Rosemary – characteristics, cultivation and use

rosemary flowers
rosemary flowers

Rosemary is one of the best known and most popular aromatic herbs. With its stimulating effect, it is relatively rare among medicinal plants, so it plays an important role in the treatment of low blood pressure. Morning arm baths in water with rosemary essential oil can do wonders. But otherwise it has a broad spectrum of effects. Garden owners should not renounce it, because it is not only an ornament for the stone or herb garden but also a whole naturopathic pharmacy.

Profile of rosemary:

Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Plant family: mint family (Lamiaceae)

Other names: –

Sowing time / Planting time: March – May, sometimes in September

Flowering period: March – May

Harvest time: May – October

Useful plant parts: leaves

Location: sunny to full sun

Soil quality: dry, rather sandy and nutrient-poor soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: circulatory disorders, depression, irritable bowel, circulation strengthening, skin complaints

Use as aromatic herb: meat dishes, Mediterranean dishes, pasta dishes, sauces, soups, potato dishes, fish

Plant characteristics and classification of rosemary

Origin of rosemary

Rosemary is a typical Mediterranean herb whose area of origin is the Mediterranean. Some sources even mention the region of Dalmatia, which today belongs to the countries of Croatia and Montenegro.

Presence of rosemary

Rosemary today is wild in many Mediterranean countries. Among them the countries of the Iberian peninsula (Portugal, Spain), in Italy and Dalmatia and occasionally in the Black Sea. In Central Europe, the plant can not survive year-round in the field due to its lack of winter hardiness. Except for some winter hardy cultivated forms, which are mostly found in gardens.

Plant order of rosemary

Rosemary is a typical member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and related to other well-known Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, sage or thyme. In science, there is only limited agreement as to how many species belong to the genus Rosmarinus. Some sources report two species, others three. Sure is in addition to the well-known species Rosmarinus officinalis the species Rosmarinus angustifolia (pine rosemary).

Rosmarinus officinalis can still be divided into three different types, which are characterized by the content of some ingredients or their cultivation area. These include the types Cineol (Spain), Camphor (Morocco) and Verbenon (Corsica). In addition, there are some varieties, such as the creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ssp. prostatus). These usually play a subordinate role as an ornamental plant.

Look and characteristics of rosemary


Rosemary is a very eye-catching plant that is botanically considered an evergreen shrub. The perennial reaches in its natural range growth heights up to 2 meters (6.5 ft). The cultured species, however, usually only reach heights of growth between 70 and 100 cm (28 and 40 in). For shrubs, it is typical that the stems grow with age. The plant forms relatively flat and fine roots.


The mostly dark green leaves of rosemary are conspicuously needle-like structured and appear somewhat leathery when touched. This needle shape suggests that rosemary is a perfect plant for dry and warm locations. The leaves also have a variety of oil glands, which secrete the essential oils and thus cool the plant. The underside of the leaves is very finely interspersed with small white hairs that give the herb a further protection from sunlight.


Rosemary is a typical member of the mint family and forms at the flowering time blue, purple, pink or white flowers. In temperate climate, the flowering period is usually between mid-March and late May and in some circumstances may be expected between July to August. In nature, however, the plant flowers often already from October. The flowers are numerous arranged on panicle-like inflorescences. Striking are the two long outstanding stamens.


At the time of fruit ripening form, from the flowers, four brown capsule fruits. The seeds have a bread-like shape and color. At one end there is a white attachment called the elaiosome, which mainly serves the spread by insects like ants.

closer look at rosemary leaves
closer look at rosemary leaves

Rosemary – cultivation and care

Since rosemary can not survive year-round due to the winter months, there are some things to consider when cultivating. Some varieties are slightly winter hardier than the original wild rosemary.


Rosemary is adapted to dry and warm locations. It grows wild in rather barren, sandy, well-drained, calcareous and nutrient-poor soils. Inasmuch as the herb grows in the garden or in pots, it is advisable to always add coarser or mineral substrate in the form of sand, pumice or lava to loamy soils. As an optimal substrate, pumice is suitable because it is able to store water for longer and deliver it to the plant when needed. Pure peat substrates or potting soil should be avoided. Potting soil contains too much nutrients. When using potting soil, add about 40 – 50 percent sand or pimple components to the substrate. With acidic soil substrates, something should also be re-limed.


