Flavor-Rich Rosemary: From Garden To Kitchen

And How To Eat Rosemary Potatoes All Year Round

Make flavor-rich Rosemary happy in the garden and it will reward you in the kitchen. Think of its origins and you’ll get it right. The delicious herb Rosemary is native to the rocky and dry areas of the Mediterranean, and duplicating that environment is sage advice for growing the shrub! If we can simulate Rosemary’s Mediterranean environment, we can successfully grow the plant.

It is a woody, mounding perennial plant ( Zones 7-10) with a lifespan of several years. Its original name was Rosemarinus, and it means “dew of the sea.” Rosemary will be easy to grow in your garden and be ready for your kitchen every day if you can reproduce these three features.

Rosemary in sunshine, sage advice for herbs, rosemary from garden to kitcchen
  • Sun for about 6 or more hours per day.
  • Excellent drainage, Rosemary will not accept wet ground.
  • a slightly acidic to neutral pH, of about 6-7.

Rosemary: It’s Flavor Profile

Rosemary ready for cooking. Sage advice for herbs-garden to kitchen

We like to describe herbs as aromatic and even pungent. Rosemary is the leader in flavor, the herb is in fact, flavor-rich! It has the most innovative vocabulary to describe its flavor of any herb I know You will hear this: woodsy-peppey, lemony-piney, minty-sage-like, assertive-balsamic eucapaliptus-floral! You get it! Rosemary is the single most powerfully scented of herbs. This means that even fresh it stands up to cooking. Also, its water content is so small that it is much longer-lasting when dried than most herbs.

So, how best to use Rosemary’s rich flavors in the kitchen? Use it with cooked meats, lamb, pork, chicken, stews as well as fish. It will brighten tomato sauce, vegetables, potatoes, soups, and salads as well as lighter fish dishes. If Rosemary is new in your kitchen, start small. I like to use large washed and dried sprigs of Rosemary added early to the cooked meal. With its low water content, Rosemary works best when used like a bay leaf. Add a large piece and take it out when you serve your meal.

For more information on growing and cooking with herbs, read this.

Rosemary’s Significance (Salvia rosmarius)

Rosemary is one of the most economically significant members of the mint (Lamiaceae) family and is now grown around the world. Its uses are culinary (including food preservation) and therapeutic. We have records showing its use as both a culinary and medicinal herb back to 500b.c. in the Greek and Roman Empires.

Rosemary-The Genus Changed

Rosemary, up until recently Rosemarinus officinalis, is now in the genus Salvia and its new name is Salvia rosmarinus. This was a long time coming. Rosemary had had its original name since 1753 when binomial nomenclature began. Horticulturalists always noticed a similarity to salvia. The stamens of both plants were known to be similar, but it is only recently that the two plant groups were merged into the same family.

This is extra work for us gardeners who constantly complain about changes coming just when we have finally memorized the old name! However, the thinking is that if plant nomenclature does not reflect the latest scientific knowledge, it is not going to be helpful to us. So Just remember it.

Here is my own contribution of tricks to help us remember our botanical Latin. Latin for Gardeners.


Rosemary: Sage Advice for the Kitchen

Rosemary is a delicious and aromatic herb with many uses in cooking. It is wise to remember that rosemary is one of the herbs with Mediterranean origins, and this means that the closest you can get to recreating a sunny and relatively dry Mediterranean environment, the easier it will be to grow rosemary successfully.

Rosemary Benefits and Uses

Equestrian Painting of Napoleon

We use rosemary to flavor meats, fruits, and eggs; It provides a scent for cosmetics and perfumes. In fact, Napoleon wore a fragrance, custom-blended from it!

Rosemary Salt

Rosemary-flavored sea salt is easy to make, with only three ingredients and no cooking. It keeps in a sealed container almost indefinitely, and it has as many uses as you have ideas. Today we ate it in roasted vegetables and portobello mushroom sandwiches. homemade Try it also on homemade baked potato chips.

If you like to make hostess gifts, you can make this early and always have a pleasant, useful gift ready to give. Here is how to make it.

I searched lots of recipes and eliminated any that dried the rosemary. I wanted the essential oils to scent and flavor the salt, and the best way to do that is with fresh rosemary. Eventually, with ith trial and error, I arrived at this set of proportions.


  • one cup of fresh rosemary leaves pulled from the stems
  • and one cup coarse kosher salt ( I used Morton brand in the big blue box)
  • three cups flakey sea salt (being in Florida, I used Alessi brand, this is a local company based in Tampa). Use your favorite brand but ensure it is genuine sea salt in the large flake format.

Grab your food processor and, using the pulse or on/off feature, blend the rosemary leaves with a cup of coarse salt. The result should be well mixed with the green specks evenly spread throughout the white salt, and it will feel damp to the touch and clump when you squeeze it.

Mix the salt and rosemary mix with the three cups of sea salt. Mix it thoroughly, and the result will still be damp and slightly clumping. Now dry it. Some recipes recommend a low oven. If I spread the salt mix in a large cookie tray for several hours, it dries beautifully. Now seal it up and don’t forget it when you are cooking.

