrive.
If you live in an area that experiences hard freezes (below 27 degrees), plant this herb in a container and bring it inside during the winter. Growing rosemary throughout the winter requires a strong, consistent light source. A plant light should be used at least 6 hours a day to keep this herb evergreen.
Prune the top of the plant to encourage it to branch out. Repot it each year with fresh soil. If you are growing rosemary in a pot, don’t let it get either totally soaked or completely dried out.
Aphids and spider mites tend to be a problem for indoor plants. Use a non-toxic soap spray to keep these under control. You may notice a powdery white mildew on your rosemary. This means the humidity is too high for optimal health. In areas that receive lots of rain, you may not be able to avoid this fungal growth. It won’t kill your rosemary (and doesn’t affect the flavor), but it does weaken the plant somewhat.
Harvesting & Storage
This herb gardening favorite overwinters well outdoors in the Southern part of the U.S. where there are no hard freezes. It can be harvested all year long in mild climates. Clip off a short sprig to add whole to your favorite recipes. Crush the leaves slightly to release the oils. Remove the woody stem prior to serving the dish.
Hang stems to dry in a cool, well ventilated space. Strip the leaves into an airtight container and store them for later use. If your rosemary blooms, use the flowers as a decorative touch on salads or other side dishes.
Image courtesy of CC license by Flickr user Michael_Lehet