For the cultivation by seeds usually a preculture in a greenhouse or a seed tray is necessary. The plant needs a germination temperature of around 20 ° C / 68 ° F and therefore needs continuous heat for a period of about three to four weeks. The preculture should at best happen at home on the windowsill. Although rosemary needs light to germ, the seeds should only be pressed slightly into the seed substrate. As a growing substrate mineral substrates or nutrient-poor to nutrient-free potting compost are suitable. From mid to the end of May, the small plants can be transplanted outdoors.


Rosemary usually requires little fertilizer. In each case one fertilization in spring and one in autumn are optimal. Suitable fertilizers are above all organic fertilizers such as compost, horn shavings or pelleted fertilizers. In the summer months, the plant should not be fertilized separately. Here it is more likely to supply the plant in rather mineral substrates with water. Short-term dehydration does not affect the plant. Too much water or waterlogging are to be avoided.


On some websites, it is recommended to take a ready-to-use perennial because growing is difficult. I can not share this experience, it is very easy to bring rosemary to root. Insofar, there is only a little patience for the cultivation necessary, as the plant will take some time to germinate. Specially cultivated rosemary plants, however, are much more aromatic and also more robust than many highly cultivated plants.


You can propagate rosemary by cuttings. For this a stable and aromatic fragrant plant should be chosen. From the main plant, a branch about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) long is cut off and put in a mineral substrate. After planting, the substrate should be watered continuously until the cuttings have formed roots. Sometimes even branches that move across the ground are rooted by itself and can be replanted.


Rosemary can be harvested from the beginning of May until the end of October. In the winter months, the plant should be harvested only a little. The leaves are harvested almost exclusively, which can be dried afterwards.


Although many varieties are touted as hardy, it is recommended to protect rosemary in the winter a little from the cold. The winter-hard varieties can sometimes withstand temperatures down to -20 ° C / -4 ° F. However, permanent frosts also cause stress for these plants. At best, the plant is kept in buckets, so that it can be easily transported to warmer areas at the onset of winter.

Rosemary and its use

The herb is a true all-rounder among the herbs. Not only is it an excellent spice herb, it is also a recognized and effective herb.

Rosemary in the kitchen

Rosemary is a very popular herb and can be used very well for a variety of dishes. It goes well with meat dishes, fish dishes, salads, soups and potato and mushroom dishes. The leaves are especially suitable for many savory dishes.

Rosemary is highly aromatic, tastes slightly bitter and resinous. The taste is comparable to a mixture of camphor and eucalyptus. Both fresh leaves and dried herbs are suitable for food preparation.

A well-known side dish is rosemary potatoes. For this purpose, the potatoes are placed in an oven with oil and salt and sprinkled with chopped rosemary. In addition, other potato dishes such as fried potatoes or farmer’s omelette can be perfectly seasoned with it.

Rosemary is great to combine with many other herbs and spices. It harmonizes with many other Mediterranean herbs. Also, suitable are leeky herbs and spices such as (wild) garlic or onions.

Fresh sprigs can also be made into a high quality herbal oil. Such an oil is particularly suitable for the preparation of marinades or salad dressings. For the production, simply place a sprig of rosemary in a low-aromatic edible oil for about four weeks.

For meat dishes, rosemary should always be used sparingly as it has an intense and aromatic taste. For roast dishes, it is also advisable to simply roast a twig in butter. The flavorings so get easy to the butter and can then be delivered to the other ingredients.

a rosemary plant
a rosemary plant

Rosemary as a medicinal herb

Rosemary was already a very popular herb in ancient times. In the early Middle Ages, the monks were so convinced of the herb that they introduced it to other monasteries. The herb was used against a whole range of complaints. Even today, rosemary is an important medicinal plant. The leaves have a variety of botanical ingredients that allow a wide application in medicine.

Rosemary has a stimulating effect on digestion and circulation, which is why sensitive people should take care to give up using it in the evening. However, the essential oil is ideal for promoting blood circulation or expelling bloating. Attention: too much rosemary can be intoxicating and cause convulsions! You should not take more than 20 drops of essential oil per day, pregnant women use rosemary only sparingly as a spice and not as a remedy.

