The name of Rosemary has two main meanings. The first is “Rose of Mary” which carries biblical references. It’s said when the Virgin Mary passed over shrubs of rosemary, her mantle brushed the flowers and turned its white flowers to blue. The second interpretation means “Rose of the Sea” because, in ancient times, they believed it only grew near seaside areas around Greece and North Africa.
Rosemary’s piney, sweet smell is a time-honored herb. It’s used in soups, stews and sauces along with being an excellent seasoning for pork and poultry. Rosemary is rich in folklore and has a slew of medicinal uses for headaches, the seasonal flu and improving memory. Its pretty little flowers create a dense space perfect for pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
But is rosemary a perennial? Can it be grown through the winter months? The answer is YES!
“Perennials” are plants that grow for more than two years and rosemary is one such plant. Actually, it’s a tender, evergreen shrub blooming in summer. Rosemary sits in the same family as mint and lavender, called Lamiaceae.
In order for rosemary to stay good and growing, there’s a few things you have to do. Otherwise, it’s rather easy to handle and you will enjoy it for years to come.
Where to Plant Rosemary
Although it comes from the Mediterranean, it’s habitat isn’t as touchy as Lavender. Rosemary can tolerate some shade but the more full sun it has, the better off it will be. The essential oils surface more thereby releasing its famous aromatics through the air.
Rosemary likes to have its own reserved space, which is characteristic of perennials. But note these babies can grow as high as six or seven feet! If you plan on keeping the plant for a long time, make sure you have enough room for it to grow.
Rosemary requires sandy, loamy soil. So you’re going to want to mix a bit of coarse sand with dirt. Make sure water bleeds well through because it won’t tolerate a lot of moisture. Also, make sure the soil stays at a balmy 70 degrees.
If you live in Zone 7 or warmer, plant some rosemary in the garden. Cold-climate dwellers should put it in a pot and bring it inside for the winter.
Know that rosemary doesn’t transplant well. It’s not advised to plant in the garden and then dig it up for potting in winter. Rosemary’s chances of survival decrease when you do this.
Even though Rosemary loves its own little spot, it is a social plant. It can actually improve the growth and quality of foods like carrots, sage, beans and cabbage. This is because rosemary’s constituents, like Rosmarinic Acid, give soil nutrients and other vital substances.
Be Judicious with Water
Regular watering is necessary when rosemary first begins to take hold. When it becomes bigger, water it once every two weeks.
Remember, this is a drought-resistant plant and overwatering can cause “root rot.” This is a molding condition causing plants to wilt and die. So watering rosemary often isn’t recommended.
Potted rosemary will need a bit more water than when grown in the garden. This is because the pot creates a fragile environment for rosemary, so you want to make sure the soil stays a little moist but safeguard it against root rot.
Other Care Tips
- If you’re not careful or attentive enough, rosemary can grow too much out of hand. When this happens, it will become woody and the flowers won’t be as prevalent the next time it blooms.
- Be sure to cut sprigs from it every now and then to maintain its beauty. The best time is after it flowers in order to keep it strong and healthy. This will allow for proper airflow through it’s needle-like foliage.
- Place it in a sunny area with some of humidity yet make sure it stays cool during dreary winter months. Rosemary can dry out indoors and it’s preferences become pickier. Don’t water too much in winter and check the soil on a consistent basis.
Keeping rosemary can be an easy task so long as it has the Mediterranean conditions it requires. Its one of those must-have plants due to rosemary’s plethora of uses in the kitchen, the medicine cabinet and the garden. With so much history and folklore surrounding rosemary, you can’t go wrong having it around.