What is both a wonderful addition to food and a fragrant plant perfect for the garden? The answer is rosemary. This herb is actually a perennial and if you plant it in the right conditions, it will continue to offer you a helpful addition to your dishes all year long.
When to plant rosemary: A perennial shrub with the technical name Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary is a great addition to any garden. You should plant in the spring, once the soil temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While you can plant from seeds, they take two to three weeks to germinate and have a low success rate. A better option is to start with a cutting which will then grow to be a proper shrub. Rosemary can grow quite large, depending on the variety, so be prepared. However, you can annually cut it back by a third which will allow you to dry and store the herb for use throughout the year.
Planting Rosemary in Different Climates
While rosemary loves sunshine and warmth, it does not like its roots to get wet. A tropical climate may be too moist for it.
The perfect climate for rosemary is a dry climate. There should be lots of sunshine and the soil should be well-draining. Rosemary originates from the Mediterranean, so try to replicate this climate.
A temperate climate will usually produce nice rosemary. Just be careful as spring and fall can be wet, so you may need to amend the soil to allow for proper drainage.
While you can grow rosemary in a continental climate, it’s best to plant it in a container. The winters are most likely too cold and you will need to bring the plant indoors.
With cold temperatures and a lack of sun, rosemary will not grow in a polar climate.
Choosing Rosemary Seeds
With dark blue flowers, this is a great, all-purpose variety of rosemary. It can grow to be six feet tall, so make sure you have a lot of room for it.
With a stiff, upright design, the leaves on this variety are long and large. They have pale blue flowers and while you can definitely eat this shrub, it makes for a wonderful accent in a garden.
Unlike other, towering varieties, this one is quite petite at just three feet tall and two feet wide. the leaves have a golden color to them and the flowers are dark blue.
How to Plant Rosemary Seeds
Inside vs Outside
Rosemary is a perennial shrub and will grow year after year. However, it will only grow outdoors if there are the right requirements.
If you want to plant your rosemary outside in your garden, you need to live in an area that is a gardening zone 7 or higher. This means the temperature in the winter needs to be above 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t despair if you live in a colder area. Instead of planting your rosemary into the ground, simply plant it in a container. Then, when it starts to get cold outside, you can bring it indoors before placing it outside again in the spring.
Seeds vs cuttings
How to start growing rosemary isn’t as straightforward as you might think. While you can grow rosemary from seeds, it doesn’t do very well.
Unfortunately, the success rate of seed germination is quite low. You might be disappointed that your hard work doesn’t result in any viable rosemary plants.
Planting rosemary from seeds is possible, though, so if you’re set on it, you can still have success. It’s best to start your rosemary seeds indoors to give them a good head start. Be patient as it can take two to three weeks for your rosemary seeds to germinate.
An alternative to seeds is cuttings. You can take a cutting of an established rosemary shrub and then plant it in your garden.
Again, if your spring is rather cold, you can always start the cutting indoors. To do so, plant it about eight weeks before the last spring frost date.
Rosemary loves warmth. Always plant your rosemary in full sun as its natural climate is the Mediterranean region.
Another important location element is the soil. It should be well-draining as rosemary does not like its roots to be wet.
As for spacing, if left alone, rosemary can grow to be quite large. Some bushes can even grow up to six feet tall and four feet wide.
When planting, give your rosemary enough room to spread out. If you’re worried about it taking up too much space in your garden, you can plant it in a container.
Finally, rosemary makes for an excellent companion herb. You can plant it near carrots, cabbage, and beans as it will help repel certain pests.
How to Water Rosemary
You should try to maintain a regular water schedule with rosemary. The plant needs a moderate amount of water but doesn’t like it too much.
More established plants can do with less watering and there are many drought-tolerant varieties. This is a good plant if you live in a dry climate.
How to Grow Rosemary
While pruning is not essential when caring for your rosemary, it will keep the plant looking well and prevent it from becoming lanky. The best time to prune is during the spring and into late summer.
You can prune your rosemary so that you have a bushier plant, or you can prune it in a way where it is small and more manageable. Both are acceptable practices and won’t harm your plant.
When pruning, start by removing any dead flowers. Then, snip off any broken branches with a pair of sharp gardening scissors or pruning shears.
If you want a bushier rosemary plant, you can cut the outermost part of the plant by an inch. This will force the branches to split and they will then fill in the spaces in the plant.
If you want a smaller plant, simply cut the entire shrub back by a third. And, if you want to tackle an overgrown plant, cut it back every three months to keep it to a more manageable size.
Use as a herb
One of the primary reasons to have rosemary growing in your garden is to use it as a herb in your cooking. Whenever you want fresh rosemary, simply take a pair of sharp scissors and cut off a small branch.
During the winter, your rosemary will become dormant and you won’t be able to harvest it outdoors. However, if you have a cutting of the rosemary, you can bring it indoors and be able to have access to fresh rosemary all year long.
As we discussed earlier, rosemary can be grown outdoors year-round, but only if your minimum temperatures do not drop to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you know that your climate has cold winters, then the solution is to plant your rosemary in a container. This way you can bring it indoors and wait until the temperature warms up again in the spring.
Be sure to plan ahead. Rosemary doesn’t do well if it is constantly being dug up from the ground, so keep it in a container if you know you will need to bring it indoors.
For those that don’t have enough room to keep their rosemary plant indoors, there is one other method you can employ. Before winter sets, take a cutting from your rosemary plant.
This will be much smaller and easier to care for in the winter. Then, in the spring you can plant it in your garden and it will begin to grow again.
How long does rosemary take to grow?
Rosemary grows fairly quickly. While seeds can take two to three weeks to start germinating, if you plant them in the spring, you will have a decent-size plant in the summer.
As for rosemary that starts in the form of a cutting, it will grow even quicker. New growth on rosemary has the most tender taste so don’t be afraid to start cutting it for use once it starts to grow.
How to harvest and store rosemary?
You can either harvest fresh rosemary in small batches, as you need it, or in larger batches and then store it for later use. Both are acceptable and many gardeners use a combination of the practices.
If you want fresh rosemary, simply snip off small sections. Go for new growth as this will have the freshest taste.
Those that want to have rosemary during the winter should snip off large batches of the plant. You can cut up to a third of the plant at one time and it will keep growing.
Tie small sprigs together and hang them upside down. Once they are dry, place them in an airtight container and store them away from direct sunlight.
Rosemary is a wonderful, fragrant herb and grows as a perennial shrub. In warmer climates, you can plant it in your garden in spring and keep it there. In colder climates, plant rosemary in a container so you can bring it indoors during the winter.