Rosemary is classically fragrant and deliciously pungent. It nicely flavors olive oil, butter, meats, vegetables, and even fruit. It’s also resilient, which means it’s a common landscaping staple in drought-resistant yards. Another plus: if you grow beans, rosemary can help protect against bean pests.
type of perennial: herb
Tuscan Blue, Blue Spires, Boule, Salem. It’s helpful to pick rosemary that’s regionally compatible.
WHERE ROSEMARY THRIVES
Rosemary can’t grow in cold temperatures quite as handily as many other herbs. If you live in cold northern climates, rosemary may be an indoor or annual plant for you. However, rosemary grows well in all climates on the hot and dry end of the regional spectrum.
Optimal shade & sun
Full, direct sunlight is preferable for growing rosemary, which should ideally get about 6 to 8 hours of sun a day.
Adaptability to climate extremes
Rosemary is not necessarily a hardy herb. In cold climates, for instance, it can only be grown as an annual. On the other hand, rosemary nicely tolerates hot and dry extremes.
Rosemary is very drought resistant, particularly when the plant has been in the ground for 1 to 2 years.
PREP YOUR SOIL
Optimal type of soil
Rosemary thrives in a sandy loam soil, that is, soil that generally contains moderate to high levels of sand, small amounts of silt and small to moderate amounts of organic loam. It also drains well. Soil that is too rich or waterlogged will inhibit rosemary’s growth. If you don’t have, or don’t want to cultivate, sandy loam soil, water minimally. Rosemary likes dry soil.
Rosemary is a slow grower in its first year, so starting from seed is not a great bet unless you’re ready to be very patient. Instead, begin with 3-inch cuttings indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the spring’s last frost or buy plants from a garden supply store. Transfer the plants outside when it warms up. It typically takes about 8 weeks of growth to be ready.
Best time of year to plant
If you live in a warm, temperate climate you can plant rosemary virtually any time of year. If it gets very cold in the winter, start your plants indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost.
Thyme, sage, cabbage, carrots, and beans all make great companions. Rosemary is a deterrent for many bean parasites so if you have beans consider planting some neighboring rosemary.
Rosemary produces flowers of varying colors in the spring. Rosemary grows slowly in its first year but speeds up during its second year. It can grow to be 2-5 feet tall.
Rosemary grows best in soil that’s not moist. In fact, once rosemary is established you only need to water it in times of drought. Since rosemary is prone to root rot it’s easy to overwater. On the other hand, if it’s grown in a pot it’ll need to be watered regularly.
Mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies can plague rosemary plants.
Powdery mildew is rosemary’s most likely assailant and in humid climates root rot can also become a problem. Keep your rosemary well-harvested, well spaced, drained, and well-circulated to prevent such issues. Most importantly, don’t over-water.
Particular growing challenges
One barrier to growing rosemary for the first time is its slow growth. Hang in there - once it has taken root it’s pretty sturdy.
Clip off rosemary stems with sharp sheers whenever you need to. To avoid stressing it, it’s best to harvest rosemary in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
Refrigerate in a sealed plastic container or plastic bag, or hang bundles in a warm and dry spot.
Rosemary’s tiny leaves dry quickly and can be stored and used as a dry seasoning or rub.