Rosemary is a hardy perennial herb that's grown not only culinary purposes, but can also be used for personal hygiene in soaps , shampoos and lotions or an aromatic addition to potpourri or sachets. In the Dark Ages, people placed rosemary sprigs under their pillows while sleeping as they believed it would ward off evil spirits and bad dreams.
Rosemary is actually an evergreen that can be grown outdoors successfully in Zones 8 and 9. It is a woody-stemmed plant with needles similar to pine needle but they're leaves. Rosemary can also be grown as a container plant, over wintered indoors, in other zones. They average 1 to 3 feet tall, but can reach up to 6 feet under proper conditions.
This aromatic evergreen grows best in a well-drained, sandy, soil with full sun. Rosemary will tolerate partial shade, full sun is best. Seedlings mature rather slowly, you might want to buy plants and start them indoors for quicker results. Plants should be spaced 1 to 2 feet apart or if grown outdoors as a perennial 4 to 4 1/2 feet apart.
Keep the soil moist, allowing it to dry out completely between watering. Mulch your plants to retain enough moisture near the roots during the dog days of summer and to provide winter insulation.
Keep mulch away from the crown of the plant, as it contributes to rots and fungus. In the early spring, you should prune any dead wood out.
Spider Mites, Scale insects, Whiteflies, and mealybugs are common insect pests of rosemary.
Powdery mildew and root rot, particularly in humid regions are disease issues. Ensuring that your plants have adequate drainage and ventilation is the best way toward off these diseases.
In cooler regions, the cold will kill the tops of the rosemary plant. Before winter roars in.
So long as the plants are growing you can harvest continuously, as needed. Hand strip needles from the stems and cut them up before using. Rosemary can also dried or frozen well. Freeze entire sprigs, as you need some leaves, hand pick off the amount you need. Cut rosemary at the soft stems, not the hard woody parts of the plant. Harvest as needed.
To dry rosemary, hang it upside down in bunches to dry with adequate air circulation, and kept away from moisture. Once the stems are dry and semi brittle, strip the leaves from them. Rosemary can also be frozen in sprigs, preserved in vinegar, or used to flavor dressings. It is also used lightly on meats such pork, chicken and veal, in soups stews etcetra.
1. Rosmarinus officinalis is the most commonly grown cultivar, other varieties of Rosemary go by different botanical latin names.