While most herbs are grown for their fragrance and for culinary and medicinal uses, rosemary has the additional benefit of being a beautiful landscape plant that is a great shrub in warmer climates. However, rosemary plants are first and foremost culinary herbs. I love roasting new potatoes in olive oil sprinkled with rosemary leaves. Woody rosemary sprigs can also double as flavorful skewers when you grill veggies and meats on them. In addition, rosemary can add flavor to vinegars and oils. It reportedly has medicinal properties as well.
- A member of the mint family, rosemary traditionally has blue flowers in summer and is an evergreen. Arp is one of the most cold-tolerant rosemary varieties, withstanding temperatures to -10 degrees F. Tuscan Blue is a large variety, growing up to 7 feet tall. Nancy Howard produces white flowers, while Pink Flowered Majorica offers violet-pink blossoms. Prostrate is a creeping variety that can grow in rock gardens, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
In warm climates, rosemary plants can grow large enough to be sheared as hedges or used as landscape plants. In cold climates, they are grown as an annual herb since most rosemary plants are only hardy to USDA Zone 7. Since rosemary is a Mediterranean herb, give it conditions that it is accustomed to such as full sun, well-drained gravelly soil and little competition from other plants. Space plants 3 to 6 feet apart depending on the variety.
Fertilize rosemary with compost in spring and mulch to reduce weed competition. Harvest stems of rosemary when needed. When you cut the stems, try not to deform the shape of the plant. This should not be hard because rosemary is a vigorous grower. In areas where rosemary is marginally hardy pile bark mulch on top of the plant in late fall to help it overwinter. In colder climates grow rosemary in containers that can be brought indoors in fall. If you grow rosemary indoors near a sunny window, keep it moist and provide good air circulation as it can survive the winter and be placed back outside again in spring.