Rosemary is an evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. It can grow anywhere in the world. It is used in cooking. Rosemary essential oil is used in cosmetic and medicinal products.
It can be grown in pots, greenhouses, gardens and farms.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at growing rosemary for use at home and also cultivating rosemary for profit. We will also cover harvesting, processing and packaging
Some facts about rosemary
- Rosemary belongs to the mint family alongside oregano, lavender, basil, thyme and marjoram. Below are some facts about rosemary
- Rosemary can grow up to 3 metres
- Rosemary small bluish-purple flowers
- Rosemary is a perennial plant. It lives for more than 2 years
- Rosemary can be harmful when taken in large doses
- Rosemary preserves most of its flavour and nutrients when dried
History of rosemary
This aromatic herb derives its name from the Latin word Rosmarinus, meaning “mist of the sea”. It has been growing for ages in the world around the Mediterranean coast.
In ancient Greece, it was believed to have magical properties that could strengthen memory. It was scattered around the grave of a loved one, to send a message that the deceased will never be forgotten. Between the 1400s and 1600s, rosemary was used as a symbol of fidelity, love and friendship where brides would give it groom during the wedding ceremony. Brides would also wear rosemary wreaths to their wedding.
Rich couples would give each wedding guest a rosemary twig.
In traditional medicine, rosemary was used for toothaches, headaches, gas relief and baldness. In 1987, researchers at a university in New Jersey were able to derive a food preservative known as rosmaridiphenol from rosemary. The preservative is a stable antioxidant used in cosmetics and food packaging. Rosemary was named the herb of the year in 2000 by the international herbs association
“Let this Rosemarinus, this flower of men, ensigne of your wisdom, love and loyaltie, be carried not only in your hands, but in your heads and hearts.” – English poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Benefits of rosemary
The benefits of rosemary are derived from its component oils. These are categorized into phenolic acid derivatives, and phenolic diterpenes like 1,8-cineole, α-pinene, camphene, α-terpineol, and borneol. Phenolic acid derivatives include rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid. Phenolic diterpenes include carnosol.
- Rosemary boosts memory and improves brain function.
- Rosemary helps in stress relief and improves mood.
– It protects to brain from oxidative stress and excess stimulation
- Rosemary helps in boosting immunity.
- Rosemary improves digestion, relieves gas and soothes the stomach.
- Rosemary freshens breath.
- Rosemary Stimulates blood flow.
- Rosemary acts as a pain reliever.
- Rosemary has anti-ageing properties
– This helps in slowing down skin ageing.
- Rosemary helps in detoxifying the body.
- Rosemary has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
- Rosemary helps in hair growth.
- Rosemary helps in limiting weight gain.
- Rosemary adds flavour to food, especially meats.
- Rosemary plant acts as a mosquito and vermin repellant
How to grow rosemary at home
- How to grow rosemary in containers
It is extremely hard to grow rosemary from seeds. Cuttings are the preferred method. For home use, it is recommended to buy seedling from nurseries. It sells for between 20 KES to 50 KES ($0.2 to $0.5), depending on the location. If you would like to grow your own seedlings from cuttings, please see the section on “propagating rosemary” under “How to grow rosemary for profit”
Growing rosemary in pots is rather straightforward. It requires a wide pot of at least 12 inches in diameter. This ensures that the roots have enough space to spread. Otherwise, the plant will be stunted. Clay pots are the best, but you can use any type of container
Rosemary does not do well in waterlogged conditions. The soil you use must be well draining and the pot must have drainage holes to make sure water flows out of the pot. If the roots are waterlogged, they will rot, in turn killing the plant.
Rosemary grows well in full sun. Place the plant in your compound outside or patio/balcony where it can get maximum exposure to the sun.
Rosemary in pots should be watered well, but only when the soil is dry. To test, put your finger into the soil. If the top 1-2 inches are dry, then it is time to water your rosemary. It is recommended to let the soil dry completely in between each watering.
Rosemary seldom requires fertilization, but if the plant is turning yellow or is stunted, apply well-decomposed animal manure to give it the required nutrients. Alternatively, you can use commercial fertilizers.
When cutting rosemary twigs and leaves, make sure you cut the green young shoots and not the woody part. Give it enough time to sprout new fresh shoots. You can store the shoots in the refrigerator for 2-7 days. If you want them to last longer, hang them to dry in shade. When completely dry, you can store the leaves in airtight containers.
- Gardening and Landscaping using rosemary
In addition to its culinary and medical benefits, rosemary can be used to add texture, colour, form and aroma to your garden. The tall varieties can be at the borders and short varieties used near walls and for creating green walls. This all-season herb can be shaped to fit into the design of your garden.
It attracts birds, bees and butterflies during the flowering season, creating a well-balanced natural ecosystem. These insects and birds help in pollination.
- Rosemary hedge
Rosemary can be used as a hedge plant to define the perimeters of outdoor rooms. It is an excellent plant to define farm boundaries.
Given the repellant properties of rosemary, it can be planted alongside your vegetables to repel harmful pests in your organic garden.
Growing Rosemary for commercial purposes
The Market for Rosemary
According to Future Markets Insight, the global market for rosemary is expected to grow to USD 1000 million by 2027. This growth is driven by the growing consumer inclination towards aromatherapy and preservatives, increasing rosemary extract demand in the nutraceutical (health supplements) industry, increasing use of rosemary in pet food and the growing personal care industry.
Rosemary demand in the food industry includes application areas such as dairy products, bread, pastries, cakes, biscuits, sauces, dressings, and condiments. In the drinks industry, rosemary is being highly used in ready-to-drink teas and other drinks. In the personal care industry, rosemary demand is being driven by the increasing use in skincare, haircare, and perfumes. Rosemary extracts are being used in both modern medicine and traditional healing such as Ayurveda.
Rosemary can be sold fresh, direct to the consumer, or in dried powder form. The rosemary farmer can opt for rosemary value addition in packaging dried rosemary, blending rosemary with other herbs and also extracting rosemary essential oil.
Different Rosemary Varieties
Rosemary cultivars or varieties are divided into two major categories:
1. Upright Rosemary cultivars
2. Creeping rosemary cultivars
Upright rosemary cultivars, as the name, suggests growing upright, with some growing tall while others remain short.
Creeping rosemary varieties crawl along the ground as they grow, acting as ground cover They do not grow upright.
Upright Rosemary cultivars
– Collingwood Ingram/Ingramii/Benenden Blue
– Ken Taylor
– Tuscan Blue
– Blue Spires
– Miss Jessup’s Upright
– Golden Rain
– Majorca Pink/Spanish
– Portuguese Pink // Portuguese Red
– White-flowered rosemary (R. officinalis “Albus”)
– Lady in White / Nancy Howard
– Hill Hardy
– Tuscan Blue
– Pine scented rosemary
– Blue boy
– Spice island
– common rosemary
Creeping rosemary cultivars
– Prostratus (prostrate rosemary)
– Huntington Carpet Rosemary
– Irene Rosemary
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How to grow rosemary for profit
- Yield per acre
- Ideal growing conditions
- Propagating rosemary from cuttings
- Number of plants per acre
- Water and nutrient requirements
- best practices
Adding value to rosemary for more profit
- Extracting rosemary essential oil
- Drying and packaging rosemary
- Packaging dried rosemary leaves and essential oil