Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an herb with needle-shaped leaves indigenous to Asia and the Mediterranean Basin. This popular evergreen shrub is a member of the mint family and is classified as a perennial, meaning it continues to regrow on its own each year as weather permits. Rosemary bushes can grow to be about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide and have flowers that can be blue, purple, white, or pink.
Three Ways to Use Rosemary
Rosemary is attractive and relatively easy to grow, making it a popular ornamental garden plant.
Rosemary is used in cooking for seasoning soups, stews, meat dishes, and sauces. It is also a popular ingredient in tea. It makes a delicious dressing for bread when chopped into olive oil (see bread recipe below).
Rosemary’s distinctive aroma makes it a common ingredient in perfumes, shampoos, and soaps.
How to Grow Rosemary From Cuttings
Since rosemary seeds have a low germination rate and are slow to grow, the easiest option for growing new rosemary plants is to use stem cuttings. Rosemary stem cuttings mature in a few months, allowing you to harvest Rosemary faster than you’d be able to if you started from seed.
Find a mature rosemary plant and snip the stem five to six inches from the tip, ensuring your cuttings come from the soft, flexible new branches. Use sharp scissors to take cuttings and cut extra stems in case some fail to grow.
Delicately strip off the needles from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting byremoving the lower leaves.
Place cuttings in a jar of water. Move the jar to a warm area that receives indirect sunlight.
Every two to three days, replace the old water with fresh water.
Root growth should occur within a few weeks, but it could take longer in cooler temperatures. Note: If any cuttings shed needles and turn brown, those cuttings didn’t survive, and you can stop waiting for their roots to grow.
When roots develop around the base of healthy cuttings, they’re ready to be planted.
Plant each stem cutting in a small container. A sandy soil mix with good drainage is ideal.
When planting, avoid damaging the roots by carefully placing each cutting into a three-inch hole in the potting soil. Gently fill the hole with organic matter and water enough to moisten the soil.
Each new cutting should receive indirect light and water when the surface soil dries out. Once you notice new growth, give the cutting a gentle tug; if you feel resistance, it has roots and is ready for transplanting.
Move your rosemary plants to a larger container or your garden bed. Place them into compost-rich soil with good drainage.
Choose a location where they receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily.
How to Care for Rosemary Plants
Monitor for pests such as aphids, spittlebugs, whiteflies, and red spider mites are all attracted to Rosemary and can cause its foliage to wilt.
Be sure to inspect your plant frequently, and if pests are present, use insecticidal soap to deter them.
Root rot is a disease that often plagues Rosemary due to overwatering. Be sure that the soil dries out in between waterings.
If your Rosemary is indoors, it is susceptible to mold and powdery mildew due to a lack of good air circulation. To improve air circulation indoors, run a fan near your plants.
Prune to encourage new growth. Use pruning shears to trim away any dead or damaged shoots and flowers. Prune in spring or early summer, so there’s plenty of sunlight to boost the production of new foliage.
Rosemary oils are at their flavor peak right before the plant blooms.
Harvest just before blooming. When harvesting rosemary, cut off the desired amount of sprigs and hang them upside down to dry in a cool, dark place. Once dry, strip the sprigs of their needles by pulling them between your pinched fingertips. Make sure to store the leaves whole to maintain their flavor, and only chop them once you’re ready to use them in a meal.
Plant with some companion plants, such as; vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, and parsnips.
INGREDIENTS FOR ROSEMARY BREAD (2 LOAVES)
1 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup of warm water
2 1⁄2 cups flour
Extra flour for bread dough consistency
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp rosemary
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2hrs 30mins Yields: 2 LOAVES
Place yeast, sugar, and water in a large bowl or food processor and allow the mixture to become bubbly.
Mix in 1 Tbsp butter, salt, and 2 cups of flour.
Add 1 Tbsp of the fresh chopped Rosemary.
Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or in a food processor for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Add more flour if necessary.
Wipe the bowl with oil, place the dough in it, and cover it with a towel.
Let dough proof in a warm place for over one hour until the size doubles.
Punch down the dough and divide it in half.
Let dough rest for about 5 minutes.
Spray a baking pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Shape the dough into two small rounded oval loaves.
Sprinkle the remaining Rosemary over the loaves and press lightly into the surface. Brush loaves with Olive Oil.
Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Carefully remove from oven, brush with remaining butter (and salt if desired).