Homegrown: Worthy Rosemary
If you haven’t already brought your houseplants inside for the season, now is the time to decide what is worthy of your indoor space.
Linn County Master Gardener, Diane Kay Packingham, notes that rosemary can be grown in the soil outdoors in the summer, and while not cold-hardy, the herb can be grown in a pot indoors through an Iowa winter.
Here is more from Diane:
Rosemary A Herb of Wonder to the Sense of Smell
Written by Diane Kay Packingham
Rosemary is one of my favorite Herbs. The smell of the plant alone is worth its weight in Gold. Rosemary is well worth the effort it takes to grow. This herb is commonly used as an ornamental plant, a fragrant plant, and a culinary plant. In the kitchen, Rosemary is a common ingredient in meat dishes such as roasted chicken, pork and lamb. Rosemary is also quite legendary throughout history with medicinal uses based on both true medicine and legendary medicine. Rosemary also has the attribute that it improves memory - which is a terrific old wives' tale!
Rosemary’s Latin name is Rosmarinus officinalis which means “dew of the sea.” It's a woody plant with leaves similar to evergreen needles. It is considered a perennial in some growing zones but not in Eastern Iowa's zone. It's actually a native to the Mediterranean region and is a member of the mint family.
Rosemary can be used fresh or dried. Rosemary will be more fragrant and potent when used fresh. Just beware that when picking rosemary the smell will stay on your hands even after washing. Fresh Rosemary can be put in a bottle of oil - both cooking oil and bath oil. The herb will infuse the oil and add flavor to cooking or a wonderful scent to a bath. The scent is believed to aid a person in feeling healthier.
During the summer Rosemary can be grown outside in Iowa soil. Or the Rosemary plant can be grown in a pot, keeping it going for years. The plant may need to be repotted yearly as the plant grows. Rosemary isn't hardy below 30 degrees so it will need to be brought inside for winter.
Rosemary is a drought resistant plant, requiring 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight to thrive. To keep Rosemary lush it is best to prune the plant from time to time, making sure not to take more than 1/3 off of the plant during any one pruning.
It is best to start Rosemary from cuttings or to buy a plant at a good quality nursery. Rosemary seeds take a long time to start and the plant may not be true to the parent plant.
To harvest Rosemary, snip the stems of the plant, then strip the leaves or needles from the stems. The leaves can be chopped or used whole. Rosemary maybe stored in the refrigerator for about one week, by placing stems in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel. Preserve Rosemary by air drying stems in a bundle hanging upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. When dry remove leaves and place in an air tight container. Dried, whole Rosemary will hold its flavor for up to one year. Rosemary can also be frozen on the stems, but remove leaves from stems to use Rosemary.
But it truly is the fabulous smell of the Rosemary plant that is my favorite feature - the smell of the Rosemary plant is of itself worth the effort of growing this Herb. The rest is an added gain.