Rosemary is a magnificent fragrant herb that is native to the Mediterranean. During the Middle Ages, rosemary was used as a love charm. While most of us enjoy the aroma of fresh rosemary, today most people grow it for its culinary uses and ornamental qualities. There are several easy to care for varieties in this family of Lamiaceae, one of which is the creeping or prostrate rosemary plant (Rosmarinus officinalis “Prostratus”). So, what is creeping rosemary, and is prostrate rosemary suitable for your landscape?
Prostrate rosemary in the landscape is an easy to care for creeping perennial herb suitable for the herb garden, perennial beds, containers, and rockeries. A low growing herbaceous shrub, prostrate rosemary plants can be grown throughout USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. The plant only grows to a height of about 2 inches to 1 foot tall (5-30 cm.) and will spread 4 to 8 feet (1-2 m.) if left unchecked.
The best time to plant prostrate rosemary is in the fall. Plant your creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’) in full sun to part shade in well draining soil, although it will do well in almost any type of soil so long as it is not allowed to become sodden.
You will be rewarded with an aromatic evergreen with gray green leaves reminiscent of pine needles and attractive light purple flowers.
Prostrate rosemary plants can be purchased at the local nursery and may also be found under the names Blue Agave, American Aloe or Maguey. Conversely, you can propagate rosemary by clipping 2 inches (5 cm.) of soft, new growth. Remove the lower inch of leaves, dip in rooting hormone and then place the start in damp, sterile seed mix.
Place the new plant in indirect sunlight in a warm area and mist daily. Roots should begin to form after about two to three weeks, at which time you can transplant into pots to continue to grow. After three months, the rosemary is big enough to transplant outdoors in a full sun exposure, four to six hours per day.
Trim any extra long or damaged branches on the rosemary. Dig a hole a couple inches deeper than the root ball of the herb. Mix 2 to 4 inches (2.5-10 cm.) of shredded bark or gravel into the soil to provide better drainage. Plant the rosemary and back fill the hole. Water the plant in, taking care not to drown it. Additional plant should be space 24 to 36 inches (60-90 cm.) apart in the garden.
The care of trailing rosemary is quite simple. Water, but don’t drown the plant. Remember, rosemary is used to dry conditions.
Fertilize rosemary with 1 ½ tablespoons (22 mL.) of slow release 10-10-10 fertilizer around the base of the plant and work in lightly with a hand cultivator. Follow up with some water to activate the fertilizer.
Not only is prostrate rosemary a no-fuss herb, it is also drought tolerant and primarily pest resistant. That said, keep weeds away from around the base of the rosemary. Spittle bugs, the one pest rosemary doesn’t seem to be resistant to, may use the weeds as living quarters while they snack on your rosemary. A spray from the hose may be enough to wash them off.
A half inch (1 cm.) layer of white sand around the rosemary’s base will also reduce weed growth and decrease the possibility of root rot.
Your new rosemary herb can be used either fresh or dry with foods such as roasted potatoes, lamb, pork, fish and poultry dishes and veggies. You can also throw some on the grill when barbecuing to impart a lovely flavor or even use mature woody stems as skewers over the grill.
Wads of spit on your rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) mean one thing, spittlebugs. Though generally pest and disease resistant, this pungent culinary herb has a few enemies in the garden. Prevent problems with good plant placement and eliminate early infestations with regular inspections and treatments. Rosemary grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10.
Creeping Rosemary is one of the most popular and best-loved plants in Pacific Coast gardens. This is because, besides its personal charm, it has culinary virtues and many garden uses. Rosmarinus officinalis prostratus, together with its various forms, is native to Mediterranean countries where the climate is somewhat similar to that of California. These will grow in most exposures and most soils as long as they have sun and good drainage. They are not quite as hardy as the tall type and in the Northwest should be given warm, protected places.
Once you have creeping rosemary, it is yours forever, for a contented plant increases by layers and sows itself. lf you use layers, take the young, well rooted ones, for flat, old branches that have established themselves are harder to move. The propagation of a seedling hybrid with special qualities must be done by cuttings of half-ripened tips.
