Did you know that rosemary is in the mint family? Did you also know that the Latin name for rosemary means “dew of the sea”? There are probably a few things that you didn’t know about rosemary, but you do know what a great herb it is across the board. Rosemary is a very different type of herb as it is actually a small shrub. In fact, I have seen gardens where rosemary was sheared into interesting shapes that bring an ornamental quality to the landscape. Can you incorporate rosemary into your landscape?
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a small, hardy perennial evergreen shrub with small, narrow, spicy leaves on spindly upright stems. In addition to the aromatic, needle-like gray-green foliage, small light blue/lavender or pink flowers appear in winter and spring. Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that is often used as a topiary, container plant, or landscape shrub. Left to develop un-trimmed, rosemary can grow to six feet tall with a spread of four to five feet. There are many cultivars available including groundcover forms to choose from. Standard rosemary can be clipped into a topiary of your liking by trimming every few weeks to encourage new, fragrant growth and to maintain a certain shape. Keep in mind that rosemary is not just for the herb garden anymore! Consider planting this hardy herb in the landscape in a full-sun area with well-drained soil and use it as a low hedge or specimen plant. Regardless of where you plant it, every time you brush up against rosemary, that great appetizing and refreshing scent drifts into the air.
Spot observations indicate that it is adaptable to Florida. However, in our humid climate, rosemary is not as long-lived as you might think. Accordingly, always have a supply of rooted cuttings ready to replace any specimens that have succumb. Rosemary stem cuttings root readily so propagation is a breeze and tends to work better than starting from seed.
The fresh or dried mildly bitter-tasting leaves are the parts used in cooking. Nutritionally speaking , rosemary is extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6.
Whether you use rosemary specifically in herb gardens or slip them into niches in the landscape, inclusion of this edible ornamental makes for a more interesting and useful yard. For more information on all types of herbs suitable to our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Don't forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times - http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.
Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners (2008) Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Stephens, J. M. (2003) Herbs in the Florida Garden. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Naylor, C. Everyone Should Grow Rosemary. The University of Florida IFAS Extension Service in Leon County.
Friday, T. (2006) Rosemary is for remembrance. The University of Florida IFAS Extension Service in Santa Rosa County.
Jean Meadows and Mary King (2015) Food Fare -Rosemary. The University of Florida IFAS Extension Service in Sarasota County.