Drought Tolerant Herbs – Rosemary: Planting and Growing Rosemarinus officinalis

Rosemary, or Rosemarinus officinalis, is an evergreen herb that is drought tolerant and fragrant. It is a member of the mint (Lamiaceae/Labiatae) family and can be used in many different ways; from the kitchen to medicinally.

Characteristics of Rosemary

Rosemary is a shrub with leaves that look like needles and scale-like bark. Leaves are aromatic with a smell much like pine and are one inch in length. The flowers are (mostly) blue and in clusters, appearing in the winter and in the springtime. Some cultivars may have pink flowers and other variances.

Rosemary Growth Patterns

According to Floridata, Rosemarinus officinalis prefers dry sandy soils that are well drained. It should not be acidic and if it is the gardener will need to amend the soil with lime periodically. Full sun for at least six hours during the day is needed for best growth. In true desert-like conditions it will need some supplemental watering. It is hardy in USDA zones of 8 through 10. Propagate the shrub by cuttings or by seed with tip cuttings in potting medium being the best choice.

Using Rosemary in the Kitchen

Rosemary is a very versatile herb with its unique flavor that can complement soups, meat, or sauces to name a few. Rosemary does very well on lamb dishes. It can be used fresh all year thanks to the evergreen nature of the shrub. Planting near a kitchen window can give the benefit of being close at hand whenever the cook needs it. It makes a good vinegar or butter when infused with the herb.

Rosemary Medicinally

The leaves and flowers have an oil that when put into a bath water will stimulate the senses. The oil and herb is said to have an antibacterial nature and was used in folklore medicine as a circulation aid, an immune system booster, and an aid to improve concentration.

Rosemary in the Garden Landscape

A natural heat loving shrub, it does well in most any application: terrace, near a wall, or in full sun lawns. If the gardener dares to be adventurous, think about making topiary out of the shrub and prune it into an interesting shape. It is a staple in most any herb garden and can be a quirky addition to a desert garden with its ability to withstand some drought.

Rosemary is a unique plant. At home in the kitchen, in the medicine cabinet or the landscape rosemary is able to touch most every aspect of life. Try something different the next drought tolerant garden that is thought of and include this versatile plant.