How to Plant Rosemary

rosemary

Characteristics

Height
from 100.00cm to 200.00cm
Growth width
from 70.00cm to 150.00cm
Flower shape
  • underarm
  • lip-shaped
  • tubular
Leaf shape
  • needle-shaped
  • narrowly lanceolate
PH value
  • alkaline to slightly acidic
Ornamental or utility value
  • Floral decoration
  • Scented plant
  • Medicinal plant
  • Nectar or pollen plant
Garden style
  • Apothecary garden
  • patio
  • Rock garden
  • Pot garden

origin

Rosemary belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is a typical Mediterranean plant. It is increasingly found in the coastal regions and particularly often on rocky slopes in the Mediterranean area. Its Latin name "rosmarinus" means "dew of the sea". The name probably indicates its frequent occurrence on Mediterranean coasts. Others assume that the name is based on the Greek name "rhops myrinos" ("balsamic shrub"). It indicates the high content of essential oils. The botanical name Rosmarinus officinalis is probably familiar to most gardeners, but Salvia rosmarinus has actually been correct since 2020, since rosemary has since been assigned to the genus sage.

The evergreen, strongly scented subshrub was already used in antiquity by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as a substitute for incense for ritual incense. As the herb of the goddess of love Aphrodite, it was symbolic of love and loyalty. From 800 AD, Charlemagne had rosemary grown in his gardens and the subshrub also played an important role as a medicinal herb in the Middle Ages. For centuries, the spicy herb with a slightly bitter note has also been used in the kitchen to refine meat, fish, vegetables and potatoes. Dried it is suitable for herbal potpourris or teas. Due to its essential oils, tannins and bitter substances, rosemary tea has a strengthening and stimulating effect. Rosemary tea or rosemary tincture is also used for headaches or nerve pain.

growth

Rosemary is a perennial so-called subshrub because its shoot tips do not completely lignify until winter. It grows upright with dense bushes and can become quite spreading with age. The shoots are conspicuously angular and heavily branched. Some varieties can reach a height of two meters depending on the climate and location.

blossoms

The tubular lip-shaped flowers appear in the leaf axils of the shoots as early as early spring, from around March to early May. Depending on the variety, they are blue-violet, light blue, pink or white and attract numerous insects.

Location and soil

Because of its origin, rosemary prefers sunny, warm, sheltered locations with a favorable microclimate. It tolerates heat well and can be planted or kept in a pot in milder regions. It prefers moderately dry and very well drained calcareous soils, which can be a bit stony.

Planting and care

Since rosemary is not reliably hardy in most regions of Germany, it is advisable to cultivate it in a pot on the terrace or balcony and then to overwinter the plants in an unheated greenhouse in autumn. In sheltered locations in a mild wine-growing climate, cultivation outdoors is also possible if the plants are provided with good winter protection. In a herbal spiral, rosemary feels best at the highest point next to lavender, thyme or hyssop. If necessary, you should loosen up heavy soil with sand or gravel. A rock garden has also proven itself as a location. You should definitely plant outdoor plants in spring in the poorest possible, permeable soil so that they take root well by the first winter.

If you want to keep rosemary in the pot, you should mix conventional potted plant soil or herb soil with plenty of sand or clay granules, as the subshrub prefers low-humus, mineral substrates. And: The pot for the herbs should have a drainage hole so that the water can drain off easily. Rosemary needs regular but moderate water. While the plant can tolerate drought without any problems, it is very sensitive to waterlogging. The older a rosemary is, the less often you should repot it. Make sure you use a sufficiently large pot right away.

In the case of rosemary, cut back all the shoots from the previous year to short stubs at the end of March so that the shrub remains nice and compact. You can completely do without fertilization with outdoor plants. You should provide potted plants with a little low-dose liquid fertilizer two to three times per season.

