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Zone
Zones 4-24, 26-32, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary
Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Evergreen, Herbs, Shrubs

Genus name means "dew of the sea," reflecting the plant's native habitat on seaside cliffs in the Mediterranean region.

Tough and versatile, rosemary grows most luxuriantly just above the tide line, braving wind and salt spray—but it will thrive inland, even enduring blistering sun and poor alkaline soil, if given moderate water and infrequent light feeding.

Height ranges from as low as 1 ft. to as tall as 6 ft. or more. Plants are thickly clothed in narrow, typically 1 to 1 1/2-in.-long resinous, aromatic leaves that are usually glossy dark green above, grayish white beneath.

Small clusters of 1/4- to 1/2-in. blossoms in various shades of blue (rarely pink or white) bloom through winter and spring; bloom occasionally repeats in fall. Blossoms attract birds, butterflies, bees; produce excellent honey. Leaves are widely used as a seasoning.

Flowers also are edible; add them to salads or use as a garnish.

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Barbecue’, photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Barbecue’, photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters

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'Barbecue'

Grows 5 ft. tall,2–3 ft. wide, has excellent fragrancefor cooking; blue flowers.

'Blue Spires'

Strong verticalgrower, to 5–6 ft. tall and aswide or wider with age; can bepruned for narrower form. Deepblue flowers. Superb landscapevariety; makes tight-shearedhedge. Excellent for seasoning.

'Collingwood Ingram', 'Ingramii', 'Rex #4'

To 2–2 1/2 ft.high, to 4 ft. or wider; narrowerand more upright with pruning.Branches curve gracefully.Flowers in rich, bright deep bluewith violet veining. Tallish bankor groundcover that provides excellent color. Not good forseasoning; flavor is too piney.Tender.

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Golden Rain', photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Golden Rain', photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic

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'Golden Rain'

Also sold asJoyce DeBaggio. Bushy, uprightgrowth to 2–3 ft. high and wide.Green leaves with irregulargolden edges; variegation ismost prominent in cool weather,fades in summer. Deep violet-blueflowers.

'Huntington Carpet', 'Huntington Blue'

To 1 1/2 ft. high;spreads quickly yet maintainsa dense center. Pale blue flowers.Best variety for bank orground cover.

'Irene'

Vigorous spreaderthat covers 2–3 ft. or more peryear, eventually mounding to1–1 1/2 ft. high. Deep lavender-blueflowers. One of the cold-hardiestprostrate varieties.

'Majorca Pink'

Initially erect to 2–4 ft. tall and 1 1/2–2 ft. wide; eventually twists into picturesque shape, flopping to 3–4 ft. wide. Lilac-pink flowers. Slightly fruity fragrance.

'Prostratus'

Grows 2 ft. tall or less, 4 to 8 ft. wide. Branches trail, are clothed with fragrant, needle-like leaves, and tiny blue flowers in spring.

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Spice Islands’, photo courtesy of Mountain Valley Growers, Inc.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Spice Islands’, photo courtesy of Mountain Valley Growers, Inc.

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'Spice Islands'

Uprightgrowth reaches 6–8 ft., makingthis a good screen or background.Large blue flowers, goodfragrance. Once grown for commercialseasoning production.

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’, photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’, photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters

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'Tuscan Blue'

Vita Sackville-West’s original, brought toEngland from Tuscany, had relativelybroad (to 1/4 in. wide)leaves; deep violet-blue flowers;upright habit to 6–7 ft. tall and1 1/2–2 ft. wide. A plant long soldas ‘Tuscan Blue’ in the U.S. fitsthis description but has lightblue flowers; with age, it turnswoody and bare at base.

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