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Salvia rosmarinus

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Rosmarinus officinalis
Phonetic Spelling
SAL-vee-uh rose-ma-REE-nus
Description

Rosemary is a perennial, evergreen herb in the Lamiaceae (mint) family that is valued for its fragrant, ornamental foliage and as an enhancement in cooking. The genus name, Rosmarinus, comes from the Latin words ros (dew) and marinus (sea), or dew of the sea, in probable reference to the ability of this plant to thrive well in coastal areas (sea cliffs) and exposure to ocean mists. It is native to Africa, Europe, Western Asia, and the Mediterranean.

Rosemary does best in light, slightly acidic, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. It tolerates drought, partial shade, salt, heavy pruning, and most soil types. It is easily transplanted and rooted. However, it has a low tolerance for wet, humid environments and requires careful tending in an appropriate spot. Once the bloom has passed, severely pruning is an option to encourage dense foliage growth. Rosemary plants are slow to germinate from seed, and gardeners might find more success propagating from stem cuttings, layering, or division. 

The plant has an arching or rounded form and, when mature, can reach 6 feet in height. Some cultivars are grown to be small enough to keep indoors. Note that the cultivar 'Prostratus' has a form that is lower and creeping.

Rosemary is at home in many types of landscapes and gardens: butterfly, pollinator, children's, rock, winter, edible, and cutting gardens. Position it near a patio or in a play area. It is suitable for containers, as low hedges or borders, and in places where it can cascade. Rosemary is deer resistant. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Linear leaves are green on top and whitish underneath
  • Flowers are axillary, usually blue
  • Foliage is evergreen, aromatic when bruised

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot, and poor air circulation, which can foster powdery mildew. Wet, poorly-drained soils in winter are usually fatal, and heavy clay soils and overwatering can stunt plant growth. Overly moist soils can cause phytophthora. 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Nuts" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

More information on Salvia.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Pollinator and Culinary Garden Lake Wall Garden Border Landscape Pinewild County Club, Moore County Bee Hive Garden, Wake Co Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Vegetable Garden- Reynolda Gardens Rock Herb Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Arp'
  • 'Prostratus'
    low, creeping variety
  • 'Tuscan Blue'
'Arp', 'Prostratus', 'Tuscan Blue'
Tags:
#fragrant#arching#evergreen#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#edible plant#perennials#white flowers#shrub#silver leaves#needles#white bark#fragrant leaves#edible flowers#shade shrub#nectar plant#blue flowers#salt tolerant#shade garden#woody#spring flowers#scales#winter interest#showy fruits#hedges#nuts#columnar#moist soil#ncemgva2018#food source wildlife#cpp#herbaceous#well-drained soil#spreading#long-lasting flowers#rich soils#summer flowers#woody shrub#flowering shrub#herb garden culinary#needled evergreen#deer resistant#children's garden#foundation planting#herbaceous perennials#edible landscaping#playground plant#needled#long bloom time#leathery#rounded#summer interest#rock garden#border planting#cold tolerant#cutting garden#spring interest#fragrant needles#pollinator plant#edible garden#edible leaves#fantz#leathery leaves#dried arrangements#fruits summer#edible shrub#green leaves#fruits spring#shade border#exfoliating bark#loamy soils tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#patio planting#dry soils tolerant#male pollinator plant#butterfly friendly#winter flowers#winter garden#partial shade tolerant#drought tolerant vegetable#shade flowers#bee friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#recreational areas#non-toxic for cats#container plant#coastal plant#vhfn#vhfn-h#low hedge#early childhood
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Arp'
  • 'Prostratus'
    low, creeping variety
  • 'Tuscan Blue'
'Arp', 'Prostratus', 'Tuscan Blue'
Tags:
#fragrant#arching#evergreen#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#edible plant#perennials#white flowers#shrub#silver leaves#needles#white bark#fragrant leaves#edible flowers#shade shrub#nectar plant#blue flowers#salt tolerant#shade garden#woody#spring flowers#scales#winter interest#showy fruits#hedges#nuts#columnar#moist soil#ncemgva2018#food source wildlife#cpp#herbaceous#well-drained soil#spreading#long-lasting flowers#rich soils#summer flowers#woody shrub#flowering shrub#herb garden culinary#needled evergreen#deer resistant#children's garden#foundation planting#herbaceous perennials#edible landscaping#playground plant#needled#long bloom time#leathery#rounded#summer interest#rock garden#border planting#cold tolerant#cutting garden#spring interest#fragrant needles#pollinator plant#edible garden#edible leaves#fantz#leathery leaves#dried arrangements#fruits summer#edible shrub#green leaves#fruits spring#shade border#exfoliating bark#loamy soils tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#patio planting#dry soils tolerant#male pollinator plant#butterfly friendly#winter flowers#winter garden#partial shade tolerant#drought tolerant vegetable#shade flowers#bee friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#recreational areas#non-toxic for cats#container plant#coastal plant#vhfn#vhfn-h#low hedge#early childhood
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Salvia
    Species:
    rosmarinus
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The intensely fragrant foliage of this shrub is commonly harvested for a variety of purposes including cooking and potpourri. Oil is commercially used in some perfumes, soaps, shampoos, lotions and other toiletries. Ancient Greeks and Romans threw sprigs of this plant into graves to signify their desire to remember the departed. This plant was also used in Ancient Greece to strengthen memory, and students wore sprigs in their hair when they studied.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Layering
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Africa, Europe, Western Asia, Mediterranean
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract butterflies and bees.
    Play Value:
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Highly salt and drought tolerant; resistant to damage by deer.
    Edibility:
    Teas; flavoring for vinegar, jam, bread, butter, stuffing, vegetables, stew, and meat dishes and, when mixed with other herbs and salt, as a flavoring for most dishes.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Columnar
    Erect
    Irregular
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Schizocarp
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are nutlets and are nonornamental.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Tiny pale blue to white flowers bloom in clusters along the shoots of the prior year’s growth. Where grown outdoors in USDA Zones 8-10, flowers typically bloom from January to April. Flowers are sometimes but rarely white or pink. The corolla is 2-lipped, upper lip is concave and 2-lobed, lower lip is 3-lobed. There are 2 stamens that are strongly exerted. Inflorescence is a short, axillary raceme whorled around the stem.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Needle-like leaves are closely spaced on the stems and are very aromatic with a strong flavor useful in cooking. They are opposite, simple, linear, narrow, entire, revolute, green above and white-tomentose beneath, strongly aromatic when bruised, and are less than an inch in size. Short, dense hairs present on the underside of the leaf and they are sessile, with no petiole.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    Peeling in linear strips. Scaly, white bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Houseplants
    Patio
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heavy Shade
    Salt
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems