(Salvia rosmarinus 'Rosemary')
Rosemary is a perennial evergreen shrub that is native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and northern Africa but can be commonly found growing in gardens throughout the United States. At maturity, this plant reaches the height of 3-4' and features aromatic, greenish-gray, aromatic leaves, and pale blue to white two lipped flowers. This plant can be grown in a container, attracts bees and butterflies, repels bean beetles, cabbage moths, and carrot flies, is rabbit safe, is resistant to deer, tolerates drought, is used to flavor perfumes, is used to make dyes, essential oils, shampoo, and is both edible and medicinal.
Harvesting & Storage
Culinary & Medicinal
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Also Known As: Romero, Pilgrims Plant, Mary's Mantle, Compass Weed.
Native to: Albania, Algeria, Baleares, Corse, Cyprus, East Aegean Is., Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Portugal, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Yugoslavia
Introduced into: Azores, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Cape Verde, Great Britain, Kriti, Krym, Madeira, Mexico Central, Mexico Southwest, Texas, Trinidad-Tobago
Ease of Growing: Moderate
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity: June to July
Hardiness: Hardy. In zones 8 through 10, where winters are mild and the ground doesn't freeze, Rosemary will grow happily over several years into a big 3 to 4' shrub. In zones 3 through 7 where winters are colder, plant seedlings into large pots to enjoy throughout spring and summer. When weather gets cold and frost threatens, prune plants back heavily and bring pots inside to spend the winter indoors in a cool, well-lit area; water very sparingly while plants are overwintering indoors. In spring, when danger of frost is over and weather is settled, move potted plants back outside to a sunny spot.
Crops: Spring Transplant
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot. Plant rosemary in a sunny spot that has well drained soil that isn't very rich in nutrients. Very drought tolerant once established, water regularly the first year then be careful not to over water. Rosemary thrives in various soil types, but won't survive in extreme cold.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 50°F - 90°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 45°F. Wait until your soil has warmed up in mid-Spring until you sow Rosemary seeds. Potted plants can be planted anytime.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: No
Light: Full Sun: min. 6 hours daily (Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot). Rosemary likes a sheltered position with full sun, but will tolerate light shade.
Water: Medium. Rosemary can survive without irrigation for months.
Feeder: Light. Rosemary thrives in soil that is not too rich in nutrients.
Suitability: Drought tolerant, Tolerates light frost, High heat
Small Gardens?: Yes
Containers?: Yes. All zones can grow Rosemary in pots, but if you live in zones 3 through 7 where winters are colder, plant seedlings into large pots to enjoy throughout spring and summer. When weather gets cold and frost threatens, prune plants back heavily and bring pots inside to spend the winter indoors in a cool, well-lit area; water very sparingly while plants are overwintering indoors. In spring, when danger of frost is over and weather is settled, move potted plants back outside to a sunny spot. Choose a container that is at least 1' in diameter or 3 gallons.
Attracts Beneficial Insects?: Yes
Plant Height: 36-48"
Sow Depth: Press the seeds lightly into the soil
Produces: stalks with short, needle-like blades and small, abundant purple flowers.
USDA Grow Zone: 6-11
Garden Uses: Where winter hardy, grow in herb gardens, borders or foundations. Ornamental specimen or low hedge. Container plants are attractive additions to patios, decks and other sunny areas around the home.
Soil pH: 6.0-8.5, Ideal 6.0-7.5. Rosemary prefers well drained, slightly alkaline soil that doesn't need to be very fertile.
When the plants grow big enough to handle safely and there is no chance of frost, transplant them to light soil and full sun 18-24" apart. Rosemary thrives in dry and stony soils, and can be easily propagated from cuttings; it also makes an excellent container plant, especially in winters that drop below 17 degrees F.
Water Needs: Low. Rosemary can survive without irrigation for months.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. Rosemary thrives in soil that is not too rich in nutrients.
Watering: Water, 2 cup(s) per plant, every 6 weeks. Well-established Rosemary rarely needs water, even in dry climates.
Storage Req: Dry
Storage Temp: 50-70°F
Storage Length: 1-360 days
Germination Percentage: 30%
Seed Viability in Years: 1 year
Culinary Use: Harvest whole stems to flavor meats and soups or crush leaves with root vegetables, breads and many other culinary uses.