The common trailing rosemary soon breaks bounds and smothers neighboring plants. Think carefully before you place it and make allowance for its billowing exuberance, because if the edges are lopped off, most of the plant’s charm is lost. It is grand on a bank, in the large rock garden, beside wide steps (not too close) and for breaking the stiffness of taller bushes.
There is nothing stiff about this “dew of the sea,” which is what its name means. There is grace in each of its curving evergreen branches, and the easy color of the flowers and the short narrow fragrant leaves, green on top and grey beneath, make the plant a good mixer.
Water and warmth affect the time of bloom. Here in California the mild Fog Belt, flowering begins in December, reaches its peak in January and February and carries through until May. In late winter every arching twig is smothered in pale blue. When the plants are watered, a second but less heavy period of bloom comes from August into September.
In Southern California, and inland, bloom may not be as profuse or as prolonged, though there is always the fragrance and the graceful outline of this low wildly spreading bush to recommend its use. As the plant moves downward and not upward, plant it high on a bank or beside the steps, and if there is some erosion from above, creeping rosemary, you will find, is not adverse to a bit of smothering.
Unless you want your plants to mound up, cut out the taller central branches. Some of these older boughs are likely to turn yellow, when drainage is not good, but young green shoots will soon fill the gap. Old branches that get in the way can be used in the house. When cut and defoliated, the gray bark and the curved line of the branches show up quite ornamentally.
Rosemary is always found in herb gardens and herb nurseries. The plant has legendary interest and has long been used to make rosemary oil and as a perfume.
"Prostratus" is an evergreen perennial and a versatile culinary herb. Keeping a lower profile than upright rosemary, it grows 1 to 2 feet tall and 3 to 8 feet wide. It can trail on planters, window boxes or over walls, offering cascades of greenery and tiny flowers. This creeping rosemary displays dainty lavender-blue flowers and green leaves. Its leaves emit a mild pinelike fragrance. Use it fresh or dried to compliment meat, poultry and savory vegetable dishes. Only eat fresh rosemary you have grown or that you know has not been sprayed with chemicals.
Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.
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Grown for its aromatic evergreen leaves and unusual flowers, rosemary is regarded as an essential culinary and medicinal herb, with an invigorating flavour. It makes a handsome specimen plant in any garden, especially when covered with flowers that attract bees and butterflies. It’s also a welcome addition to any herb garden.
Rosmarinus offinalis ‘Prostratus’ is a useful, low growing rosemary, which is less susceptible to wind damage than taller plants. It is also ideal for growing in pots and containers. Grow in well-drained soil in full sun. To keep plants in shape, trim after flowering.
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus'.
This aromatic herb, among our rosemary herb plants, is an essential feature of your herb gardening this season. As a creeping rosemary, it is perfect for pots and containers. Rosemary plants are a sturdy and reliable herb.
They say if there is a rosemary bush in the garden there is a strong woman in the house. 'Prostratus' Rosemary is a ground-cover rosemary, perfect for gardens or containers. Its rich foliage and beautiful blue flowers are wonderful in the kitchen and the bath. This aromatic herb is supposed to be the most fragrant of all the creeping Rosemarys.
Plant this rosemary to hang over a wall for a striking effect. Or, pot it up in one of our decorative pots or containers with Lemon Balm for a deliciously fresh and fragrant combination. Since this is a tender perennial, bring the whole pot in during the winter to enjoy this culinary herb year round!
Light : Rosemary loves tons and tons of sunshine.
Water : Rosemary can withstand some drought. Water when soil is dry to the touch, but never over-water. Rosemary does not like soggy over-watered environments.
Soil : If planted in the ground, make sure your soil is well-draining. I usually dig a deep hole, fill a bit with rocks or gravel, then plant rosemary on top to ensure adequate drainage. If you are container planting, be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes on the bottom. Clay pots are even better, to keep that soil dry.
Use : Rosemary is a wonderful culinary herb, popularly flavoring lamb, venison, poultry, and potato dishes.
Extras : Every year around Christmastime, I think to myself "what makes poinsettias so Christmasy?" I choose todecorate my house during the holidays with big established rosemary pots. What better way to get in the mood for the warm culinary delights of holiday meals?