Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) comes in many cultivars, and the same cultivar grown on the West Coast may look very different when grown in the Midwest. It is a pungent herb with hints of pine resin. Growing it takes little effort as it is a drought tolerant plant perfect for a rock garden or growing along the top of a dry wall. It is a perennial, hardy to Zone 8; and since seedlings can take months, it is best purchased as a potted plant for most home gardens. If you do start with seeds or cuttings, begin 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Plan in well-draing soil and keep at 70 degrees. Outdoors it likes full sun, and can be kept on the dry side. Rosemary will rot with wet feet, so don’t let it sit in water. Many people make the mistake of letting their rosemary dry out too much (especially when it’s indoors) but a dry rosemary is a dead rosemary. Water when the soil feels dry.
Harvesting and Storing Rosemary
The pungent, curved needle-like leaves have many uses. It is easily dried by hanging woody stemmed bunches in a warm place. The leaves can then be stripped off and bottled. Rosemary is a very pungent herb, and it is best used sparingly on bland foods. In cooking, it is frequently used with chicken, and in baking, such as in breads.