Rosemary Varieties

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rosemary in pot

A half-hardy perennial herb that's used in cooking and landscaping, rosemary varieties can fill a number of landscaping needs. The two main rosemary types are upright and creeping.

Upright vs Creeping Rosemary Varieties

The type of rosemary variety you select depends on how you intend to use it. If you wish a culinary rosemary, then an upright variety will provide you with great culinary flavoring. A creeping rosemary variety is a good choice for various aromatic and visually appealing landscaping designs. It can also be used for flavoring in baking and cooking.

Upright Rosemary Varieties

Although upright rosemary varieties are often used for hedges and borders, these varieties have cherished aromatic properties. These varieties can grow between three to five feet in height with some varieties capable of reaching 12' high. Upright rosemary plants provide the most potent flavoring due to the sap known as black gold.

Tuscan or Tuscan Blue

The Tuscan or Tuscan Blue rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a popular hedge choice in Tuscany with its pale blue-green leaves. It's planted along the borders of fields as hedges. It's a highly prized culinary rosemary cultivar.

  • Height: 4' to 6'
  • Spread: 4' to 5'
  • Flowers: Spikes of dark blue
  • Hardiness Zones: 8 to 11

White Rosemary

White rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis albiflorus) is a standout in the landscape for its upright bushy spread. Its strong fragrance makes it a favorite of bees and a good culinary choice. Use as a hedge, border plant or in herb gardens.

  • Height: 3' to 4'
  • Spread: 3' to 4'
  • Flowers: Brilliant white flowers (winter through late spring)
  • Zones: 8 to 11

Pine Scented Rosemary

Pine scented rosemary (Rosmarinus angustifolius) is a popular flavorful culinary herb choice. This rosemary has distinguishable pine scent with pale blue-green leaves with a feather-like appearance. The leaves are thinner and softer than typical rosemary and a chef favorite choice. Use as a border planting or herb garden.

  • Height: 3' to 4' high
  • Spread: 4' to 6' wide
  • Flowers: Small blue
  • Zones: 8 to 11

Golden Rosemary

Golden rosemary or Golden Rain (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Joyce de Baggio') provides a gold to the deep green leaf color. There are a number of cultivars that produce bright yellow to deep gold foliage that either stays true or deepens as the days get longer in the summer. Some varieties turn green in the summer. Use along a garden border or herb garden.

  • Height: 2' to 3'
  • Spread: 3'
  • Flowers: Pale blue (summer)
  • Hardiness Zones: 7 to 11

Madeline Hill Rosemary

Madeline Hill rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Madeline Hill') is winter hardy. This cultivar over winters in Zone 6 and possibly Zone 5 in sheltered areas. It's often advertised rated for -15°. This is a very fragrant choice with deep green leaves. Use as a hedge, border or herb garden.

  • Height: Average 3' or higher
  • Spread: 3'
  • Flowers: Light blue (summer)
  • Hardiness Zones: 6 to 11

Arp Rosemary

Arp rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Arp') has gray-green leaves and is one of the easiest to grow cultivars. It's often a first-timer choice. This rosemary variety is one of the most fragrant rosemaries and a favorite of chefs. Use as a hedge, border or herb garden.

  • Height: 3' to 4'
  • Spread: 4'
  • Flowers: Light blue (spring)
  • Hardiness Zones: 6-10

Blue Boy

Blue Boy rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Blue Boy') is considered a dwarf or miniature cultivar that is a popular choice for containers and pots. It can be used as a low border plant or an indoor windowsill herb container. It's a convenient indoor herb for cooking.

  • Height: 6" to 8"
  • Spread: 15" to 18"
  • Flowers: Small light blue (mid- to late spring)
  • Hardiness Zones: 8 to 10

Creeping Rosemary Varieties

The creeping rosemary varieties are great to as ground covers since they choke out all weeds and provide an aromatic carpeting. You can use these varieties to trail over rock walls or cascade from window boxes.

Trailing Rosemary

Of the creeping rosemary varieties, none makes a more impressive display than trailing or creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus' ).You can use this cultivar in a window box or pot that provides an area for the plant to cascade. A waterfall effect over a wall or fence is a great landscaping addition.

  • Height: 1' to 2'
  • Spread: 2' to 3'
  • Flowers: Pale blue flower clusters (spring and summer)
  • Hardiness Zones: 8 to 11

Huntington Carpet

The Huntington Carpet cultivar (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Huntington Carpet') is a popular choice since it has a dense center with very little dieback. Unlike most rosemary cultivars, Huntington Carpet isn't very woody. With dark green leaves, it makes a great choice for walls, banks, rock gardens, window boxes, and containers/pots.

  • Height: 1' to 2'
  • Spread: 6' to 8'
  • Flowers: Small blue clusters (four seasons)
  • Hardiness Zones: 7 to 10

Irene

Irene rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Renzels' (Pat. # 9124) Irene®) was first discovered by Philip Johnson, a garden designer, in a client's garden, when he observed how the cultivar was a spontaneous hybrid seedling. It's valued as a reliable groundcover. You can use this in erosion areas, such as banks or steep declines, and cascading over rock walls.

  • Height: 1' to 2'
  • Spread: 4' to 5'
  • Flowers: Blue-violet (December to March)
  • Hardiness Zones: 6 to 10

Rosemary Cultivar Soil Requirements

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb and drought tolerant. These rosemary varieties require a soil that drains wells. This can be a sandy soil such as a mixture of loam and sand that can be amended with compost.

Alkaline Soil

Rosemary prefers alkaline soils with a pH 7 to pH 8.5. However, some cultivars can survive in slightly acidic soils with a pH 6.0 to pH 6.5. A pH 6.5 and pH 7.0 is a good mid-range.

Rosemary Sun and Water Needs

Your plant(s) require a minimum of six hours of sunlight. The more sun, the better. Don't over water since rosemary doesn't have wet feet and can easily develop root rot. A good rule of thumb is to water generously every one or two weeks, depending on rain conditions. The soil should be allowed to dry out between watering.

Rosemary Varieties Landscaping and Culinary Versatility

Rosemary is a multi-functional herb. It can be grown for culinary purposes while serving as a beautiful hedge or border in your garden. If you need a weed killing groundcover, rosemary offers a beautiful fragrant option that can also add dimension to a garden wall or bank.

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Rosemary Varieties