July 20, 2007

Rosemary is towards the top of my list of favorite herb plants for the home garden. It’s right up there with Bay Laurel, basil, and thymes.

This easy to maintain herb has much to offer the home gardener regardless of the type or size of your garden.

Rosemary, the Adaptable Herb Plant

Rosemary HerbRosemary will make itself right at home anywhere from the vegetable garden to the herb bed, and can even be incorporated within flower gardens and ornamental landscapes.

Rosemary can also be grown in containers and hanging baskets making it a great plant for the patio or deck. It is a perennial, but not very hardy, so if your garden in a cold weather climate you will need to treat it as an annual or bring it indoors over the winter.

This popular herb plant is unique in that its form and leaves resemble that of a pine tree or an evergreen shrub. Rosemary leaves are dark green and shaped like small pine needles. They give off a very distinct and aromatic fragrance when crushed or rubbed between the fingers.

As an extra bonus this herb plant will produce showy blue, white, or pink flowers that cover the plant during part of the summer growing season. The flowers are edible and can be used right along with the leaves in your favorite recipes or as a garnish.

Growing Rosemary in the Garden or Containers

To grow your own Rosemary it’s easiest to purchase a young plant from a local nursery or garden center. The plants are usually multiplied by taking cuttings by layering the branches of an established plant.

Rosemary does not require any special care, especially when planted in the ground within a garden. This herb is relatively drought hardy and isn’t fussy about soil type or its fertilization requirements.

Trailing Rosemary PlantThe upright rosemary plants are better suited to planting in the open garden and will produce a larger quantity of the herb for culinary use. The trailing varieties are very ornamental and great for growing in hanging baskets or containers.

The only difficult aspect of growing Rosemary is encountered by those growers in cold climates that attempt to over winter or grow the plants indoors. The plant can tolerate a moderate amount of cold weather but is temperamental when grown indoors.

They require good light when grown inside and containerized plants should be allowed to dry out slightly between watering.

Rosemary Varieties

Like basils and thymes, rosemary is offered in a wide assortment of strains and varieties. Some display an upright growth habit, capable of growing over four feet tall, while others are trailing and spread their branches closer to the ground.

Popular varieties of Rosemary include the following:

  • Pink Majorca (trailing)
  • Arp Rosemary (upright)
  • Tuscan Blue (upright)
  • Salem (upright)
  • Creeping Rosemary (trailing)
  • Santa Barbara (semi-upright)
  • White Rosemary (upright)
  • Spice Islands (upright)
  • Blue Boy (dwarf/trailing)
  • Miss Jessup (upright)
  • Huntington Carpet (trailing)
  • Collingwood (semi-upright)

Uses for Rosemary Plants

Potted Rosemary PlantOf course rosemary is best known for its culinary uses where it is a common ingredient in a variety of dishes and recipes. For fresh use simply harvest sprigs of the herb from the plants as needed. You can also dry the herb to preserve it for future use.

Rosemary is a popular component of herbal vinegars and infused oils where the herb will impart its aroma, flavor, and a tinge of color to your favorite oils or vinegars.

Another place where Rosemary is popular is in the cosmetic industry. You can find the herb included in many hair care products, soaps, lotions, oils, and even toothpaste. Rosemary also exhibits medicinal properties and is used for ointments, teas, and essential oils.

Then there are the other ornamental uses for the gardener and landscaper. Because of the ease with which the plant can be pruned and trained, Rosemary makes a great herbal bonsai plant or topiary.

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Your article about rosemary caught my attention. As a gift in DEC 2006, we received a large size rosemary plant. Its in a large sized part and grew well for the first several months, along with some strawberries, spearmint and a pumpkin seed that has now grown large. About a month ago the rosemary started to turn brown. Now, it looks dead, yet everything else is thriving. Is there anything we can do to revive the rosemary? The big pot is in the shade at all times. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  • Kenny Point

    If your rosemary plant has turned brown and looks dead there probably isn’t much that be done to revive it. Rosemary is usually pretty easy to grow even in containers, but I did have trouble with one of the large Christmas tree shaped plants that was purchased from a garden center. Take your plant and pop it out of the container to check the root system. The problem could be that the rosemary is severely root bound. In which case a little root pruning and a larger container would have been in order. If that isn’t the issue the rosemary plant may have suffered from improper watering… Rosemary should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings.

  • I was definitely sad to say farewell to my rosemary plant at the end of the season last year — I’d love to grow one in the house, but I just don’t have the right kind of light for it, I don’t think. But rosemary is a wonderful plant — I love how it looks, and definitely love how it smells and tastes!

  • Thanks for the tips!

