What is the most important thing about a good spaghetti sauce? Herbs of Provence, of course! And in these herbs of Provence, rosemary is probably the most important spice, and the decorative herbs cannot be missing in many other delicacies. So if you don’t have rosemary in your garden yet, it’s high time you did.
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What kind of plant is rosemary?
The rosemary forms its own genus within the mint family, which stands out overall for the fact that it has developed an unusually large number of plants full of essential oils, which we like to use as aromatic herbs. However, it is a very small genus which, besides our Rosmarinus officinalis, only includes one or two species, all evergreen subshrubs.
Rosmarinus officinalis originally grows on the coasts of the Mediterranean, which is why romantic natures attribute the name rosemary to the Latin terms ros (dew) and marinus (sea), according to which rosemary would be the “dew of the sea”. More earthbound linguists explain the origin of the name from ancient Greek: Rosemary is composed of “rhops” and “myrinos”, which means something like balsam bush, and the rosemary actually exudes fragrant balsam.
Buy rosemary plants
Young rosemary plants are sometimes offered on the market in spring, and many of the local nurseries are now also offering the most important aromatic herbs as young plants. Especially with rosemary, which is not that hardy, in colder regions in Germany, growing it in the ground can be the decisive factor in allowing the plant to survive in your garden.
If you are no longer one of the rosemary discoverers, but are just about to try out the various varieties as a longstanding rosemary grower, you should buy from a specialist dealer who cultivates a large number of rosemary varieties. Such a specialist trade is z. B. the organic nursery Christian Herb in 87439 Kempten in the Allgäu, you can order the pre-grown plants via bio-kraeuter.de.
The best location
Like other Mediterranean herbs, rosemary prefers a sunny, dry and lime-rich location. So in our gardens a piece of garden soil that is (mostly) in the sun and also guarantees good water drainage. You can mix the earth with a little gravel or sand, a little clay in the earth is also welcome. Rosemary does not need compost or fertilizer it is used to poor soil.
The rosemary usually thrives in sunny places that offer it shelter in the north and east. If you want to plant it in a mixed crop, sage is a very good neighbor. The rosemary should be planted in this location as early as April, it needs as much time outdoors as possible with us in order to develop well and develop strong roots.
Caring for rosemary in the garden
When the rosemary has been put in place, the earth should be mulched all around with coarse gravel, this will create conditions similar to those in its home. Please do not use bark mulch, as it would store too much moisture, but rosemary grows better under dry conditions.
Rosemary does not need more care during the season, it does not want regular nutrient additions, only after overwintering outdoors it is given a handful of organic complete fertilizer in spring. It also does not need regular watering; additional watering is only required if it is dry for weeks in summer.
Rosemary – overwintering and cutting
The rosemary grown in its homeland is actually not hardy in the entire area north of the Alps, i.e. in all of Germany. You should initially assume that if you bring a rosemary bush with you from a holiday in Spain, it is best to put it in a pot in the garden soil so that you can move it to a frost-free, bright room in autumn.
Most of the rosemary varieties listed below are also winter hardy at and only to around minus 5 degrees, and only with winter protection made of double fleece. These can therefore only be overwintered in the garden in the mildest areas of Germany. However, today some varieties are bred with particular winter hardiness, and the microclimate in the garden is also important, and over time – and over some rather mild winters – a plant can get used to a colder location.
If a rosemary is to overwinter outdoors, it should definitely be given winter protection for the first few years. You can also help it if you protect it from snow pressure with a bonnet made from a slatted construction. This winter protection can be removed again in April – but it should in any case remain within reach until after the ice saints, so that it can be reapplied if there is still a risk of late frosts. The plants are very sensitive to frost, especially when budding begins.
If you are not sure what your rosemary can withstand and prefer to overwinter it indoors, put the pots in a cool and light place and be very careful when watering the rosemary in winter. You should also always check after some time whether water has collected in the saucer or in the planter and pour it off, if your feet are wet, your rosemary can die very quickly in winter. The leaves should also not get wet when watering, otherwise there is a risk of rot.
You should cut the rosemary regularly, as every subshrub tends to lignify to a greater or lesser extent. The green shoots always bind to the outer ends, and if you do not shorten these shoots regularly, a new green shoot would grow outwards and the old original shoot would lignify.
So it is good for rosemary if you constantly cut off the new green shoots from all sides except for a small green residue, which means that every harvest always requires a bit of pruning. In addition, you can give the rosemary an all-round general cut shortly before the start of the season, which ensures that it branches out more.
Rosemary in many interesting varieties
Rosmarinus officinalis has been cultivated in various European gardens for a very long time, now there are various interesting varieties with different taste nuances that you can purchase from specialized dealers. Here is an overview of “whet your appetite”:
- Rosemary “Arp”: A variety bred to be hardy even in rougher areas, can withstand temperatures of up to minus 25 degrees.
- Rosemary “Backnang”: Grows quite strongly, can easily overwinter outdoors in sheltered places in most German regions.
