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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Rosemary for Remembrance...

A good friend just got a rosemary topiary as an early Christmas gift and called me wanting to know how to take care of it, so this blog is for any of you who may get a rosemary (topiary or otherwise) for indoors this winter.

Rosmarinus offionalis is native to the Mediterranean.  It’s a member of the Lamaceae family—which includes oregano, basil, thyme and mint.  Legend says that Mary spread her cloak over a white-flowered shrub and thereafter, it began to bloom with blue flowers.  The plant became known as Mary’s Rose. 

In the Middle Ages, it was associated with weddings and often worn as headdresses by the bride.  It was also tucked under pillows to help prevent nightmares and planted around houses as protection from evil.

Due to its Mediterranean origins, rosemary is sun-loving and drought tolerant.  It is moderately winter-hardy.  Those of us who lost a well-established rosemary plant this past winter (me, included) also know that it doesn’t like temperatures in the single digits—particularly when combined with wet soil. 

To successfully grow rosemary outside here, you need lots of sun and very well-draining soil.  Certain varieties of rosemary are more winter-hardy than others (though none like temperatures below 10 degrees.)  The most winter-hardy varieties commonly found are Hill’s Hardy, Arp, and Salem.  If you grow rosemary outside in a container, then pull it to a very protected area over the winter (right up next to the house, for example) and pile an armload or two of leaves or pine needles around the pot.  If they forecast temperatures to drop below fifteen, you might want to either pull the plant into a toolshed or garage for a night or two, or throw a sheet or blanket over it temporarily for protection.

To grow rosemary indoors, you basically need the same conditions as outside--lots of sun and very well-draining soil.  Directly in a window that gets four hours or more of sun is best.  Allow the soil to dry out fairly well, though not bone dry.  Feed lightly in the spring with any good houseplant fertilizer.

Besides tasting good, rosemary is good for us.  It contains carnosic acid which fights free radical damage and may help with brain and eye health.  Preliminary evidence shows that it may also help prevent brain aging.  I guess that old saying “Rosemary for remembrance” has something to it…
Posted: 12/15/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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