Type to search

Everything You Should Know About Rosemary


Is there a more delicious and versatile herb than rosemary? Not only can you cook delicious dishes with rosemary, but it also has numerous health and medicinal benefits, looks great in your garden, and can be used as a lovely perfume and air freshener. With small packets of fresh rosemary costing a few pounds, growing your own will save you a lot of money over the course of a year. We don’t think any garden is complete without a robust rosemary bush.

Read ahead to learn how to incorporate rosemary into your garden!

What Is Rosemary?

Rosemary is a woody herb that grows in bushes of spiny needles that are similar to pine needles. Its official Latin name is Salvia Rosmarinus, and its common name is derived from the Latin phrase dew of the sea – ros marinus.[1] It is a woody herb that grows perennially, and is native to the Mediterranean. You can often smell rosemary before you can see it – it has a pungent piney odour. It is used extensively throughout Mediterranean cookery, from Lebanon and Turkey through to France, Italy, and Spain.

Rosemary looks lovely in any garden, and makes for a useful hedging bush. Place near a pair of Lutyens benches for a calming and relaxing place to spend time in your outdoor space.

Different Varieties of Rosemary

You can grow many different rosemary varieties, each of which has its own visual appeal, aroma, and flavour.[2]

  • Benenden Blue – known for fine needles and dark blue flowers
  • Lady in White – grows upright, making it excellent for hedging
  • Majorca Pink – grows upright, with pale pink flowers
  • McConnell’s Blue – perfect in pots, with pale blue flowers
  • Miss Jessopp’s Upright – blue flowers and upright stems
  • Prostratus Group – arching stems and pale blue flowers
  • Severn Sea – a bold scent and blue flowers
  • Sudbury Blue – strongly scented with blue flowers

What Is Rosemary Good For?

Of course, rosemary is fantastic for cooking. It’s a vital ingredient in roast dinners, parmentier potatoes, pork dishes, and even in gin cocktails. But did you know that it is also a popular and useful medicinal ingredient, used in teas, tinctures, and capsules?[3]

Packed with iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6, it is prized for its ability to promote hair growth, improve the memory, calm the nerves, and alleviate sore muscles. Rosemary is known for its antioxidant properties that are believed to improve circulation and immune function. Many people with indigestion swear by the efficacy of rosemary to ease their suffering.

How to Grow Rosemary

Follow these tips to grow this useful and delicious herb.[4]

  • Watering: Don’t overwater rosemary – keep the soil moist. Once it is established in the soil, water it infrequently without letting it dry out.
  • Feeding: You don’t need to feed rosemary too much – a light spray of liquid seaweed or kelp extract is enough for the entire growing season.
  • Mulching: Add mulch around your rosemary bush, such as aged compost or chopped leaves.
  • Container growing: You can grow rosemary in a container at least 20 cm deep and 30 cm in diameter, ensuring that it gets lots of light.
  • Winter growing: If you live in a cold or wet climate, you should move your rosemary indoors or into a greenhouse or cold frame to protect them. If you bring them in the house, ensure they get a lot of light and humidity.


Common Growing Problems for Rosemary, And How to Overcome Them

Rosemary is a hardy plant, but it does have a few common growing problems. Thankfully, even a novice gardener can overcome them.[5]

  • Powdery mildew – This is the most common growing problem with rosemary. You’ll see a dusting of whitish spores all over your plant. You can get rid of it with a homemade mix of bicarb and water, or an organic fungicide spray.
  • Root rot – Root rot is the most serious affliction and will usually kill your rosemary plant because the roots can no longer absorb nutrients. You can try to save your plant by digging it up, removing infected roots, and dusting with fungicide powder. If the roots are mushy and black, there is no hope – throw the plant away.
  • Bacterial diseases – While these are less common, bacterial diseases can occur in contaminated soil.
  • Blight infections – Blight is both fungal and bacterial, resulting in yellowing and patchy leaf growth. Increase the plant circulation with pruning
  • Leaf spot – Brown and black spots will appear on your rosemary, and the stems may wilt. Stop watering your plants from overhead, and mist them or water the soil instead.

How To Grow Rosemary From Cuttings

Most gardeners choose to grow rosemary from cuttings, as the seeds can take ages to germinate.[6]

The process of growing rosemary from cuttings is quite simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Snip new growth shoots, approximately 15 cm long. Remove most of the needles from the lower stem.
  2. Using a sharp knife or garden shears, cut the stem below a ‘leaf node’ – a place from which the needles sprout.
  3. Dip the end of the stem in a hormone rooting powder, which will speed things up.
  4. Fill your pot with gritty compost mix, and insert a few of the cuttings around the edges, and water from above.
  5. Set your pots in a shaded area and cover with a plastic bag to keep the moisture locked inside.
  6. Check for root development after a few weeks. Mist the plants regularly and ensure that the soil is moist. When they have a robust root system, pull them apart gently and plant in loam.