Rosemary Honey

This is a remarkably simple recipe for Rosemary flavored honey. How many ways can you find to use this tasty condiment? Martha Stewart-Rosemary Honey.

An Easy Idea-Rosemary Potatoes

Add the following to a baking pan of new potatoes. A little garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and sprigs of Rosemary, mix this with enough olive oil to cover everything, and bake. Any leftovers make a quick and savory potato salad for the beach. Be careful though, people will take this out of the refrigerator for snacking, and you will find none left!

The Plant-Rosemary: Garden to Kitchen

It’s a pungent evergreen woody perennial hardy in zones 7-10. In colder climates, you can bring it indoors for the winter. That is where the problems usually start. I think I can help a little. If you can keep your plants growing indoors, you have fresh rosemary and its sweet and resinous flavor readily available for winter meals. Rosemary grows in two forms. It has an upright form which usually reaches 3′ tall. It can reach as high as 6′ tall and 4 or 5 ‘ wide.

The second form is low and spreading and is a popular warm-climate landscape plant. It is popular in Florida, where we garden, and it adds scent wherever it is nearby. The prostrate form is an ornamental plant and should provide a weaker flavor than the upright forms as it has less oil.

I mention the large size because if you have room for one, they make really marvelous skewers for lamb kabobs.

Sage Advice for Growing Rosemary


You can grow Rosemary from seed, but germination rates are low and the process is slow. Plant from cuttings or small plants. You can start them indoors about 10 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Here is how to find your seasonal frost dates.

Plant Rosemary in full sun and well-drained soil with a pH of 6-7.5. Sandy/loamy soil works well as Rosemary will not live in wet places. If you do not have soil that drains well, add sand or plant in containers where you control the soil composition. How to select good potting soil.

Rosemary Care

Water and Fertilizer


Rosemary benefits from light fertilizer, apply it in spring and late summer. Do not fertilize close to the date of the anticipated first frost.


Water Rosemary cautiously. More damage to Rosemary is done by overwatering than by any other error. Water thoroughly every one or two weeks. It is difficult to recognize the need for water as the plant does not wilt as does a broad-leafed plant. Signs of drooping are very subtle. There is good advice in the video embedded below.

Rosemary In Containers-Garden to Kitchen

Rosemary is successfully grown in containers. We can move the plant in the rainy season in our hot climate. In temperate climates, this allows you to bring the plant indoors to your sunniest window for winter cooking. Plants in containers require more fertilizer and water than plants in the ground.

How To Care For Rosemary In Containers

Mr. Gilson makes the point that he waters the potted plant in a sink, watering thoroughly and then allowing it to dry out completely.

This video made by Gilson’s Nursery in Groton, MA, is the best explanation I have found about transplanting and care of potted Rosemary. It is very helpful, especially if you have ever killed a rosemary plant over the winter.

Pests and Diseases of Rosemary

Rosemary is about as stoic as a plant can be. If we don’t kill them with too much water, they go on for years with minimal attention. In our garden, they are always ready and productive when we are cooking.

Diseases of Rosemary

Root Rot and Powdery Mildew are the most common fungal diseases. In Root Rot, the plant will wilt, and the terminal leaves and stems die off. Root rot is almost always fatal. Powdery mildew appears as a white powder on the plant; avoid the problem by keeping the plant in the sun, in very good drainage, and allowing plenty of air space between the plants. If you get it, use a fungicide and choose one designed for edibles!


Aphids and whiteflies are common and damaging garden pests. Whiteflies are white; aphids are in different colors. Use a hard spray of water to remove them or use an insecticidal soap.

Spittlebugs are common pests. They look like white droplets and can be removed with a heavy spray from the water hose. If they persist, use horticultural oils.

Pruning and Harvesting Rosemary

Because Rosemary is a woody perennial and can easily grow out of hand, pruning is important. You may be surprised by the large number of YouTube videos devoted to” monster “Rosemary bushes.

The best shaping of your healthy Rosemary plant probably comes from the kitchen. The best-looking Rosemary plants in my garden are those I need for the kitchen. They are hand-trimmed multiple times during the week just so we can use them for meals.

When To Prune

Prune as needed throughout the year. Pruning in spring will produce vigorous new growth. You can prune into the summer until about 4 weeks before the first anticipated frost in your area.

The first principle of pruning the plant is to start young. Start when the plant is 4-6″ long. The plant will produce multiple stems at any point you have cut. When the plant is 8″ long, trim it back again for a full bushy plant.

Why Regular Pruning Is A Good Idea

New growth will not appear along those bare stems if the plant has green on top. If the plant is all bare with green on top, it can not be revived. You can cut the entire plant back by 1/3 without damaging it.


Your Rosemary plant will give you so much culinary pleasure that you will want to harvest on an almost daily basis, Don’t overlook opportunities to use it like infused oils, cocktails, and salads.

The plant will give you aromatic, clean flavor and oils all year long, but the period just before blooming will be the flavor peak. If you plan to harvest for leaves to dry, this would be the best time.

