All forms have attractive small lavender-blue or white flowers that bloom in late spring or summer, although they do have a tendency to appear sporadically throughout the year. Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary grows well in hot and dry climates and is incredibly drought tolerant, once established. Pick stems regularly and use to flavour meat dishes – roast chicken, lamb and casseroles – and this will also promote a more compact and bushier shrub.
Rosemary grows best in hot dry climates, but it will also grow in cool or cold climates, provided there is protection from frost in winter. Plant rosemary in full sun or in a spot where it receives between 6-8 hours of sunlight.
Rosemary prefer well-drained soils that are slightly alkaline. Check your soil pH (see The importance of soil pH) and apply Yates Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime & Dolomite to help raise the pH, if required. Prior to planting, enrich the soil with organic matter, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser and fork in well.
Feed rosemary during the warmer months of the year with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser.
After planting, water regularly and deeply. Once established, rosemary can withstand longer periods without watering – ideal for waterwise gardens – but will perform better if watered, especially during hot dry periods. Mulch well with an organic mulch like sugarcane or pea straw to help keep the soil cool and moist.
Pests and diseases
Rosemary are fairly tough plants but can sometimes be attacked by sap-sucking pests like aphids and whitefly. In humid climates, rosemary is susceptible to fungal diseases, like powdery mildew. To reduce the risk, trim stems and branches regularly to improve light and air circulation. If any leaves are affected, remove and bin them.
To help keep rosemary bushy and compact, lightly prune stems after flowering – you can use these clippings to grow more plants (see How to grow rosemary from cuttings). Feed lightly after pruning to help plants recover.
Rosemary grows easily from cuttings. You can take softwood cuttings in spring or semi-hardwood cuttings in late autumn or early winter (wood is relatively firm but still fairly flexible).
To form a low hedge, plant 3 saplings per meter and prune regularly to avoid leggy growth.