An evergreen herb, rosemary looks good all year round and is great for pots, the veg patch and the allotment. It even looks good in Mediterranean-style borders, and its blue/purple flowers are very attractive to bees.
Rosemary is very easy to grow and can be widely used in cooking; it has healing properties, too.
Here are some key facts about this fantastic herb.
Did you know…
Used for thousands of years as a memory stimulant, rosemary has been the subject of recent studies as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. A natural antiseptic, it was once used as a strewing herb and in posies to ward off disease.
Pale blue-purple flowers on a rosemary branch
With powerful bacterial and antifungal properties, rosemary should be eaten in moderation and the essential oil used externally.
Fresh leaves can be harvested at any time of year once plants are well established. To cut large quantities for storing, harvest in summer when not in flower, cutting the stems of green, healthy leaves just above woody growth.
Snipping off a rosemary sprig
Rosemary can be dried, frozen or used to make herb oil, butter or vinegar. To dry, hang bunches of stems in a dark, airy place for several weeks, then store in jars or bags to retain flavour. To freeze, lay stems on greaseproof paper, then strip the frozen leaves and store in sealed bags.
Sprigs of rosemary in a glass bottle of oil
How to grow
Rosemary enjoys free-draining soil and plenty of sun. It thrives on poor soils and tolerates drought. Grow in a sheltered site, especially in cold areas. In containers, grow in soil-based compost with added grit. Prune only to restrict or shape growth, in summer as soon as flowering is over. Propagate by cuttings; either softwood cuttings in spring or semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
Find out how to take rosemary cuttings.
Taking rosemary cuttings
Good rosemary varieties to grow
‘Mrs Jessop’s Upright’ is tall growing and suitable for a hedge in mild areas, while ‘Benenden Blue’ is mounded and compact. For ground cover, try ‘Prostratus’.