Rosemary Is Ready To Show Off

Fall starts the blooming season for rosemary. This blooming stem was photographed the first week in October.

Rosemary types vary from the classic upright type shown here, to the prostrate types that contrast with these upright ones.

This is a five year old potted prostrate rosemary that was planted from a 4 inch pot.

Birmingham makes a good home for rosemary these days. When I first came to town over 40 years ago, I was wary it would survive our cold. Today, I have consistently had it in my garden for many years and consider it not only a great woody herb, but an excellent landscape plant. Planted in a well drained location that can be watered in dry periods, it will thrive. While full sun is preferred, some daily shade for a few hours is fine. The upright types are common for hedges and the ones that are specimens in herb gardens. My favorite types are the prostrate and trailing types. As you can see, the one in the container creates a unique look. Oftentimes, especially in spaces where low shrubs are needed, the various types can be selected from sizes that get less than a foot tall to up to three feet tall. Always buy rosemary by named selections, so the care card will tell you the height of the plant you bought. As for care, if the soil is neutral or slightly alkaline they will thrive with light fertilization and adequate water. If you have fertile, slightly acid soil, liming them yearly is very helpful. Remember if the plants dry out, you can “kiss them goodbye.” As with most herbs, prune them to keep their shape, or if you need some for cooking.

P.S. Don’t forget the fall plant sale at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens October 21 and 22. There should be rosemary available for sale.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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