Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis

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Rosmarinus officinalis comes from the Mediterranean areas.
It is an aromatic plant with very fragrant leaves, very used in the kitchen. The leaves are persistent. It is a shrub that in nature can reach 3 meters in height. Blue-mauve flowers that bloom starting in the spring.
Rosemary is an evergreen and bushy perennial shrub, the only representative of its kind in the Labiatae family. The stem of Rosmarinus officinalis is initially prostrate, but with time it becomes erect and branched. The leaves are dark green, lighter on the lower part, numerous, sessile and opposite, gathered in young twigs and inserted at 2 to 2 in the nodes. The hermaphrodite flowers, present (where the climate is mild) for most of the year, are of a beautiful violet-blue color and gathered in clusters at the axil of the leaves. The fruit is composed of four achenes of brown color and small size.
Pollination is almost always done by insects. In particular, bees and bumblebees are strongly attracted by the flowers and the perfume emanating from this plant.
The root system is very developed, fibrous and resistant, and allows the plant to live in arid, poor and dry soils. It is very useful to make the land more compact and to avoid landslides.
If left to grow it can even reach 2 meters in height and as many in width.
Different bearing patterns can be found. In the spontaneous state it is generally an erect shrub. However, cultivars with a prostrate or semi-prostrated habitus have also been developed, suitable for rock gardens and useful for covering low walls or steep areas.


Family, genus and species
Labiatae, Rosmarinus officinalis
Type of plant Evergreen shrub, erect, semiprostratus or creeping
Exposure Full sun
Rustic Rustic, but fears prolonged frosts
Ground Loose, drained, alkaline
colors Light blue, white, pink
Irrigation light
Flowering From the spring
Propagation Apical cutting (in summer) or seed
Height Up to two meters
Composting In spring

Rosemary is native to the entire Mediterranean basin, particularly in coastal areas. It is found, spontaneously, mainly on dry and sunny grounds. Become part of the Mediterranean scrub, colonizing cliffs and gorges among the rocks. It is widespread from sea level up to 650 meters above sea level. On the islands, especially in Sardinia and in Corsica, it can also be found up to 1500 meters above sea level.
The etymology of its name is rather controversial. Certainly comes from the Latin. Some think it means "rose of the sea", others consider it more adherent "sea dew".

Rosemary exposure

As far as exposure is concerned, rosemary is a plant that looks good in the sun or in partial shade. It is a Mediterranean plant that needs heat, dryness and sun but also in half shade it grows without problems if at least the temperatures are good and the soil is not too humid.

How to grow rosemary

The cultivation of this shrub is not at all difficult. In fact, Rosmarinus officinalis is found in many gardens and on as many balconies and terraces. It is held in high regard because it is a very decorative plant in all seasons in addition it finds various uses. It is also one of the most popular aromatic essences of Italian cuisine, marrying wonderfully with meat, fish or vegetable dishes. Let's look at everything we need to know to be able to cultivate this aromatic correctly.


Rosmarinus officinalis does not need particularly rich soils, growing well even in poor and calcareous soils.
It is planted in March April. Rosemary is not a demanding plant in this respect. It lives very well in loose and well-drained substrates, even sandy ones. It prefers an alkaline pH and soils characterized by the presence of good amounts of calcium.
If we want it to grow well, we avoid substrates that are too compact (for example, the silty or clayey ones). If our garden had this type of soil we can try to lighten it by mixing it with fine, coarse sand and adding a good amount of gravel. In this case it is always a good idea to create a thick draining layer on the bottom. A soil that is too compact could, in the event of heavy rains or abundant irrigation, cause water stagnation with consequent radical rot and asphyxiation. The same rules must be followed for container cultivation. We always try to give large and especially deep vases, with light soil and making sure that the drainage of the water works excellently. Here are some examples of soils and other products suitable for rosemary: //


Rosemary multiplication can be by seed or by cuttings. In both cases it will be easy to get new individuals of this plant as long as there are ideal climatic conditions.


Rosemary branches can be harvested throughout the year. The harvest is carried out by cutting apical portions of the branches. The harvest allows to contain the growth of rosemary stimulating it to produce new jets.


Being a semirustical plant, Rosmarinus officinalis adapts to areas with a mild climate. It can also be grown in the northern regions of our peninsula, as long as it is in sheltered positions.
The rosemary officinale is rather rustic and lives well in almost all the Italian regions. In the Center-South it will rarely have problems with winter cold, if not in the high mountains.
It resists well up to -15 ° C, but is particularly afraid of sudden frosts, especially in spring, and cold winds. So if we live in Northern Italy or in mountainous areas it will be good to plant the plant in a well sheltered area, near a wall possibly facing South. In this way during the day there will be an accumulation of heat that will be released during the night.
If the season was particularly stiff we can wrap our plant with a special sheet and mulch the foot with leaves, straw or other insulating material.
More exposed to risks are the shrubs grown in pots, especially if they are small. In fact, ground bread could freeze completely, irreparably damaging the root system. In this case it is preferable to surround the vase with polystyrene or insulating rock wool and cover the aerial part with special fabric.