To keep rosemary nice and compact and vigorous, you have to cut it regularly. In this video, MEIN SCHÖNER GARTEN editor Dieke van Dieken shows you how to cut back the subshrub.
Credit: MSG / Camera + Editing: Marc Wilhelm / Sound: Annika Gnädig

Winter protection

Rosemary can withstand frost down to minus eight to ten degrees and should also be kept outside as long as possible as a potted plant. You can overwinter rosemary in an unheated greenhouse, which does not necessarily have to be frost-free in winter. Alternatively, it is also possible to overwinter in the dark at temperatures close to freezing, for example in a garage. Here the rosemary usually loses all of its leaves, but it sprouts again in spring. In winter, only water your rosemary enough to prevent the root ball from drying out completely. From March you can move the plant back onto the terrace.

A planted rosemary should be protected in the root area with a thick layer of autumn leaves. The crown can also be wrapped in winter fleece or covered with fir branches. In the case of outdoor plants, a very well-drained dry soil is essential for survival. Winter wetness often means certain death even in milder regions.

Video: winter protection for rosemary

In our video, we show you how to get your rosemary through the winter in the bed and in the pot on the terrace.

Rosemary is a popular Mediterranean herb. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean subshrub in our latitudes is quite sensitive to frost. In this video, gardening editor Dieke van Dieken shows you how to get your rosemary through the winter in the flower bed and in the pot on the terrace
MSG / camera + editing: CreativeUnit / Fabian Heckle

Harvest and recovery

You can harvest rosemary all year round. To do this, pick individual leaves or cut off entire shoot tips with a sharp knife. The aromatic leaves are suitable fresh and cooked to refine meat dishes such as lamb and poultry, but also to vegetable casseroles, potato dishes and in low doses as a special note for desserts, chutneys or jams. In general, rosemary is an extremely popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh twigs can be soaked in oil to make rosemary oil. Alternatively, you can freeze rosemary or rosemary dry. It does not lose its aroma in the process.

sorts

‘Arp’: a robust, relatively hardy variety with light blue flowers and thick, gray-green leaves.

"Before": the variety is short and is well suited for pots on the balcony and terrace. It has pink flowers.

"Blue lip": as the name suggests, the compact variety has dark blue flowers. It is relatively sensitive to frost.

‘Majorca Pink’: the variety grows columnar, has numerous pale pink flowers and light green needles. It is rather sensitive and suitable for pots.

"Severn Sea": grows expansively, has narrow leaves and purple-blue flowers. It should be overwintered in a bright and cool place.

"Tuscan Blue": grows quickly and upright. The leaves are characterized by a blue-green hue and an intense aroma.

Multiplication

Rosemary can be easily propagated from cuttings. To do this, cut off the tips of the shoots about ten centimeters long, which are already slightly woody in the lower area. Strip the lower leaves from the stem and insert the shoot pieces individually or in groups about five centimeters deep into pots with potting soil. Moisten the soil and put a transparent foil bag over the pots. As soon as strong roots have formed and new leaves appear at the tip of the shoot, the young plants are separated if necessary. Propagation by sowing is possible in spring, but the young seedlings are sensitive to fungal diseases and grow only slowly.

Diseases and pests

Rosemary is not very susceptible to disease. Every now and then powdery mildew occurs when the plants are too close together. If the soil is too wet, root rot often occurs. It in turn favors an infestation with other fungal diseases, since it weakens the plants. Aphids and mealybugs as well as spider mites can rarely occur. Most pests, however, are kept away from the high essential oil content.

What is rosemary?

Rosemary is a Mediterranean subshrub that is used both as a medicinal plant and as a spice to refine dishes in the kitchen.

When can you plant rosemary?

Rosemary is best planted in a pot, an herb spiral or in a rock garden from May onwards.

Which soil is suitable for rosemary?

Rosemary prefers a low-humus, mineral substrate. You should mix normal potting soil with sufficient sand or clay granules.

How often do you have to water rosemary?

Water your rosemary regularly, but only moderately.

When can you cut rosemary?

Spring is the best time to cut the rosemary. The shoots from the previous year are cut back to just above the woody areas.