Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis (139092 bytes)

Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis

By Diane Golz, Colorado Master GardenerSM, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver

Rosmarinus officinalis is a savory herb with many uses.  It symbolizes remembrance, loyalty and friendship, and is often carried by a bride as well as mourners at a funeral.   

Greek scholars are said to have worn it around their necks to improve their memory and concentration when taking exams. Rosemary means “dew of the sea”, and grows wild all along the Mediterranean coast.  It grows in the cool mist by the sea and in hot dry Colorado (in the summer!). Rosemary has several medicinal and culinary uses based on its aroma, oil, and flavor. 

 Rosmarinus officianalis has many varieties of scent, flower and growth habit.  It is hardy only in zones 7-10, but has been known to survive Colorado winters if planted next to a brick wall.  

 It can be grown in containers or in the garden.  If planted in a container, be careful not to over water.  The containers can be brought indoors during the winter and placed in a sunny window, but it is difficult to keep the plants healthy.  If planted in the garden, space plants about 6 inches apart in a sunny location.  Rosemary likes neutral to alkaline soil in a dry well drained area. 

 It is difficult to start rosemary from seed, and it grows very slowly.  Cuttings can be rooted in water or in a mix of 50% perlite and 50% course sphagnum peat moss. 

Rosemary is vulnerable to spider mites, mealy bugs, white flies and thrips. 

Hanging cut stems upside down in a cool airy place until they are dry is one way to preserve rosemary.  You can also freeze it by placing the fresh cut stems in a zip lock bag and placing it in freezer.  Use as fresh right from the freezer.  

Fresh or dried rosemary leaves can be used to flavor meats, soups and stews or made into a tea.  It’s a beautiful fragrant plant that is a wonderful addition to your herb garden, or in a pot on your patio.

Photo: Judy Sedbrook


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Date last revised: 01/05/2010