“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language.” – Thomas Moore
The season is changing quickly. Plants are beginning to wither; the process to go dormant to survive the coming months of cold is in ramping up now. The lack of abundant life will bring with it a palpable drop of energy, so now is the time to foster and sustain life. Plant something new to remember the spring and summer days, and keep it close!
One of my favorite plants is Rosemary. Last summer I worked in a garden center, and everyday I’d brush my hands over the plants, greeting them and whispering encouragement to them in exchange for the gift of their resinous scent. I brought one home, and assumed I knew how to take care of it. Through trial and error, I very nearly killed that plant, but it survives today and has provided several clippings to give life to new plants.
I dream of having a handful of large, healthy Rosemary bushes at each entryway. I see them blessing a household with their pleasing scent and beneficial presence, at home in great big hand thrown and artisan glazed pots. I’ve got dreams of being surrounded by an abundance of plants, but I hold Rosemary dear in these plans.
I hope you can be convinced to add this charming plant to your home!
Rosmarinus officinalis is a woody evergreen native to the Mediterranean. While it’s needle like leaves are reminiscent of pine-type evergreens, rosemary is not quite in the same family. It is a bit more closely related to the mint family (like catnip!). It grows well in rocky, sandy, and loamy soil conditions where drainage is simple. It tolerates heavy sun, heavy salt spray and likes humid, breezy conditions (think on the coast of a warm country….) Rosmarinus literally translates as “dew of the sea”
In optimal conditions, this camphorous plant may grow into a 5ft tall bush. There are a number of ‘trailing’ Rosemary variations, which grow low to the ground; these are often used as a ground cover. Rosemary tolerates trimming very well, and may be cut to preferred size. Its small, attractive flowers are usually a pollinator’s dream in light blue, but range from purple, to pink, and white as well.
Rosemary, and all of its variants, grow in warmer climates. Rosemary will die in climates that dip below about 20 degrees. In colder climates, it may be grown in a pot with well-draining soil, and brought inside where it can receive plenty of direct sunlight throughout the winter.
Folklore and History
Rosemary is historically significant; it has an extremely long and storied past. It would seem that every culture touched by its presence developed story or superstition around its power and influence.
Rosemary was a sacred plant to the early Romans and Greeks. It was used ritually to honor their respective Gods, and is often associated in particular with Aphrodite. In the Christian religion, Rosemary is said to have developed its blue flowers after the virgin Mary washed her blue shawl and placed it on a Rosemary bush to dry.
Rosemary has been used as a token of protection to travelers, in order to deliver them in safe passage. It has been used to ward off disease, and was used for this purpose during the middle ages and time of plague. The French burned an incense of Rosemary and Juniper berries to cleanse hospital rooms.
Other than use as an incense, it was also often used as symbols of luck in weddings, and respect during funerals. It is known as a woman’s plant, and is said to thrive in a household where a woman rules.
Placing Rosemary near a doorway is said to stave off evil spirits and and bring luck to the household.
What is Rosemary Good for?
Glad you asked! You can use Rosemary, in many forms, for so many things! This plant is incredible, delightful, magical.
Rosemary is a gorgeous plant, but other than beautifying an area and repelling a number of pests, growing it can bring you some very real benefits. It has long been known as the plant of remembrance, but several studies such as this one have proven that the scent of Rosemary does in fact have a positive effect on cognitive function and working memory in humans. Sniff away! Try studying with a sprig of rosemary for a boost on your next test.
Using fresh or dried leaves for culinary use adds a boost to the nutritional value, as well as lends a distinct and pleasant flavor to your dishes. Dried leaves make a lovely and bright addition to tea mixes. Unsurprisingly, it pairs well with Mediterranean type foods like this hearty Quinoa Bowl, or this goat cheese Red Lentil Penne.
Steeping rosemary and using the tea that this creates, especially when mixed with other herbs and teas, can make for a beneficial hair wash or skin-loving addition to a bath. It has long been used for these purposes, but may aggravate the skin of some.
It may be used for decoration or crafts around the house, such as in wreath making or in the formulation of gifts. Making spices mixes, infused oils, body scrubs, bath teas, or propagating live plants for seasonal gifting is a phenomenal idea with a homey touch that is sure to be appreciated.
Rosemary, first and foremost, needs full sun and well-draining soil. It prefers humid conditions and good air movement. Water this plant from the top down, as it absorbs water through its leaves and prefers a slightly drier root system. Trimming is highly recommended. Snip branches at the bottom of new growth, just above a set of leaves. The plant will respond by growing two shoots on either side of this trim. Fertilize lightly.
Rosemary can be propagated from these trimmings, or through a layering method.
Trimmings should be from greenwood. The lowest few leaves are stripped, and cuttings are kept in fresh water for several weeks until viable roots have developed. Ask a friend who has a healthy plant for some cuttings!
Layering involves either pinning a branch of young growth into the soil to develop roots while the branch remains attached to the parent plant, or creating a root ball directly on the branch by attaching a device containing soil to it. Once a viable root system has developed, the plant may be cut from its “umbilical cord” and transplanted.
If you live in a climate that doesn’t drop below 20 degrees in the winter, you’re in luck with this plant. Drop one into the ground where the soil is loose and well-drained, and let this sucker grow.
For those of us that live in colder areas, your rosemary will have to live in a pot. Once again, make sure its soil drains readily. Let it live outside in full sun for as long as possible.
When you bring it in, place it near a window where it can receive an ample amount of direct sunlight. Use a spritzer bottle to mist the leaves of the plant on a regular basis. If you can, set up a fan nearby for movement and air flow. Water the root ball as necessary (usually once every week or less)
Rosemary is fairly resistant to pests and other problems, but it is known to develop powdery mildew. Watering from the top down and good airflow usually keeps this from ever developing.
So, have I convinced you?
Will you grow your own plant? What do you think you’ll use it for? Let me know in the comments below, or connect with us on any of the following social platforms!
Now, for the disclaimer – I am not a vet, adventure guide, personal trainer, doctor, nutritionist, or medical authority, this is meant to be only a source of information and inspiration, implementing these techniques into your daily life is something you do of your own free will and at your own risk.
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