RosemaryRosemary, (Salvia rosmarinus), is an evergreen plant of the mint family (Lamiaceae), the leaves are used to flavor foods.  The leaves have a pungent, slightly bitter taste and, dried or fresh, are generally used to season foods, particularly lamb, duck, chicken, sausages, seafood, stuffings, stews, soups, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables, as well as beverages.

Rosemary is a perennial shrub and usually grows to about 1 metre (3.3 feet) in height, though some plants can reach up to 2 metres (6.6 feet) tall. They are dark green and shiny above, with a white underside and curled leaf margins. The small bluish flowers are borne in clusters and are attractive to bees. Rosemary is fairly resistant to most pests and plant diseases, though it is susceptible to certain fungal infections, such as powdery mildew, in humid climates. The plants are easily grown from cuttings.

Keeping rosemary planets growing inside can be problematic, but anyone who learns how to take care of one can keep them alive.  The secret to rosemary is that it likes to be always moist but doesn’t like to sit in the water, so it has to be well drained. Rosemary hates water around its roots, but it will die if the roots dry out.  Kind of tricky.

When you get your plant home from the store, place it (pot and all) into a larger pot with gravel. Be sure the bigger pot has a hole at the bottom for drainage.  You will need something to catch the water that drains out.

Water your rosemary (at the base of the plant) every day or every other day. It doesn’t need much, about half a cup. Let the water run right through the plant and out into the saucer (be sure to empty the saucer). You can put the rosemary plants right in the sink every morning and water them, letting all the water go down the drain. Then put them back in place with something under them to catch more water.

Every so often, give the rosemary a bath, gently rinsing off any dead leaves and other debris that tend to build up around the base of the plant. You can let it soak for a little while, and then drain very well. Rosemary likes humidity, so you can even take the plant to the shower.  But don’t leave it there!  Once a week or so, put it on a bathroom counter, close the door, and take a long, steamy shower. Your plant will love that.

If all else fails and it dies, save the needles for flavor.  Then start from scratch in the spring by buying a small rosemary plant at a nursery or herb fair. Plant it, pot and all in a sunny, well-drained location and make sure it gets plenty of water and that there is plenty of room in the pot for growth. Enjoy your rosemary!

Thanks to Kim Tilley for this advice.