- Rosemary “Beneden”: Belgian variety with fine needles and a lot of aroma, smells a little like pine grove.
- Rosemary “Blue Lip”: Robust selection with expressive dark flowers, intense but not bitter taste.
- Rosemary “Blue Lagoon”: Very fast growing variety with blue-green needles and blue flowers, slightly curved branches and a strong scent.
- Rosemary “Blue Rain”: In Germany often hardy, if it is given some wind protection and a cover in winter, it grows hanging.
- Rosemary “Punch”: Among the rosemary growing to be overhanging mats, the most resistant, can withstand up to minus 15 degrees with protection.
- Rosemary “Bozen”: grows half upright and quite willing, broad gray-green needles and light blue flowers, intense fragrance.
- Rosemary “Cincango Muro”: Grows very compact, green and fairly broad needles, the scent has a hint of bitterness.
- Rosemary “Corsican Blue”: grows hanging and with regular pruning very dense after flowering, flowers medium blue.
- Rosemary “Florence”: Rosemary from Tuscany, broad dark green leaves and strong, upright growth.
- Rosemary “Florence Rosa”: Decorative variety with shiny leaves, pale pink flowers and a mild taste.
- Rosemary “Florence White”: Grows noticeably upright and actually shows mostly pure white flowers in spring, with a mild and not a bit bitter taste.
- Rosemary “Foxtail”: Very densely needled variety with overhanging shoots that are reminiscent of foxtails.
- Rosemary “Gorizia”: Very fast growing variety with broad, silvery needles and excellent taste, reaches impressive heights for a rosemary.
- Rosemary “Haifa”: Ground-covering rosemary that creeps and grows very densely, the bright blue flowers can be seen for most of the year.
- Rosemary “Majorca Pink”: Short gray needles and pink flowers from September to May, must overwinter frost-free.
- Rosemary “Miss Jesopp” (Pyramidalis): Named after a famous English gardener, with its pronounced upright growth, it is very suitable for keeping in pots.
- Rosemary “Primerly Blue”: Has very narrow gray needles in abundance and a very fine aroma, grows upright.
- Rosemary “Prostratus”: Excellent variety for pots or hanging baskets, which becomes an impressive plant in a very short time.
- Rosemary “Punta di Canelle”: Slightly curved shoots, medium blue flowers and a restrained fragrance, grown from an Italian nursery.
- Rosemary “Rex”: Exceptionally strong, dense and fast growing variety with lush green leaves.
- Rosemary “Shepherd”: Grows upright, slowly and creeping and forms interesting and bizarre shapes after a few years.
- Rosemary “Severn Sea”: grows half upright and half overhanging, clearly green needles and deep dark blue flowers, pleasant fragrance.
- Rosemary “Sudbury Blue”: Intense fragrance, medium blue flowers, spherical growth, hardy even in cold areas with some protection.
- Rosemary “Ulisée”: Impressive dark blue flowers, grows upright with decoratively curved branches.
- Rosemary “Veitshöchheim”: Breeding by the Veitshöchheim Horticultural School in Lower Franconia, winter-proof and strong-growing with a lot of aroma.
- Rosemary “Weihenstephan”: Bred by the perennial nursery of the Weihenstephan University of Applied Sciences, vigorous and fairly hardy with gray-green foliage and a strong scent.
- Rosemary “Wilmas Gold”: grown from the “Blue Rain” variety, a mutation with unusual golden yellow foliage.
In case that is not enough choice for you: The second species of the genus Rosmarinus includes the Rosmarinus eriocalyx, which grows in the province of Almeria (Spain, Andalusia) and North Africa, and the Rosmarinus tomentosus, which exclusively grows on the limestone rocks on the coast of the Andalusian province of Granada populated. They are also occasionally offered for sale or can get into your garden as holiday souvenirs. The Rosmarinus eriocalyx is a creeping ground cover, which is characterized by significantly softer needles than the conventional varieties, the Rosmarinus tomentosus is described as an endangered dwarf variety that develops flowers all year round. If you come across a Rosmarinus lavendulaceus, it is either a Rosmarinus eriocalyx, or, as “Rosmarinus x lavendulaceus”, a hybrid of R.
Regardless of which variety you have chosen, you can harvest your rosemary all year round. You should then always cut off a whole branch, see pruning care above.
These twigs can often be used whole as a herb, the ingredients are released under the influence of heat to the same extent as with individual needles, but in many cases the twig has a much more decorative effect.
The excessively harvested twigs are dried, which really does not require any effort with the rosemary twigs: Tie them together and hang up in an airy manner or spread them out on a tray and place in the sun – rosemary is really insensitive.
It takes a little effort to find the varieties of rosemary that are sure to be hardy in the given location. But that’s it with the effort, there is hardly an herb that is easier to care for than rosemary. Incidentally, who does not always want to be the skewer for grilled meat or the seasoning for Italian dishes, after all, rosemary is the medicinal plant of 2011, can be boiled into stimulating herbal tea, as rosemary water is supposed to accelerate hair growth … inventive gourmets use rosemary even in their herbal lemonade approach.