Rosemary is a herb that is a member of the mint family and can be used for both culinary and cosmetic purposes. The smell of fresh rosemary is rich and satisfying and the flavor is the perfect accompaniment to many breads, meats, stews, soups and even teas. The plant itself is lovely to look at and the aroma of the herb is intoxicating. Rosemary doesn't lose its flavor at all when heated, making it versatile and easy to cook with.
You can grow rosemary plants outdoors in your garden, or indoors in containers. Either way, it is an easy plant to grow and maintain. Here are some tips to get the most out of your rosemary plants.
- It can be tricky to have success in getting rosemary seeds to germinate; they only grow when very fresh and planted in optimum conditions. For best results, purchase rosemary plants at a nursery or garden center.
- Choose a spot in your garden with full sun--at least eight hours a day is best. Rosemary will thrive in sandy, well-drained soil with a ph level of about 7 or 8. Alternatively, you can plant your rosemary in pots and keep them in a sunny window. Turn the plants regularly to maximize sun exposure.
- A thin layer of fast-draining mulch will deter weeds and keep the roots of your rosemary plants warm. Fertilizer isn't necessary, but can be given once a year, in the spring.
- The only tricky part to growing rosemary is the amount of water it needs. Too much water will damage the roots and kill the plants, but not enough water will also have disastrous effects. Thoroughly water your plants when the soil is very dry and allow it to dry out once more before watering again.
- As your plants begin to grow, pinch off buds as they appear to encourage leaf growth and get the plants nice and bushy. Also remove any damaged leaves or stems.
- In cooler climates, rosemary needs to be moved indoors for the winter, well before the first signs of frost. Transplanting can be tricky, as the roots are very delicate. For best results, grow your rosemary outdoors in pots, and then simply bring the pots indoors in late fall.
- You can start new rosemary plants with cuttings from existing parent plants. Cut off stems about two inches long from the new growth on your plant and cut off the leaves from these stems. Plant in a mixture of perlite and peat moss and spray with water until roots begin to grow. Then plant your cuttings as you would with any rosemary plant.
- Clip rosemary sprigs whenever you want to use them. Rosemary can be used fresh or dried, in cooking, teas or even in soap and other personal care items.
- There is such a wide variety of rosemary available--some plants can grow as high as six feet! Make sure you know what to expect from your plants by reading tags and asking for advice from the folks at the nursery or garden center.