  • Chris

    Hi Kenny. I really enjoyed using your books this year when I built some raised beds. I have a couple fall questions if I might. I live in Pittsburgh, PA and love growing rosemary. I normally do it in pots, but this year I planted a few in my raised beds. They are doing well, as if possible I would like to just leave them in teh garden vs digging them up and moving them inside. Is that possible in our climate? I also grew strawberries this year. I am planning on covering them with straw and bird netting (it gets windy on the top of the hill where I live). When should I do that? I have heard that I should wait till a solid freeze before I cover them, but some people also say to cover them sooner.


  • Kenny Point

    Hi Chris, thanks for purchasing my eBook and sharing your comments about it. I’m afraid that Rosemary isn’t very reliable when it comes to surviving the winter outdoors in PA and I haven’t had much success over-wintering them. They are even temperamental when brought inside as they are not too happy about living inside the home either. I think you should hold off on covering the strawberries, here’s a Penn State link on mulching them for winter protection: Good luck!

  • Katherine Galvin

    When should rosemary be fed, if at all?

    What is the best food and time of feeding for rosemary?

    Thanks very much.


  • Kenny Point

    Hi Katherine, I grow my Rosemary more as an annual and don’t get too fussy over fertilizing it. If you’d like I’m sure it would appreciate side-dressing with compost or worm castings. Or you could apply a dose of a liquid organic fertilizer once a month or so, especially if the plant in grown in a container.

  • Joseph Tong

    I just bought a rosemary plant about 2 weeks ago and now some part of it started to turned brown. I water it every morning. Is there anything I can do to revive it?

  • Hi um I would like to know what is the difference between a rosemary and cinnamon plant?

  • shravani

    Can anyone reply to me what is Telugu name for rosemary?

  • Pingback: Brain Health Improved By a Compound in Carrots, Peppers « Welcome at VedantaToday()

  • pradeep

    I am also looking for the name for rosemary. Can any one please tell me ?

  • La Donna

    I have 7 Huntington Carpet Rosemary plants that all did well last year. They are now brownish grey with spindly looking tentacles. They are not breaking, but only two plants have a little green foliage. Are they dead or dying?

  • sarah mitchell

    I would like to know if i can keep rosemary in the refrigerate

  • Leah Janssen

    I would like to know if I can still eat the leaves off of my rosemary plant if it has already died (or is currently on it’s death bed–and yes, I’m trying to save it!). The leaves appear to be just dried out, and fall off the plant easily. Is it ok to consume those leaves, as if I had dried them myself?
    Thank you for any comments/suggestions.

  • Donna

    I have killed my rosemary plant. But can the leaves still be used? Hate to waste. There is no mold. the plant is dried out. Would this be the same if I had just cut and dried myself or is there a difference when they dry on the plant?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Donna, I don’t think there would be any harm in using the leaves… it may not be as good as a healthy plant that was cut and dried but it would still be edible. I’ve killed more than my share of Rosemary plants and still haven’t had any success getting one to over winter here in PA.

  • Chris


    I wanted to let you know that somehow I accidentally managed to get a rosemary plant to overwinter last year in Pittsburgh. a fluke I am sure, but I was pleasantly surprised this spring when it was alive. The secret? LOL, lazyness, I neglected to weed that section of the bed and it got over run before the snow it. i guess it provided enough insulation for the rosemary to make it thru the winter. it didnt do great, but it did live. 🙂

  • Kenny Point

    Thanks Chris, that’s good to know and I will try to overwinter a Rosemary plant outdoors this winter and use more cover to protect it… I even have difficulty getting them to survive indoors without drying out before spring returns.

  • Kevin

    Hi Kenny,

    Just need a little information please.I visited a hospital with my girlfriend last week and standing outside i noticed a huge rosemary bush and i have always wanted to grow my own now i took a couple of cuttings from the bush and planted them in pots on my balcony they seem to be doing fine my question is can i cook with it once it grows.


  • Tiffany


    Last summer I received a small rosemary plant as a gift. It was doing very good for quite some time. Normally I go the extra mile and take my plant with me whenever I leave for more than two days. For spring break I wasn’t able to take my plant, but I thought nothing of it. It’d only be a week. I watered it and left it where it’s always been, on my desk in front of the window (direct sunlight for most of the afternoon). When I came back I was horrified to see my poor little rosemary plant had dried out! It’s not brown or anything, just dry. The soil is still wet but the branches and leaves are dry. Is there anything I can do to sav my poor rosemary plant?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Tiffany, sorry to hear about your rosemary plant. They can be difficult to water evenly and once they show signs of drying out like that it is usually too late to save them. You could try submerging the entire pot into a container of water for a few minutes and then allow it to drain. Then just keep an eye on it and water as needed depending on your weather conditions and see if it will recover. Good luck!

  • joby.a.a

    Is Rosemary a tropical plant and where is it grown plenty?

Previous post:

Next post: