Gardening

Rosemary—Abundant, Long-lived, and Flavorful

If you grow only one herb, consider rosemary. A staple of Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, rosemary flavors soups, breads, and meats–especially lamb–with a distinctive flavor unmatched by any other herb. It is easy to snip and use fresh for flavoring salad oil, butter for bread, or even scrambled eggs.

Rosemary is a pretty, evergreen woody shrub. You can mix it among other landscape plants. Because it is native to the Mediterranean seaside, it tolerates full sun, dry soil, and even beachside salty air.

Set plants out in spring in well-drained soil with a pH 6.5 to 7; add lime if necessary. Pay attention to drainage, or you will invite root rot. Mulch with pebbles to keep roots happy and moist in summer. Rock mulch also helps keep the foliage dry, especially in the South, where humidity brings fungus problems.

Rosemary grows well in containers, too. In areas where it is not cold hardy (Zones 7 and north), move the pot to a cool but sunny garage or to another protected location in winter, and your plants will live for years.

Snip the tips of the branches whenever you need a few leaves, or even if you don’t, just to keep the plant producing fresh, tender new growth. As older stems get woody, they make good skewers for vegetable kabobs.

Rosemary plants can become specimen plants in your landscape.
This mature rosemary plant fills out a corner in this landscape design. Mature plants still produce flavorful, aromatic, needle-like leaves.