Rosemary in Latin is Rosmarinus officinalis, which means “dew of the sea”. This herb, originally from the Mediterranean, is used for cooking. Rosemary is quite common in dishes from Italy, Spain and France. Varieties of rosemary have been cultivated for over 5,000 years, according to ancient Sumerian clay tablets. During biblical times it was considered a powerful herb that could live 33 years, just like Jesus Christ.
Rosemary has plenty of medicinal properties and it is considered a stimulant, tonic and astringent. It also improves circulation, boosts the immune system, soothes joints and muscle pain. Many people use rosemary hair products as it helps stimulate hair growth and clean dandruff. Thankfully it is very easy to grow rosemary, so there is no excuse not to include this herb in your garden or house.
Varieties of Rosemary
There are two main varieties of rosemary, those that grow upright and those that creep. Which type you choose to plant depends several factors, but space will be your main concern. Some varieties of rosemary are smaller and easier to grow in a pot, especially the dwarf types which have a mounded habit.
Other varieties of rosemary grow quite tall. Standing rosemary makes great hedges, while creeping types are used as ground covers, to stabilize slopes or spill over walls. No matter which rosemary you grow, they are all fragrant and edible. There are over 1,000 species of the Salvia genus, although you may see some nurseries list rosemary as the genus Rosemarinus.
Tuscan Blue Rosemary
Tuscan blue is one of the preferred varieties of rosemary since it has an ideal Mediterranean flavor. Leaves release a potent fragrant oil when crushed. This is an upright variety that grows quite rigid and tall, up to 6 feet or more, and between 2-4 feet wide. Can be used as a hedge, with needle-like grayish-green evergreen foliage. As its name suggest, it has clear blue flowers which are quite charming.
It is a fast grower, which does well when pruned, but can also be left untouched. Pruning Tuscan Blue Rosemary after flowering will make the foliage grow denser. Do not fertilize this plant and make sure it gets at least six hours of full sun per day. Like other types of rosemary, do not water it much. It can survive mild winters if left outside.
Albus rosemary is also known as white flower rosemary because of the flowers it produces in spring and fall (if you live in a place with seasons) which are very attractive to bees. This highly aromatic herb grows upright with green stems. It may reach 5-6 feet in height and diameter when fully grown. Like other varieties of rosemary, it prefers to be planted in the garden rather than in a pot.
You can grow this rosemary in almost every type of soil, as long as it doesn’t have too much clay. This perennial needs full sun and hot weather. It is a great culinary herb, which can be used in almost any recipe. Goes well with lamb and pairs with garlic.
Miss Jessup’s Rosemary
This type of rosemary grows upright up to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It is an evergreen perennial that needs full sun and very little water. Miss Jessup Rosemary grows fast in sandy, loamy and rocky soil. Leaves are rather large compared to other varieties of rosemary; they are dark green, thin and pointed. They produce a powerful scent because of their resin, especially when grown in full sun. Stems are green and slender when young, turning woody as the plant ages.
Miss Jessup’s Rosemary has sky blue flowers that bloom abundantly late in spring. Prune after flowering to keep the plant compact and pick or cut the tips of the branches for the best flavor. It can be used in almost all types of dishes including potatoes, tomato sauces, lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. Brew in a tea to help with digestion.
Collingwood Ingram Rosemary
Collingwood Ingram was a British plant collector who introduced many varieties of plants. Like other varieties of rosemary, this plant is a perennial in warmer climates and an annual in colder climates. It is a creeping rosemary that works well in a window box or planter, as well as an edging plant. Its bright green foliage will cascade over the edge. Flowers are a pretty shade of lavender-blue. This rosemary grows between 2-3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
Collingwood Ingram Rosemary needs full sun and damp, sandy and alkaline soil. Do not overwater, since rosemary likes dry soil. It can be grown in a container or outdoors. Leaves have a pungent smell and are used for cooking.
Lockwood de Forest Rosemary
This type of rosemary was also named after a person: Lockwood de Forest who was an American painter and interior designer. He found this type of rosemary in Santa Barbara, California, and began reproducing it from cuttings. The herb received his name after his death in 1949. This prostate (creeping) rosemary is great for garden borders or low rock gardens. It grows up to two feet tall, so it is low growing compared to other varieties of rosemary, and 6-8 feet wide. Can be planted in a large container.
Lockwood de Forest Rosemary is an ornamental with lush and thick green needles and white stems. Flowers are pale lavender-blue which blossom in the spring. Both flower and leaves are edible. The best time to harvest leaves is during the summer. Rosemary needs well drained soil and full sunlight. Make sure to mulch if growing rosemary in a colder climate.
Spice Island Rosemary
Spice Island is one of the most pungent varieties of rosemary. Its flavor is citrusy and clean; while it smells like nutmeg and cloves. Because of all of this, it was named after the Spice Islands Company. This type of rosemary should be used in moderation when cooking. Chefs use it with meats, potatoes and to make bread with herbs. Stems are used for veggie or meat skewers on the barbecue.
This perennial needs full sun and is drought resistant. It is very fragrant, one of the most aromatic varieties of rosemary, which can be smelled from far away if there is a breeze. Spice Island Rosemary is a good fly repellent. Rosemary needs well drained soil since it’s roots can rot if there is too much water. It can grow upright between 3-4 feet in height making a stunning addition to your garden or can be grown in a container. Flowers bloom dark blue.
Blue Boy Rosemary
This rosemary is ideal for gardeners who have little space. Few varieties of rosemary are dwarf like this one that only grows up to 1 feet tall and a little wider. This slow grower can be planted in a pot, on the edge of a herb garden or in a rock garden. Rosemary needs full sun and can tolerate heat and drought. Soil needs to have good drainage and a pH between 6.5-8.5. Under proper conditions, this plant can live for decades.
Leaves are small, evergreen, and fragrant which can be used for cooking, but a bigger amount is needed compared to other varieties of rosemary. Pale blue flowers come out in the summer and bloom for quite some time, attracting plenty of bees.
Golden Rain Rosemary
Thomas De Baggio discovered an unusual branch on a common rosemary plant and decided to develop this variety, which he named after his wife Joyce De Baggio. What is unique about this plant is its multicolored leaves, which radiate a golden aura, mostly visible in the spring and fall. It changes colors throughout the seasons, during the summer leaves are dark green. Temperature is what causes this change. Golden Rain Rosemary produces light blue flowers most of the year.
This type of rosemary grows small and compact, between 3-4 feet tall. Plant it in the corner of a large garden bed, where it will becoming a great edging plant. It is hardy up to 20 F (-6.6 C). As other varieties of rosemary, Golden Rain prefers full sun and well drained soils. It does not need much pruning, other than when you cut it for using it in any recipe.