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Rosemary: Info & Care

How to Grow Rosemary:

Transplant into the garden after danger of frost or in a container in full sun (6-8 hours of full sunlight). Good drainage and air circulation are important. Fertilize at the time of planting and occasionally during the growing season.

Water: Thoroughly water rosemary plants when the soil is dry to the touch but allow the plants to dry out between watering intervals. Rosemary is drought tolerant.

  • Bring Rosemary inside for the winter: In our Hudson Valley, where the winter temperatures can go below 30 degrees, rosemary plants will have to spend the winter indoors in a cool, sunny room away from cold drafts; water sparingly. Not enough sunlight? Artificial lights will help your rosemary thrive. Move your potted rosemary back outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Pests and Problems of Rosemary Plants
Powdery Mildew – This is a white, powdery fungus that can develop if the surrounding air is humid and there is not enough air movement. Powdery mildew will not kill your plant, but it will weaken it.

  • To Prevent: Allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings, keep the plant in sunlight, and, if necessary, run a fan for a few hours a day to create a breeze.
  • To Cure: Dissolve one teaspoon of baking soda in a gallon of water and mist the plant if powdery mildew appears.

Repotting:
When your rosemary plant has gotten quite large, you can either move it to a larger pot, or, if you want to maintain the size of the plant, root prune it – slice off a couple of inches of the roots from the bottom and sides of the root ball, then repot into the same pot. You should also trim some of the top at the same time. Use those cuttings for seasoning!

Pruning:
Pruning will result in a bushier plant. Trim the rosemary once it has stopped blooming, being careful not to take more than 1/3 of the plant at any one time, cutting just above the leaf joint.

Harvesting:
Cut 4-6 inches from the branch tips of established plants, just above the paired axillary buds (leaf joint).

Rosemary Lore:
Rosemary officinalis: In Latin, ros means “dew,” and marinus “sea” or “Dew or Mist of the Sea. Officinalis means that it is official, medicinal, recognized in the pharmacopoeia.
During Victorian Times, the “Language of Flowers” meaning for rosemary was remembrance. This association dates from ancient times when rosemary was recommended as a remedy for forgetfulness. In ancient Greece, it is said that students wore wreaths of rosemary to energize their minds. At some Victorian weddings, a bride would wear a sprig of rosemary to show that she carried with her loving memories of her old home to her new one. In France, the Victorian meaning was “Your presence revives me,” perhaps because the strong, sharp smell seems to stimulate the senses.
During the Middle Ages, rosemary would be grown in several pots, each pot named with a potential lover. The answer would be the plant that grew the fastest and strongest. Poppets (cloth dolls) would be stuffed with rosemary to attract a new lover. Another folklore tidbit – rosemary will repel nightmares and ensure a good night’s sleep.

by Sue Adams