Young shoots, leaves and flowers: raw or cooked. The leaves have a very strong flavor that is bitter and somewhat resinous, the flowers are somewhat milder. They are used in small quantities as a flavoring in soups and stews, with vegetables such as peas and spinach, and with sweet dishes such as biscuits cakes, jams and jellies. They can be used fresh or dried.The leaves have a tough texture and so should either be used very finely chopped, or in sprigs that can be removed after cooking. A fragrant tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. It is said to be especially nice when mixed with tansy.
The Health Benefits of Rosemary
Mood and Stress: The aroma of rosemary alone has been linked to improving mood, clearing the mind, and relieving stress in those with chronic anxiety or stress hormone imbalances. When the plant is consumed or applied topically in some sort of salve of the leaves, it can have similar effects. Aromatherapy also uses rosemary essential oil for this purpose, but that concentration of active components isn’t necessary to have positive effects on stress and mood.
Immune System Strength: The active components in rosemary are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic in nature. This represents a three-pronged attack against many different diseases and pathogens that could threaten the immune system or damage the integrity of the body. Antioxidant compounds form a secondary line of defense behind the body’s own immune system, and rosemary contains a significant amount of those powerful compounds, including rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulic acid, and carnosol.
Antibacterial Potential: While the general immune boosting qualities of rosemary are impressive enough, it is specifically powerful against bacterial infections, particularly those in the stomach. H. pylori bacteria is a common and very dangerous pathogen that can cause stomach ulcers, but rosemary has been shown to prevent its growth when consumed. Similarly, rosemary is linked to preventing Staph infections, which kill thousands of people each year.
Stomach Soother: Rosemary has traditionally been used by dozens of cultures as a natural remedy for upset stomachs, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and everything in between. Its anti-inflammatory and stimulant effects are largely the cause of these effects, so adding rosemary to your weekly diet can quickly help you regulate your bowel movements and your gastrointestinal system.
Breath Freshener: As a natural antibacterial agent, rosemary works as a wonderful breath freshener that also improves your oral health. Steep rosemary leaves in a glass of hot water and then gargle or swish the water in your mouth to eliminate bacteria and give you naturally fresh and clean breath all night!
Stimulate Blood Flow: Rosemary acts as a stimulant for the body and boosts the production of red blood cells and blood flow. This helps to oxygenate vital organ systems and areas of the body, ensuring that the metabolic activities in those areas are running smoothly, in addition to stimulating the movement of nutrients to cells that require repair.
Pain Relief: As an analgesic substance, rosemary has been topically applied in a paste or salve for hundreds of years to the affected area of the pain. When consumed orally, rosemary acts as a pain reliever for harder to reach spots, such as headaches and pain from a condition. In fact, one of the most popular uses of rosemary is for the treatment of migraines. Applying a decoction to the temples, or simply smelling the aroma of rosemary has been linked to reducing the severity of migraine symptoms.
Anti-Inflammatory Qualities: Perhaps the most important function of rosemary is as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body. Carnosol and Carnosic acid are two powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds found in rosemary that have been linked to reducing inflammation of muscles, blood vessels, and joints. This makes rosemary an effective treatment for many things, including blood pressure, gout, arthritis, and injuries sustained during physical exertion or surgery. Rosemary is effective in oral or topical form for these anti-inflammatory effects. Furthermore, the reduction in inflammation in the cardiovascular system can help to boost heart health and prevent atherosclerosis from appearing.
Detoxify the Body: Rosemary is slightly diuretic in nature, meaning that it can help flush out toxins more efficiently during urination. Furthermore, by increasing the rate at which water leaves the body, it can also help push out pathogens, salts, toxins, and even excess fat when consumed regularly (or when you’re feeling particularly “toxified”). In terms of the particular organ it benefits, rosemary has been linked to lower levels of cirrhosis and a faster healing time of the liver, which is one of the slowest organs to heal.
Skin Health: The anti-aging properties of rosemary are quite well known. Although more commonly thought of in the essential oil form, the leaves of rosemary can also effect the skin internally or topically, and has been shown to improve the youthful quality of the skin, while also healing blemishes and increasing the natural shine and hydrated appearance of your body’s largest organ.
A Final Word of Warning: The essential oil of rosemary is not to be consumed, but normal rosemary is far less potent, and therefore not dangerous to consume in normal culinary proportions. If you are allergic to other members of the mint family, you may experience discomfort if you consume or apply rosemary, but the reactions are typically mild.