If you love the flavor and scent of rosemary, you’re in luck! This amazing herb is as easy to grow as it is to use. Plus, it’s packed with amazing medicinal and nutritional benefits. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about growing and using rosemary. I’ve gathered my expert know-how into one comprehensive resource to help you succeed.
So grab your spade and get ready to plant. Let’s get started!
Get to know rosemary: Introducing this fragrant herb
Rosemary is an evergreen herb that’s native to the Mediterranean region. It’s a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), which makes it closely related to oregano, basil, lavender, and other herbs. Rosemary grows best in warm climates with plenty of sun and in well-draining soil.
Rosemary has been used for centuries for its health benefits, medicinal properties, and culinary uses. It’s a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine and is often used to flavor soups, stews, vegetables, or as a garnish for dishes. Rosemary also makes an excellent addition to herbal teas and infused oils. You can use it fresh, dried, or powdered.
Growing rosemary: Tips for success
Choose the right variety
There are several species of rosemary, including the popular ‘Arp’ and ‘Hill Hardy.’ Before planting, research which varieties work best in your climate. You might also consider a variety such as ‘Tuscan Blue’ if you plan to use it for cooking, as this is often considered the most flavorful.
Grow from starts
Rosemary can be grown from starts or cuttings. To grow from a cutting, take a 4-6 inch stem and strip off the lower leaves before planting in soil. While you can grow rosemary from seed, it grows very slowly and has a low germination rate — not a great option if you want to harvest within the season.
Cultivate the soil
Plant your rosemary in well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter and slightly acidic, with a pH between 6-7. If you don’t know the pH level, buy some pH test strips to help optimize your soil. Rosemary doesn’t like soggy soil, so ensure it is well-draining to avoid root rot. If the soil isn’t acidic enough, add some extra compost or mulch to help improve the acidity level.
Choose the right container
As I mentioned above, rosemary doesn’t like wet feet. Plant it in the ground in a well-draining garden bed or in a pot with adequate drainage. Make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system and avoid using small, shallow containers. It does well in raised beds, so consider that if you don’t have a good spot in the garden.
Select the proper location
Rosemary loves sun and warmth, so choose a spot with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day. If you live in a cold climate, find a sheltered location that gets some shade during hot summer days — rosemary can’t tolerate extreme heat or cold. You might also consider growing it in a container that you can bring indoors if you live in a climate with long, cold winters.
Plant at the right time
Rosemary does best when planted in the early spring after any chance of frost has passed. Plant your rosemary about 18-24 inches apart to give it plenty of space for growth and air circulation. Remember that rosemary must mature for a few months before you can start harvesting its leaves.
Rosemary is a drought-tolerant plant, but it needs regular watering — especially when the weather gets hot. Aim for about one inch of water per week and let the soil dry out slightly between watering. Too much water can lead to root rot, so be careful not to overwater your plants.
Rosemary needs very little fertilizer, but it does benefit from regular feeding. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks to help encourage healthy growth and production of leaves.
Plant rosemary with friends
Rosemary companion plants include vegetables such as beans, carrots, and cabbage. Rosemary is said to improve the flavor of other herbs planted nearby and it does well when planted next to sage. Learn more about companion planting in my new guide! Check it out here.
Harvesting rosemary: Best practices
Rosemary is usually ready for harvesting about three months after planting. Once your plants have grown to at least 6-8 inches in height, you can begin to harvest the leaves. Make sure you only take what you need — this will keep your plant healthy and help it grow back faster.
When harvesting rosemary, cut the stems above a set of leaves. It’s best to harvest in the morning when the essential oils are most potent. You can cut off up to a third of the length in a single harvest.
You can also dry rosemary for later use — either hang it in bunches or lay it out on a sheet of newspaper. Once completely dry, store your rosemary in an airtight container or bag. You can use the dried leaves for seasoning dishes or making teas and herbal remedies.
Using rosemary: What you need to know
Rosemary is a versatile herb that can be used in many different culinary dishes. From roasted potatoes to sauces and marinades, there are so many delicious ways to use rosemary. You can also use it as an herbal remedy or make rosemary-infused olive oil for salad dressings.
Use in cooking
Rosemary has a slightly pungent and woody flavor that pairs well with poultry, lamb, fish, and vegetables. Add rosemary to soups, stews, grilled dishes, or roasted potatoes for an extra layer of flavor. You can also use it in marinades and sauces for added depth and complexity.
Rosemary recipe ideas
- Rosemary and lemon marinated chicken
- Creamy rosemary pasta
- Rosemary focaccia bread
- Rosemary-infused olive oil
- Lamb with rosemary and garlic potatoes
- Roasted red pepper, rosemary, and feta salad.
Use as an herbal remedy
Rosemary has long been used as an herbal remedy for improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and improving memory. You can make tea with fresh or dried rosemary leaves to enjoy its many medicinal benefits.
Rosemary remedy ideas
- Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to a hot bath for soothing muscle aches and pains.
- Brew a cup of rosemary tea to help ease digestion after a heavy meal.
- Make an infused oil with rosemary leaves and extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil — apply it topically to reduce inflammation.
Use as an aromatic agent
Rosemary is also great for adding a pleasant aroma to your home. Try simmering rosemary, mint, and lavender in a pot of water on the stove, or add some fresh sprigs to a vase of water. You can also tuck dried rosemary leaves into an old sock and place it in your wardrobe or closet for a fresh, herbal scent.
Rosemary scent ideas
- Place a few sprigs of fresh rosemary in your bathroom or kitchen.
- Add some dried rosemary leaves to potpourri for a woodsy fragrance.
- Make your own rosemary essential oil.
- Place a few drops of rosemary essential oil on your pillow or blankets for a pleasant and calming scent.
Enjoy experimenting with this ancient herb
No matter whether you’re growing rosemary for looks or to use in your cooking and home care recipes, this herb is sure to add flavor and life to your home and garden. Enjoy experimenting with rosemary, and follow me on Instagram at EarthenMamma for more ideas on using this fragrant plant.