Rosemary is easy to grow wherever you are, and whatever your gardening skill level. It does well planted directly in outdoor gardens, or grown in containers, indoor or out. Fresh rosemary has a strong, pine-y smell, and can be used in cooking as well as medicinally.
Want to grow this versatile ‘dew of the sea,’ as it’s known in Latin? Here’s what you need to know.
Getting started: Rosemary is one of the more commonly sold herbs, so it’s usually pretty easy to find young rosemary plants at stores or farmer’s markets. You can also propagate rosemary yourself, using a cutting (2-4 inches) of the stem of another rosemary plant, taken in spring or summer. To do this, remove leaves from cuttings, and insert around edges of a pot full of dry potting soil, about 1-inch deep. Spray soil lightly with water, and cover with a clear lid or plastic bag. Keep the pot in a shady place until rosemary takes root and shows signs of growth. It can then be transplanted into regular soil and full/partial sun. It’s not recommended that you try starting rosemary plants from seed.
Let there be light: Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary does best in full sun (six+ hours of direct sunlight per day) but will also tolerate partial shade (3-6 hours of direct sunlight, or 6+ hours of part-sun, part-shade).
Earth, wind & water: Rosemary does best in relatively warm, dry soil. How often it needs watering depends on a lot of things—your best bet is to water it thoroughly and then let soil dry before watering again (although brown leaves and shedding might seem like signs that your plant wants more water, they’re actually signs of overwatering and soggy soil). If growing rosemary indoors, avoid mildew by letting soil dry between waterings, making sure it gets adequate sunlight, and running a fan around it for a few hours each day if necessary.
• If growing in a container, repot rosemary plants with fresh soil once a year.
• If rosemary begins to get too big for its container, you can prune it by trimming the top as well as slicing off an inch or two of the roots from the bottom and sides of the root ball.
• Fight mildew by spraying leaves with a combination of water and apple cider vinegar until mildew is gone.
• Turn your rosemary plant every couple days for even growth, as it will tend to grow toward the sun or other light source.
In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies, and brides often would wear a rosemary headpiece. As time went on, the herb became so associated with love that newly weds would plant a branch of rosemary on their wedding day, believing that if the branch grew it was a good omen for their relationship and family. The herb was also thought to attract lovers and repel witches. By the 16th century, abundant rosemary bushes came to signify that women ruled a household, which allegedly led to men ripping rosemary out of their yards to prove they were in charge.