Three images of rosemary: a sprig on a wooden surface, a rosemary plant growing, and sprigs on a wooden cutting board. "Rosemary" is written in bold green letters across the top.

By Richard Flowers, ACCNP-Green Thumb Nursery-Ventura

Rosemary has a myriad of benefits when growing in your landscape. It is not bothered by deer or rabbits, tolerates salt spray, wind, alkaline soils, drought, and is cold hardy to 15°F. This shrub is easy to grow in containers, is very  attractive  growing in the ground, withstands a wide range of climates; ranging from hot inland locales to marine  environments. Rosemary is used as a ground cover for erosion control and utilized as an herb for cooking and seasoning. The oil of this plant is extracted and used in many natural pest control products . Most of all it is a tough, versatile, durable, and carefree subject that should be used in any landscape.

Being related to Mint, Lavender, Thyme, Sage, and originating from the Mediterranean (Europe) region makes Rosemary  appealing  for many uses through the ages. In ancient times it was believed to strengthen memory; in literature and folklore it is an emblem of remembrance and fidelity. During medieval times, it was thrown on the floor to mask body odor and poor sanitation practices. Medieval gardeners used it to ward away evil spirits. It was also used to season and disguise the taste and smell of gamy meat. Today, Rosemary is used for potpourri, medicinal tea, culinary herb, and a basic landscaping shrub or ground cover.

I will be sharing with you two types of Rosemary, one is upright and the other is trailing. The first one is the most common upright form. Botanically know as Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’ or simply Tuscan Blue Rosemary aka Upright Rosemary . This robust and erect shrub grows 4-7 feet tall and spreads out 4-5 feet. It encompasses bright lavender-blue flowers that  emerge among the fine, olive green foliage in the winter through spring.

Tuscan Blue Rosemary is the most  common type used for culinary practices. This aromatic herb with a distinct flavor is often used in a variety of foods ranging from breads to poultry and   pork dishes. To harvest, pick leaves at any point in the growing season when  not in flower. Snip individual leaves or stems. To dry Rosemary, use a rack or hang it upside down in bunches. Once stems are dry, strip the leaves from them.

The other type of Rosemary is called Trailing Rosemary (Rosmarinus prostratus). Prostratus means spreading or prostrate  growing. This variety  grows to 24-30″ tall, spreading or trailing outwards many feet. This type is great for erosion control or cascading down rock walls and large planters. The Pale blue flowers are subtle and nice. One of its most endearing attributes, is its strong tendency to develop fantastic, bare, ribbed and gnarly branches and trunks, festooned with shreds of ribbony bark. Solitary specimens trained and pruned to highlight this feature can be extremely effective.

When using Rosemary in the landscape you can use  the trailing type in large  swaths while combining  it with Upright Rosemary in another section along with its friends like Lavender, Sage and Thyme. This plant is is also effective when used with other Mediterranean type plants like  Lions Tail, Pride Of Maderia, and  Citrus or other fruit trees. Rosemary  is very useful  in a cooking garden and other parts of your landscape where attracting beneficial pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies are needed. The flowers on Rosemary are edible. Upright Rosemary is effective when used with  cactus and other succulents grouped together nicely. Rosemary is a fabulous herb for arid gardens. Did you know you can use Tuscan Blue Rosemary, as a sheared fragrant hedge. This plant makes a beautiful foundation shrub that provides year-round coverage.Rosemary makes an excellent potted plant, particularly in terra cotta for porch or patio Please note: when Rosemary is grown in a container, do not let it dry to the point of wilting. It may not recover. This plant is ideal for minimal care, water-wise gardens. Try using Rosemary in a rock garden. Upright Rosemary  lends itself  to making an attractive bonsai when done right.

Because Rosemary is  fast growing, pruning can be done at anytime from early spring to midsummer, however it is imperative to avoid cutting into stems that are dark and woody; these are less likely to sprout new growth than the younger wood. By pruning  your Rosemary plant  the result will be a thicker and fuller plant that encourages branching.

For optimum growth and to have your Rosemary thrive, it is best to provide a well draining soil. If  the soil does not drain so well, we recommend using Kellogg’s Amend  to help with the drainage and improve the soil. For best results when growing your Rosemary, follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Once  established it needs only occasional deep watering. Rosemary does not like wet feet. Feed with a slow-release fertilizer in spring.

We carry a generous amount of Rosemary for your gardening needs, stop by you favorite Green Thumb , we love to help.

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