Rosemary can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing
  • eczema
  • fatigue
  • gout
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • heart failure
  • hemorrhoids
  • indigestion
  • loss of appetite
  • low blood pressure
  • menopausal symptoms
  • migraine
  • nervous circulatory problems
  • nervous heart complaints
  • nervous restlessness
  • neuralgia
  • neuritis
  • promoting menstrual
  • rashes
  • rheumatism
  • sciatica
  • stomach weakness
  • weak menstruation
  • weakness

Medicinal properties

  • analgesic
  • antibacterial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antispasmodic
  • astringent
  • fungicidal
  • relaxing
  • stimulating
  • toning

Rosemary can be used internally as tea, in tea blends and as tincture. The essential oil should be used only externally, because it is very strong and ingested could irritate the stomach.

Cardiovascular agents

Rosemary is one of the few herbs that can boost low blood pressure. This effect against low blood pressure is due to the strengthening of the heart and circulation, so high blood pressure is not even higher. Nervous heart problems and cardiac arrhythmias can also be treated with it.

Digestive system

To strengthen the digestive system and to eliminate bloating you can drink rosemary tea or spice up meals.

Nervous system

To strengthen the nerves, rosemary is particularly well suited. You can also relieve headaches and migraines. For this you can take rosemary internally or use externally and for example, rub the diluted essential oil on the forehead.

Female disorders

Rosemary can cause missed periods bleeding and relieve menstrual cramps. Rosemary can also help against menopausal symptoms.

Attention! You should not use rosemary in pregnancy.

Preparation of rosemary tea

Time needed: 10 minutes

This is how you prepare a rosemary tea by yourself

  1. put a tablespoon of rosemary leaves or a sprig (about 10 cm (4 in), in a tea strainer in a cup

  2. dash with hot water

  3. cover and let steep for 5-10 minutes

  4. if liked you can refine with a fresh pressed orange or lemon or flavor with sugar or maple sirup

This tea raises blood pressure just as much as coffee, and its effects last longer. Tea from these young shoots supports the detoxification of the liver very well.

Body care with rosemary against hair loss

Rosemary is a popular addition to hair tonic and is designed to nourish the scalp and promote hair growth through improved scalp circulation. Due to the antifungal effect of rosemary, it can also be used to treat dandruff.

Prepararation of a rosemary hair tonic

Like the stinging nettle, rosemary stimulates the hair roots. It promotes the circulation of the scalp and stimulates healthy hair growth. In addition, the rosemary hair water moisturizes scalp and hair.

To make the healthy and natural care product yourself, use the following ingredients:

  • 0.5 l / 17 fl oz of water
  • 10 g / 0.35 oz rosemary
  • 10 g / 0.35 oz fresh mint leaves
  • cider vinegar

Preparation and application:

Rinse the fresh mint leaves under cold water and then pour them into a pot. Also, the rosemary is washed under the tap. After washing chop up small and put in the pot. Now dash the herbs with 0.5 l / 17 fl oz of water, put on a lid and bring the mixture to a boil. For the herbs to fully develop their effect, you must let the broth soak for about 20 minutes.

Then pour the liquid through a sieve and collect the rosemary hair tonic. Fill the care product in a bottle and wait until it has cooled completely. Then add a dash of cider vinegar, close the bottle and shake vigorously once, so that the two liquids mix well. Now the hair tonic is ready for use on dry scalp.

For use, take a small amount and massage thoroughly into the scalp. Part your hair so you can drip the DIY hair tonic directly onto the skin. Move the parting a little further until the care product is spread over the whole head.

For preservation, put the bottle with the homemade hair tonic in the refrigerator. Since it contains no substances that contribute to extended shelf life, you should consume it within eight weeks.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy Rosemary – What is there to pay attention to?

Since rosemary is a very popular kitchen herb, it can be purchased almost anywhere. Even supermarkets offer fresh rosemary shrubs. The quality of the shrubs varies greatly from market to market. A good quality offer shrubs that are already slightly woody down below and richly needled. The price per plant is about 2.50 to 15 EUR/$.

Most manufacturers of herbs and spices also offer rosemary as a dried herb. The prices are very different here. When buying, you should check whether it is packaged in an aroma sealed or airtight packaging.

Who would like to use rosemary oil e.g. for the production of their own soaps or cosmetic products or for herbal baths, finds them in selected herb shops or in online trading. Again, the prices vary between 3 EUR and 10 EUR/$ for 10 ml of oil.

For lovers of rosemary bath, some manufacturers offer ready-to-use products that need only be added to the tub. Care should be taken here that natural rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) was actually used and no synthetic alternatives were used. The same applies to sauna oils.

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