Sunday, November 2, 2014

How to Grow Rosemary

Fragrant, delicious rosemary is a wonderful herb to grow on your own, either indoors in a pot or outside in your garden. Rosemary is generally not hard to grow, and once it taken root, this perennial, woody shrub will thrive for years. Read on to learn how to plant, care for, and harvest rosemary.

1-Get a rosemary cutting. Rosemary is easiest to grow from a cutting, rather than planting seeds. Go to your local nursery and get a cutting, or better yet, find a rosemary plant you admire and clip off a few 4 inch pieces to propagate. The best time to do this is in the late spring, but if you live in a warmer climate, this can be done during early autumn as well. The plants you'll be able to grow from the cuttings will have the same qualities as the original bush.
If you'd prefer to grow a variety you haven't seen in your area, you can order a cutting online or ask your nursery to get one for you. There are many varieties of rosemary, each with slightly different properties. Some grow very bushy and tall, while others tend to trail; some have purple or blue flowers, some white.

You can also buy a seedling if you don't want to propagate a cutting.

2-Propagate the rosemary. Put each cutting into a small pot of soil filled with two-thirds coarse sand and one-third peat moss. Set the pot in a sunny place, but not in direct sunlight. Water the cuttings regularly and keep in a warm spot until the roots form, which should take about three weeks.
To help the cuttings grow, you can place the entire pot inside a plastic bag with a few holes punctured in the top. This will help regulate the temperature and keep things warm and moist.

You may also dip the tips of the rosemary cuttings in rooting powder to give them a head start.

3-Plant the seedlings. Once roots have formed, you can plant the rosemary either in pots or outdoors in your garden. Rosemary will adapt to most growing conditions and is quite hardy. It's happy with snow, limestone, high temperatures, by the seaside, and all sorts of soils. It will grow its best however, in a warm to hot, fairly dry climate. Choose a full sun aspect that is fairly dry.
Decide whether you want to keep growing it in pots or as a shrub in the garden. It can also be trained as a delightfully scented hedge. For cooler climates, containers may be best so that you can move them if needed.

If planting in the garden, choose soil that drains well. Rosemary can suffer from root rot in waterlogged soil. The more alkaline the soil, the more fragrant the rosemary will be. Dig in some lime if the soil is too acid.

Caring for Rosemary

1-Water rosemary infrequently. Rosemary prefers a drier soil, so don't overdo the watering. It will be happy with the average garden watering. It likes to source most of its water from rain.
2-Don't worry about fertilizing. This is not a herb that needs it. However, make sure that there is some lime in the soil.
3-Bring the pots indoors in winter if you live in a cold place. Though rosemary is hardy, it can suffer in very cold weather and its branches can get damaged when laden with heavy snow. To ensure the plant survives the winter, it's best to bring it indoors.
4-Prune rosemary as needed. Pruning isn't necessary for the health of the plant, but rosemary bushes tend to grow quite large and take up a lot of garden space. Cut the branches back by a few inches each spring to help them retain their shape.

Harvesting and Using Rosemary

1-Harvest rosemary. Pick sprigs of rosemary leaves as needed. The bush will just keep on happily growing. Since rosemary is evergreen, you can harvest it all year round.
2-Store the sprigs in a cool, dry place. You can also freeze rosemary by placing it in food storage bags and storing in the freezer. Alternatively, strip the leaves from the stems and store in airtight jars. Stored this way, rosemary will slowly dry and will keep for several months.
3-Eat rosemary. Rosemary is a wonderful compliment to both sweet and savory dishes. Use it to add depth to meat and chicken, bread, butter, and even ice cream. These delicious recipes make use of rosemary:
Herb bread.
Marinated pork.
Rosemary syrup.

Lemon sorbet with rosemary.
4-Use rosemary around the house. Rosemary can be dried and made into scented drawer sachets, used as in ingredient in homemade soap, turned into a fragranced water that makes your hair shiny and soft, and more. You can also simply brush against your rosemary plant to experience a fresh burst of its uplifting scent.
  • Rosemary has different forms, including different colours, leaf shapes and sizes. Flower colours also vary, usually from pale blue to white.
  • Rosemary can be frozen for up to six months. Simply place the sprigs into freezer bags and freeze. However, if you have your own bush, it's probably easiest to just pick as needed rather than take up extra freezer space.
  • Rosemary can tolerate salt and wind, making it an ideal seaside garden plant. However, it does grow best in a sheltered position, such as up against a wall, so try to provide this if possible.
  • This evergreen shrub grows to about 2 metres (6 feet) in height. However, it is very slow to reach this height. The dwarf variety will reach about 45cm (18") and is suitable for container growing.
  • If planting in a container, be reassured that rosemary makes a great pot plant. This is an ideal solution for very cold climates, as you can bring it indoors during the winter. While rosemary can tolerate minor amounts of snow, it cannot tolerate a lot, or very cold temperatures. In a container, keep it clipped to maintain a suitable shape.
  • Rosemary is for "remembrance".
  • Plant a rosemary bush near the clothesline. Clothes that brush against it will smell gorgeous. It's also a nice herb to brush against on a raised walkway.

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