Rosemary is an herb that’s not just for the kitchen spice rack. You can use rosemary to make sachets for your drawers or a rinse for your hair. And rosemary oil adds a pleasant piney scent to soaps, creams, lotions, and toilet waters.
Rosemary grows in shrubby clumps of branching stems covered with wonderfully fragrant, needlelike, green leaves. This herb is a half-hardy perennial that’s an evergreen in Zones 8 through 9. In Zones 6 and 7, you can grow the hardy variety ‘Arp’, or you can grow rosemary as a container plant that’s overwintered indoors. Plants can reach 5 to 6 feet tall where they’re hardy outdoors; container plants reach 1 to 3 feet tall.
Soil preparation: This aromatic herb grows best in well-drained, sandy, or gravelly soil and full sun.
Planting: Seedlings grow very slowly, so you’ll want to buy plants and start with them for fastest results.
Spacing: Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart (if you plan to grow your rosemary as a perennial in the garden, space the plants a good 4 feet apart).
You can continuously harvest rosemary as long as the plants are growing. Strip the needles from the stems, then chop them before using. Rosemary also dries and freezes well. Freeze whole sprigs, and when you need some leaves, slide your thumb and index finger down a sprig, taking off as many leaves as you need.
In ancient Greece, students wore rosemary garlands in their hair while studying for exams because they believed rosemary would help improve their memory. In the Middle Ages, men and women placed rosemary sprigs under their pillows to ward off demons and prevent bad dreams.