Rosemary is one of the most commonly grown herbs in the garden. It is a decorative herb originating from the Mediterranean and bears small, blue or white flowers in late spring. It is a fantastically versatile herb in the kitchen, sprigs of rosemary can be added to roast vegetable medleys and to meats, including roast lamb. Rosemary is an evergreen, perennial shrub that thrives in good soil in full sun.
Rosemary is a hardy plant and will live for up to twenty years, growing to a height of around 1m. It requires minimal pruning and attention throughout the growing season.
Varieties of Rosemary
There are many varieties of rosemary:
- Rosmarinus Officinalis – this is the traditional variety; it grows to about 1m tall.
- Rosemary Capri – this is a dwarf variety that only grows to 10cm tall (ideal for smaller gardens or containers).
- Rosemary Genes Gold – this type is compact and has yellow edged leaves.
Rosemary prefers a light, sandy soil of medium to low fertility. However, rosemary will tolerate most growing conditions, as long as it is not waterlogged. Rosemary is difficult to grow from seed and is best bought as small plants from the garden centre. However rosemary can be propagated from cuttings. Take cuttings from a healthy plant in May or June. Using a sharp knife, take cuttings roughly 7.5cm from young shoots torn off at the stem. Strip the leaves from the lower 4cm of the cutting. Fill a 7.5cm pot with a mixture of sharp sand and standard potting compost and insert up to four cuttings around the edge of the pot. Water the compost from below and place in a propagator or cover it with a plastic bag. Place the pot on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. The cuttings should have grown roots within about 8-10 weeks. Transplant them into individual pots and transplant into the ground when they have developed a healthy root ball.
Rosemary should be planted outside in April. Dig a hole slightly larger than the size of its pot and add a handful of sand to the bottom of the hole. Place the plant in the hole and replace the soil around it, firming gently. Water the plant well and ensure the soil does not dry out until it is established.
Caring for Rosemary
Rosemary requires very little attention. It should not need feeding as it thrives on low fertile soils and will tolerate very dry conditions, once established. Prune the plant every autumn to keep the plant to the ideal size for your garden. It is also worth staking the plant to protect it from very strong winds.
Growing Rosemary in a Container
Rosemary is well suited to container growing, however you will need to use a large, deep pot as rosemary can grow up to 1m tall and has long, deep roots. Fill the pot with a mixture of sharp sand or grit and potting compost. Make a hole in the compost and place the plant in the centre, making sure the top of its root ball comes below the rim of the pot. Water the plant well and more compost around the area if necessary. Keep the container well watered during the summer months.
Rosemary is a great herb to grow in the garden. It is very easy to grow and will last for years. It can be added to a wide range of dishes and can be harvested all year round.