Rosmarinus officinalis

(a plant for all seasons, many seasonings, and erosion control)

Rosemary, although known to most people as an herb, does double duty as a very rugged, ever green shrub. Especially suited to desert climates, this plant thrives in hot sun and poor soil (with adequate drainage). Some watering, once established, may be necessary, even in the desert, in order to maintain its narrow, daric green, strongly aromatic leaves on the topside of the plant (the leaves tend to be a grey-white on the underside).

Rosemary's flowers are highly attractive lavender-blue clusters, flowering in both spring and winter, perhaps in the fall, as well. Birds and bees are especially drawn to rosemary. Birds prefer the shelter and habitat which rosemary affords them.

Believe it or not, some individuals prefer not to grow rosemary. They complain that the plant is too woody, that it grows too wildly, etc. The culprit is not the plant itself but the fact that it is being given excessive water; too much water causes rank growth. Tip-pinch young plants in order to control growth. It is recommended that older plants be pruned lightly and thinned occasionally.

Remember that rosemary makes awesome ground/bank covers and hedges if managed properly. A little known fact about this plant is that it's great for erosion control.

Several species of rosemary are on the market, including dwarf (up to 2 ft. tall) and some tall ones (up to 6 ft. in height). Enjoy this plant and make full use of its many features by selecting the species of rosemary best suited for your landscaping needs.

Peggy Dierking
March, 1998