Rosemary: Low maintenance herb, spice and ornamental plant

Rosemary: Low maintenance herb, spice and ornamental plant
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The plant is an evergreen shrub. It is used in culinary, in traditional medicine and also grown as an ornamental plant. The name Rose Mary is said to have various origins. The plant has been mentioned in Greek mythology and in bible. The leaves have also a pleasant aroma.

Quick Details of Rosemary

Other Common NamesRose mary
TypeOutdoor Plant
MaintenanceLow
FloweringLate spring
LightBright direct light
WaterRegular watering but water should not stand in pot
TemperatureCan survive the harsh climate up to an extent
SoilAny well-drained potting soil
FertilizerAny house plant fertilizer
HabitatMediterranean
ToxicityAllergic when consumed in large amount
Common DiseasesDamping off, root and crown rot, powdery mildew, blight
Scientific nameSalvia rosmarinus, Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary Buying Instructions

  • Buy a bushy plant
  • Leaves should not be dry and check for any damage in the plant.
  • Pick one or two leaves of the plant and rub with your fingers, it should have fragrance.

Overview of Rosemary

It is a perennial shrub native to the Mediterranean region. They belong to the family of lamiaceae and are herb that can grow up to a height of 3-5 feet. They have needle shaped aromatic leaves and purple flowers. They flower throughout the late spring and summer. In some cases, especially in warm climates the plants can bloom throughout the year. The leaves are added in food and are sometimes grown as ornamental plants. The plants can survive severe drought conditions.

“Rosemary” name is derived from Latin ros marinus which means “dew of the sea”.

Special feature:

The plant contains many phytochemicals. The oil extracted from rosemary plant is said to have 10-20% camphor. The plants when grown in the garden can act as an insect repellent.

Usage and Advantage of Rosemary

  • Used in traditional medicine to improve memory, indigestion, hair loss, joint pain etc.
  • The oil extracted from the plant is used in the cosmetic industry. It is added in soaps and perfumes.
  • The leaf is used as a spice in food.
  • The oil is added in food and beverages.

General Care for Rosemary

Soil: The plants are native to rocky hillsides and thrives best in sandy well drained soil with a pH ranging between 5.6 -8

Light: The plants require direct sunlight at least for 6 -8 hours a day. Care should be taken that the plant is not over heated by the light. This can cause burns and wilting of the leaves.

Watering: They prefer dry soil. Watering should be done only when the soil is dry. Over watering can harm the roots and the plant and lead to root rot and other diseases.

Pruning: They can be pruned often to have a bushier growth. The plants should be pruned right above the leaf joint and not more than 1/3 of the plant should be pruned. The rosemary plants can become root bound hence they should be re-potted ones in a year.

Fertilizer: They do not require fertilizer. However, addition of any liquid fertilizer during the start of new growth(spring) can help in better growth of the plant.

Pests and other problems for Rosemary

Most of the diseases caused are due to the presence of excess water or moisture in the soil or other parts of the plants. Some of the common diseases include:

Powdery mildew: Presence of white powdery substances on the leaves and other parts of the plants. This weakens the plant causing it to wilt and die if not taken care of.

Botrytis blight: Causes the older leaves to rot die.  The water logged parts of the leaves and the stems turn yellow.

Damping off: Often seen in seedlings grown from the seeds. The seedling wilt and die with no appearance of any proper symptoms. This is a fungal disease and is caused due to the presence of excess moisture in the soil.

Root and crown rot: The leaves and the stem turn yellow, wilt and die. Mostly caused due to the presence of excess water in the soil

Control: All the diseases can be controlled by preventing over watering of the plant and overhead watering. The plants should be placed in a well aerated area and should be exposed to ample amounts of sunlight and air.

The plant can also be attacked by aphids, mites and mealybugs. This can be controlled by spraying neem oil.

Propagation of Rosemary

The plants can be propagated either by seeds or stem cuttings.

The propagation by seeds is not a preferred method as the seeds are really small and can be difficult to collect them and germination takes place only when the seeds are fresh.

Stem cutting: It is the most preferred method. A 5 -10 cm long stem is cut out from a healthy plant and the leaves are removed from the bottom. This cutting can be dipped in rooting hormone and then planted in a pot containing peat and soil. The cutting should be watered daily till the roots develop.

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