Growing and Using Rosemary

Growing and Using Rosemary
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Growing and Using RosemaryRosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, is a tender perennial, hardy in Zones 8 to 10. It's native to the Mediterranean region, which means it likes things hot and dry!

There are many varieties of rosemary, some trail over the edge of a pot and have a slightly unruly character. Others are shorter and bushier, while others have a tall habit of up to 5 or 6 foot in the right climate.

Some varieties claim survival to -15 degrees if grown sheltered and near an outside wall. However, don't count on this. In cold climates, plan on bringing it inside in early fall, or treat it as an annual and replace it each year. I've had good success with potting it up and bringing it in each year at the end of the summer.

In late spring, when it's truly warmed up and the nights stay above 50 degrees I put it in a raised bed, add a little organic fertilizer or compost and leave it there all summer. You can also leave it potted and bury the pot up to the rim in the garden.

Bringing rosemary inside during the winter is a little tricky. You don't want to over water it, but at the same time it shouldn't become bone dry either. Water when the section of the soil is dry and then only water a small amount. Don't drench it. Keep it in a southern window where it will get plenty of sunshine. It also needs good air circulation--no stuffy rooms.

My rosemary is not trained or shaped into a pretty tree. It's a functional herb plant that I harvest quite often, so though it's appearance is fairly neat, it's not a decorative plant for me. However, those with patience may shape the rosemary plant into a topiary or small tree when it's grown in a pot. In zones where you can keep it in the ground year round it can be used much as a hedge or shrub since it will grow much larger for you, than those of us who have to bring it indoors.

Some gardeners mist their rosemary plants. Because it can suffer from mildew I don't do this. However, I do alternate keeping it on the bathroom windowsill in the winter, since it's a sunny window, so it is exposed to some humidity. Again, it does need air circulation and a mostly dry environment or it could come down with mildew and possibly mites or other pests. Never place the pot on pebbles or let it stand in water.

Rosemary is easily dried, though I usually just use if fresh year round for cooking, vinegars and cosmetic recipes, so I don't usually dry it. However if you have an abundance and would like to store it dry, gather it in small bunches and hang it in a dry location out of the sun. Or dry it on screens in a ventilated area. When dry, strip from the leaves and store in bottles or sealed plastic bags. You can also freeze the leaves in small freezer bags.

For the following recipes you can use dried rosemary if you use about 1/4 of what it calls for of fresh.

Rosemary Bread


1 package dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour Olive oil 1 beaten egg

In a large bowl, add the yeast to the warm water, add sugar. Let stand until foamy. This should take 5-10 minutes. Add the rosemary, salt, whole wheat flour, and a cup of the regular flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until it's mixed and forms a loose, sticky ball. Add the remaining flour, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead about 8 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for an hour or until it's doubled in volume. Punch down and knead it briefly to remove air. Shape into a slightly flattened ball. Place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the loaf with oil. Let rise for 45 minutes or so, until it's about doubled. Brush it with the egg. Bake at 375 degrees until the top is browned, about 45 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack.

Maple and Rosemary Chicken


1 cut-up chicken, about 3 pounds

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp. salt

dash pepper

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 tsp. lemon juice

Place the chicken pieces in a shallow, buttered pan. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Bake uncovered, 50-60 minutes at 325 degrees until done. Baste occasionally with sauce. Serve with sauce over pasta or with potatoes.

Herbed Asparagus


2 pounds asparagus

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 tsp. fresh rosemary

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Cover the asparagus with water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook until just tender-about 5 minutes or so. Drain well. Combine the butter, herbs and pepper to blend. Melt the butter mixture in a large skillet and add the cooked asparagus, toss and heat through. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Rosemary Crock Pot Chicken


1 5-pound roasting chicken, rinsed and fat removed

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 stalks celery with leaves, cut into pieces

2 small onions, sliced

1 whole garlic head, cloves peeled

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Remove and discard giblets and neck from the chicken. Rinse and pat dry. Trim excess fat. Place rosemary, celery, 1/4 of onion, and 6 garlic cloves in the cavity of the chicken; tie legs together with string. Place chicken, breast side up, in the crock pot . Add remaining onion and garlic. Drizzle lemon juice over chicken; sprinkle with the salt, pepper and paprika. Cover; cook on low for 8 hours. NOTES: You can replace the lemon juice with herb vinegar. You can use less garlic if you wish.

Grilled Rosemary Vegetables


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

1 clove garlic

2 sweet peppers

2 medium sweet onions, cut in wedges

1 medium zucchini

1 medium eggplant

15 cherry tomatoes

8 ounces fresh mushrooms

skewers, wooden or metal

Mix olive oil, rosemary and garlic in a small bowl. Cut the vegetables in wedges or chunks, leaving the tomatoes whole. Thread the peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms alternately on each skewer, leaving a bit of space between vegetables. Brush the vegetables with the rosemary garlic oil. Preheat the grill. Place skewers on the hot grill 5 to 6 inches over medium heat about 10 minutes, turning and brushing with the oil mixture.

Rosemary and Orange Syrup


1 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup rosemary

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/1/2 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons orange zest

Bring the water to a boil and pour over the rosemary and orange zest. Let steep for 2-3 hours. Strain and combine with the orange juice and sugar. Boil until it's thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Cool completely, skim the top and pour into a sterilized bottle. This can be used for waffles or as a sweetener for teas.

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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