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Health Benefits of Rosemary & How To Grow Rosemary in Winter

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Rosemary is a delightful herb that also contains many important health benefits.  As one of my favorite herbs to flavor food, having rosemary around is essential! But living in a very cold wintery climate often makes growing it difficult, but it can be done, and is well worth your effort!

About Rosemary

Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. It is used as a culinary condiment to flavor food, to make perfumes and other cosmetic items, and it is often used for its potential health benefits. Rosemary is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. It is a perennial plant, meaning it’ll live for more than two years.

Rosemary is typically prepared as a whole dried herb or a dried powdered extract, while teas and liquid extracts are made from fresh or dried leaves. The herb has also been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.

Nutritional Information

While rosemary does taste good, it also offers some nutritional benefits as well.  It is also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6.

But, if taken in very high doses, rosemary can cause vomiting, coma, and pulmonary edema.  While extremely rare, it would take a massive amount of the herb to cause any kind of side effects, but it is important to be aware of this.

Possible Health Benefits

Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. It is also thought to improve digestion, enhance memory, and protect against brain damage. Rosemary can also help protect against brain aging and adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents.

How To Prepare an Herb Garden in Winter

Growing Rosemary Indoors, Year-Round

Keeping your rosemary alive indoors over the winter can be tricky, but it also can be done! Unlike the aloe vera plant, rosemary will not thrive under neglect. If you live in a warmer climate, think USDA plant hardiness zones 7-10, you may think it’s easy to keep a rosemary plant alive, and you’d be correct. However, I’m firmly in zone 5, and temperatures can dip to the negative 20s for several days in January and February. Single-digit temperatures are far from uncommon where I live, so I had a few things to learn. But this advice will help those who want to keep a rosemary plant indoors during the winter too!

Rosemary is a native Mediterranean plant, hailing from a region of dry, well-drained soil and hot, sunny temps. Rather than pulling moisture from the soil, it often gets it from the humidity in the air. Knowing this tidbit should help to understand the best way to get a rosemary plant to thrive!

Tip#1 – Choose a pot that fits the plant and increase the size as your herb grows.

Tip #2 – Make sure the pot has a drainage hole and a drainage pan, and use well-drained potting soil. I like to mix organic cactus soil mix with worm castings. Tenth Acre Farms agrees with this, as it appears she uses the same soil in a zone 6 climate.

Tip #3 – In addition to growing your plant in a pot with a drainage hole, you should also add a layer of gravel or small rocks to the drainage pan, so that the pot actually sits on top of the rocks, rather than in the pan. You don’t want the soil to have any contact with the drainage pan, and that is too wet for rosemary.  Remember: rosemary likes moist air and dry roots.

Tip #4 – Put your rosemary near your sunniest window!  This herb loves the sunshine and needs as much as it can get, especially during the winter!

Tip#5 – While your rosemary is indoors, water the soil every two weeks (if the soil is dry), but ALWAYS keep water in the drainage pan with the rocks in it. Because the plant likes to absorb moisture from the air, it will enjoy the water as it evaporates from the pan.

Tip #6 – Fill a spray bottle with water and mist the foliage once or twice a week. This will help mimic the Mediterranean environment rosemary thrives in!

Tenth Acre Farms had an additional tip that is worth sharing! She suggests using a bag if your plant is struggling to thrive indoors where the air is often much drier. You can actually cover the foliage with a plastic bag for a time to hold in more moisture and to reduce the shock of the transition from outdoors to indoors.

These tips should help get your rosemary plant growing and keep you supplied with nutritious and delicious herbs over the winter!  Best of luck, herb lovers!

Do you have a piece of advice to help rosemary lovers? If so, share it with Ready Nutrition readers in the comment section!


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