When Should You Prune Rosemary?

Prune your rosemary to keep it healthy and abundant, and looking its best. Pruning can take place any time during the spring and summer months, but avoid doing so up until four to six weeks before cold weather and frost. Pruning before the frost can prevent the bush from hardening and getting ready for the cold weather to come.[7]

When and How Should You Harvest Rosemary?

It’s best to wait until spring or summer, when it grows most rapidly, to harvest your delicious rosemary.[8] Assess your plant for long branches at least 20 cm long, and never harvest the younger shoots. Cut the top 5 cm with sharp scissors and be sure to leave some green needles on each branch.

Never harvest more than 1/4 of your bush at a time – this ensures that it will continue to grow. Most gardeners find that having three or four bushes guarantees that they will always have enough rosemary to cook with, without over-harvesting and harming their plant.

How to Dry Rosemary

Rosemary is the perfect herb to dry and use for months (and even years) to come. Unlike more delicate and leafier herbs, rosemary maintains its colour, texture, and bold flavour even when it is dried.[9]

There are three main ways to dry your rosemary:

  • Air dry – Bundle the stalks, tie them with a string, and then hang them to dry. As a bonus, your dried rosemary will make your room smell fantastic and herbaceous!
  • Oven dry – Arrange your sprigs on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment, and place them in the oven on the lowest temperature setting. You could even just let the pilot light do the drying for you!
  • Food dehydrator – Place your rosemary in a food dehydrator on the lowest setting for a few days.

Once your rosemary is dry, store it in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. You can also save your rosemary in oil. Ensure that the sprigs are below the surface of the oil, and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Rosemary is the most versatile herb

With so many medicinal, health, and flavour benefits, rosemary is a true herb superstar. It also looks great in your garden and can be used for hedging and decoration, and its fragrant aroma will lift your spirits. Happy gardening – and eating!

Reference list

Albert, S. (2017). How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Rosemary. [online] Harvest to Table. Available at: https://harvesttotable.com/how-to-grow-rosemary/ [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

BBC Gardeners’  World (2018). How to take rosemary cuttings. [online] BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. Available at: https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-take-rosemary-cuttings/ [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

BBC Gardeners’ World (2020). How to grow rosemary. [online] BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. Available at: https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-grow-rosemary/ [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

Grant, B. (2018). Rosemary Disease Control – How To Treat Sick Rosemary Plants. [online] www.gardeningknowhow.com. Available at: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/rosemary/rosemary-disease-control.htm [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

Henderson, J. (2015). 4 Ways to Preserve Fresh Rosemary. [online] Kitchn. Available at: https://www.thekitchn.com/4-ways-to-preserve-fresh-rosemary-221277 [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

Medical News Today (2017). Rosemary: Health benefits, precautions, and drug interactions. [online] www.medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266370#:~:text=A%20range%20of%20rosemary%20products [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

Rhoades, H. (2018). Cutting Back Rosemary: How To Trim Rosemary Bushes. [online] www.gardeningknowhow.com. Available at: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/rosemary/pruning-rosemary.htm#:~:text=Rosemary%20pruning%20can%20be%20done [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

WikiHow Staff (2018). How to Harvest Rosemary. [online] wikiHow. Available at: https://www.wikihow.com/Harvest-Rosemary#:~:text=Rosemary%20grows%20most%20actively%20during [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].

Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Rosemary. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary [Accessed 20 Jul. 2020].


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary

[2] https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-grow-rosemary/

[3] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266370#drug_interactions

[4] https://harvesttotable.com/how-to-grow-rosemary/

[5] https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/rosemary/rosemary-disease-control.htm

[6] https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-take-rosemary-cuttings/

[7] https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/rosemary/pruning-rosemary.htm

[8] https://www.wikihow.com/Harvest-Rosemary#:~:text=Rosemary%20grows%20most%20actively%20during,weekly%20to%20encourage%20its%20growth.&text=If%20you%20are%20planning%20on,begins%20to%20bloom%20to%20harvest.

[9] https://www.thekitchn.com/4-ways-to-preserve-fresh-rosemary-221277

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

  • 1

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *