Rosemary is one of the easiest herbs to grow in the South of the United States. It withstands the heat like a champ and does not require constant care once established. Its evergreen and woody nature make it a great addition to the landscape. Here is how to grow rosemary in our central Texas gardens.
When to plant Rosemary?
In central Texas, you can plant rosemary whenever you want. Usually, the transplants are available in the fall and spring. These are both great times to plant anything, as you still have some time to get it established.
Summer is the hardest season to get anything in the ground. The scorching heat makes it difficult for young plants to survive. It is also difficult for gardeners to keep up with the watering.
Varieties of Rosemary
Depending on their growth habits,there are three main rosemary varieties. The upright rosemary reaches between four to seven feet high. These cultivars are a great choice for formal landscapes since they respond well to pruning.
Then the semi-upright cultivars reach two to three feet in height. They also make great landscaping plants, especially as bordering hedges.
The last one is trailing Rosemary. It is less than two feet high but can cover up to eight feet radius. It is a great ground cover for slopes and a trailer down walls.
How to plant Rosemary?
Rosemary the least demanding herb. It does well in most soil conditions. However, it thrives in well-draining soil that is a bit loamy. In central Texas, it is a perennial, so plant it where it won’t be disturbed.
- Choose a spot with at least six hours of direct sunlight.
- Dig a hole twice as big as the plant’s root ball.
- You can mix in some dry-slow-release fertilizer in the planting hole.
- Place the transplant upright in the hole, making sure the stem base is at soil level.
- Backfill with soil pressing it with your hand to eliminate air pockets.
- Water thoroughly.
Maintain a regular watering schedule for at least three months. Once the plant is established, it will become heat and drought tolerant.
Can I grow Rosemary from seed?
Yes, you can start rosemary from seed, but you will need a lot of patience since they take a while to germinate.
Growing rosemary from seed is more useful for Northern gardeners since it is considered an annual for them. For southerners, rosemary is a perennial, and growing it from a transplant is more convenient.
Keep your seedlings well-watered at all times. When they reach three inches high, start hardening them off by exposing them to the outside gradually.
How to propagate Rosemary
Other than from starting from seed, you can propagate rosemary from cuttings. This the most efficient way to get more rosemary plants.
- Make cuttings from the softwood part of the mother plant. (new growth)
- Remove the lower leaves.
- Dip the cleared stem in growth hormone or honey.
- Place it in a small pot filled with moist and sterilized soil.
- Create a greenhouse by covering the plant with a plastic bag tied at the bottom.
- Place in a well-lit spot but not in direct sunlight.
- It takes a few weeks before the roots start to form.
- Check the moisture level.
- After a few weeks, gently pull on the plant. If you feel any resistance, that a good sign.
How to dry Rosemary?
You might want to preserve some rosemary for culinary or medicinal uses. Dehydrating or drying is the common method method of preserving herbs. There are two ways to do so:
Air drying rosemary
- Choose fresh and healthy-looking branches.
- Wash them well, then tap them dry with a clean towel.
- Tie the springs together into bundles. Don’t make them too thick to allow good air circulation.
- Hang the bundles upside down on a herb drying ring.
- It takes a week or to dry completely.
Oven drying rosemary
- Choose fresh and healthy-looking branches.
- Wash and towel dry.
- Lay them flat on a cookie sheet.
- Place in a warm oven at low-temperature 200F (90C)
- Check on them every ten minutes until they are completely dry.
How to store rosemary
Dried rosemary leaves tend to be quite hard. You might want to give them a quick chop to break them a bit. You may use a small chopper or a spice grinder for this. Then store the dried rosemary in an air-tight jar, preferably in a dark place.
Rosemary for a Pollinator garden
Rosemary blooms for a lengthy period of time. Pollinators love it, especially bees. The flowers are small and come in shades of purplish-blue. Some varieties have white blossoms. They open up gradually in a cascading way along the stem and last for days before they fade.
Healing properties of Rosemary
My mother used to make rosemary syrup and give it to us as a cough suppressant in winter. According to the Healthful Herbs book by Jethro Kloss, rosemary is an old fashioned remedy for colds, colic, and nervous conditions. It is also very good for headaches.
Drinking rosemary tea or inhaling its steam are ways to get its benefits. There are also side effects of consuming rosemary, such as nausea, vomiting, and uterine contractions. Pregnant women should avoid drinking rosemary tea.