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Plant of the Week: Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

Plant of the Week: Rosemary

Rosemary is an herb that has been used for centuries, prized for its’ medicinal as well as culinary purposes. It is native to Mediterranean regions and lends itself to their spice pallet in many dishes. Growing this beautiful, aromatic herb either in a container or in your garden comes with many benefits. Here are just a handful.

Plant Characteristics: Rosemary is a woody evergreen that grows to 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide over time. They grow very slowly so their structure and growth habit makes it a good selection for a container planting. They have a needle like foliage that is extremely fragrant. Rosemary will bloom from late spring and well into summer, boasting small bluish-purple blooms, giving the herb an ornamental quality that many others do not. They are also not toxic to your family pet so you can incorporate them indoors in a sunny room during the colder winter months if needed or desired.

Plant Care: Rosemary requires a sunny location in the garden. 6 or more hours will allow them to flourish during the growing season (spring to fall). During the winter months, the days are shorter so the growth of the plant will diminish and it will go into a period of dormancy while still holding the dark green foliage throughout this season. Protect the plant from hard freezes, however infrequent in our climate, when temperatures drop 32 degrees or lower for several hours.

They will be more insulated in the ground but still should be covered during those time periods. If they are in a container, simply move them to a sunny room and enjoy the aromatic quality of fresh garden Rosemary, even on those bitterly cold days. The soil should be sandy and very well drained, as this herb does not like too much moisture. Try to err on the dry side when watering. A wet plant is much harder to fix than a dry one. The time to prune your Rosemary is after the bloom cycle has finished and the blossoms begin falling off.

This is usually towards the end of the summer as we approach early fall. You will not damage the plant, though, if you decide to trim some of your plant for roasting or grilling chicken or pork during the summer months.

Uses: We all know the pungent, spicy flavor that Rosemary can add to our foods. An often overlooked benefit to Rosemary is a positive impact on your health. It has been shown that this herb can help improve memory when used to make tea and is loaded with antioxidants which help boost your immune system. They can also be used in your home décor during Christmas. Their growth habit allows them to be shaped into cones, like a small Christmas tree.

Placed in a festive pot with a few miniature ornaments, Rosemary cones make a fragrant and festive mantelpiece or centerpiece on your Holiday table. Larger conical Rosemary trees can be placed at the entrance to your home, giving a warm welcome to your guests. Yet another use is to incorporate Rosemary in your vegetable garden as a companion plant for fall squash and cabbages. The strong scent will often keep deer away from your precious winter crop!

Rosemary has an almost endless supply of uses. Start with a rosemary cone for Christmas as decoration and plant in your garden in spring, taking springs as desired for those Summer time cookouts!! Bon appétit!