Growing Rosemary Indoors Over The Winter

There are five major reasons why rosemary fails for us indoors in the winter. Here they are:

  • Failure to fully acclimate the plant to indoor conditions
  • Lack of sun
  • Watering Errors
  • Powdery Mildew & root rot
  • Pest Attacks

What To Do About It

We acclimate our plants in preparation for their seasonal trips indoors and outdoors. Plants moving indoors for the winter need pots with excellent potting soil (especially with good drainage).In addition, they need to be cleaned of pests before coming indoors as pests carried indoors on one plant can attack every house plant.

We like to bring the plants in at night and out again in the day for about two weeks as part of the acclimation process. In rosemary, spend several weeks transferring the plant to lower sun areas than it is accustomed to. Once indoors, place the plant in your sunniest south-facing window during cold weather.

Here are the steps to acclimating your plants to life indoors.

Water when dry. Check the excellent video embedded in this article.

Powdery Mildew is related to damp conditions and lack of air circulation. Ensure that rosemary has plenty of air space and is not crowded by other plants.

Pests, wash any plants before they come indoors. If pests are found indoors on edible plants like rosemary, use an organic pesticide like Neem Oil.

Growing rosemary indoors is more difficult than some other herbs; the rewards are the wonderful taste and coming indoors to that scent on a snowy day. (A tiny trip to the Med!)

Easy Herbs To Grow Indoors

Try basil chervil, chive, cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley, sage, or thyme. These should be among the easiest to grow on a sunny south-facing window.

Good Varieties of Rosemary

Our interest here is in Rosemary as a culinary herb. Therefore these varieties are chosen for the best edible features. Desirable features include succulent leaf growth and a high content of oil for the best flavor. These features tend to be more common to upright varieties. Use a nitrogen fertilizer and harvest the leaves before the plant produces flowers.

These are specialty plants, and I have chosen the list from various sources. I made a good effort to get information from good cooks. If I found a breeder’s website, I have included a link to it. Availability is seasonal. If you want to plant a specific Rosemary, it may require planning.

Benenden Blue

This plant is upright with a wide branching habit. The leaves are dark green, short and glossy, and the flower an intense blue. It is a rare plant and was found in Corsica in the 1930s. It is hardy in zones 8-10 and blooms in late spring or early summer.

Blue Spires

A highly aromatic shrub, it has gray/green foliage and long-lasting blue flowers. It thrives in well-drained, poor soil in zones 6-10. This is a source of plants.

Flora Rosa

This is a scented, weeping variety with pink flowers.

Tuscan Blue

This one has a gentle flavor and is favored by many chefs. A source of plants is here. It is sturdy and makes a good source of skewers for grilling vegetables and meats. It is ornamental, with very pretty blue flowers.

Majorca Pink

An upright plant 2-4′ in height has lavender-pink flowers. It does well in sandy soil and is hardy in zones 8 -11—grower’s website.

Miss Jessup’s Upright

This plant is tall and decorative and produces long spires of leaves. The thin, pointed leaves are resinous and aromatic. Note that the spelling of this name varies. This is a breeder of various rosemary varieties in CA.


Very cold, hardy rosemary, it can live in hardiness zone 6. If you need height in your garden, Arp is taller than most and has attractive blue flowers. This seller offers fall shipment on several varieties.


Bushy and scented, it has white flowers and is good for cooking—a Grower of this variety.

Huntington Carpet

This is a spreading variety with dark leaf color and is less woody than some other varieties. The plant source is here.

McConnell’s Blue

Very popular as a culinary plant, it has gray-green coloration and a prostrate form. Rosemary has a sharp taste and a pungent scent for a source of plants.


This is a vigorous growing and spreading plant and is popular to trail over walls. The flower is violet-blue. Hardy is in zone 6-10. This one works in containers or hanging baskets if space is tight. This is a breeder’s website.

Holly Hyde

Holly Hyde has a lot of aroma and flavor and is oil-rich. When you rub the yellow/green leaves, you feel oil. The stems are trailing and branch easily.

Hills Hardy

Hardy is the word here; this cold-hardy variety is recommended for zone 6. It is an upright, irregular form with large pale blue flowers in early spring.


If you like gardening and good food, you will find Rosemary a welcome addition to the garden. It is relatively easy to grow, and you can use it daily in the kitchen. Use it wherever you are as an annual plant, buying an inexpensive new one each spring and cooking with the last of the old. Bring your container plant indoors for the winter or in zones 6 and above. Keep it in the ground to grow large.

The plant is decorative and can become a specimen, a hedge, or even a topiary.

Companion Plants

In companion planting, we group certain plants because they have a beneficial effect on one another just because of their proximity.

Planting Rosemary nearby will help any plants in the cabbage family, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. It is good near beans and carrots because its volatile oils repel their common pests. It also benefits leafy greens. The Rosemary scent will mask the scent of the carrot and discourage carrot flies.

This is an explanation of how companion plants and beneficial insects can help your garden.