Flowering and seasonality

A healthy shrub may remain flowered for much of the year, especially where winters are not particularly cold.
Bear in mind, however, that rosemary behaves in a particular way under the aspect of seasonality.
Where the winters are mild and the summers, on the other hand, very hot, the plant shows the phenomenon of summering. This means that during the months of July and August it enters a period of vegetative rest. It stops growing and flourishes to maintain its strength for less extreme seasons. Instead it is able to remain active and flourished throughout the rest of the year.
In areas with less heated summers, the vegetative rest occurs during the winter months.


Rosemary is able to withstand dryness well and, as in its natural environment, the humidity in the air is often sufficient to survive.
In general, for plants in open ground, we will have to resort to irrigation only during the first year of planting, distributing plenty of water every 15 days, in the absence of precipitation.
After this period we will intervene only in the case of very prolonged droughts during the warm months, without keeping in mind the brief rain showers, even abundant ones (which often do not manage to penetrate deeply, being almost completely washed out).
In pot we give water about twice a month, absolutely avoiding the use of the saucer. Let us remember, however, that the larger the container, the less we will have to intervene from this point of view.


They are not strictly necessary. If we want, in spring, both in pots and in full earth we can distribute a handful of slow release rather balanced granular fertilizer. If we want to stimulate flowering we slightly increase the amount of potassium and nitrogen.


The ideal exposure for this shrub is certainly the full sun. Only in this position will it be able to grow at its best. Even the half-shade tolerates, especially during the morning hours.


The best time for planting is the fall, for the Center-South and the coastal areas, and the spring for the North. The ideal distance between one plant and another is 70-100 cm, even if this parameter is closely related to the cultivar and the use that it wants to do. If, for example, you want to get a hedge and see it thick in a short time you can even distance yourself by 50 cm.


This shrub does not need to be pruned strictly. If you wish, you can let it grow free, as in nature.
But if we want a beautiful thick bush we will have to commit ourselves already from the first year and cut the branches in half. In this way we will reinforce the plant and, topping it, we will stimulate it to create numerous secondary branches that will give a fuller and more compact appearance to the whole. This procedure will be repeated every year. Let us also remember that the plant flowers mainly on the new branches. Pruning also stimulates this decorative aspect.
During pruning it is necessary to pay attention not to go down too low, leaving only the woody part at the base. In fact, rosemary is not capable of pushing back from the roots or wood and the plant would therefore remain irreparably damaged.

Pests and adversities

It is a plant very resistant to any cryptogamic disease. Rarely there are mild attacks of the Ascochita rosemary fungus, but the damage is always of little importance.
Let us just remember to moderate the irrigations so as not to cause water stagnation and eventual rot to the root system.

Rosemary variety

As we have seen rosemary is a plant that requires very little attention, it is very decorative and adapts well to many types of garden.
This is why in the last few years breeders have worked hard to obtain varieties with different growth habitations, sizes suitable for different purposes and more imagination in colors.
Currently the main varieties we find differ from each other in their growth habit. In fact, there are prostrate rosemary, which grow by crawling along the ground, or sapling rosemary, which grow a lot in height to form a species of sapling, with lateral branches and a posture developed upwards.
Finally, the most classic type of rosemary is the low bush, recognizable by the low and compact appearance of the plants.

Among the erect rosemary we report

albiflorus, with light green leaves and white flowers
Cap Bear: white flowers, medium-sized
Gorizia: very vigorous, with large flowers and leaves and deep blue flowers
Joyce de Baggio: with aureovariegate leaves and compact dimensions, bright blue flowers and very fragrant
Lerida rather compact, white and pink flowers
Majorca Pink beautiful abundant flowers, in pink
Sissinghurst, very rustic, with blue dotted blue flowers, about 1.50 high
Tuscan Blue very vigorous and fragrant, with beautiful glossy leaves. Long flowering
Ulysse about 1.30 cm, very fragrant. Characterized by very dark blue flowers, spectacular

Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis: Among the hanging and semi-prostrated ones we propose:

Beneden Blue: blue flowers, narrow and fragrant leaves
Bonifacio dark blue flowers
Boule very vigorous with glaucous, rustic leaves. Blue flowers with blue dots
Corsican Blue semiprostrate, purple-blue flowers
Eve, very dark flowers. Partly prostrate, partly erect.
Marenca gray green leaves and blue flowers
Montagnette gray-green leaves and white flowers
Vicomte de Noailles with hanging branches and erect branches, pink flowers with lilac dots
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