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Rosmarinus Officinalis: Growing Rosemary for Food and Health

11/23/2010 12:24:45 PM

Tags: Heidi Cardenas, Rosemary, Medicine Cabinet, Tips, Rosmarinus Officinalis, Hair Rinse

H.CardenasHeidi Cardenas is a freelance writer and gardener in Lake County, Illinois, with a background in human resources. She has written about gardening for various online venues and enjoys The Herb Companion’s valuable resources. 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an herbaceous perennial plant related to mint. It is used for culinary, medicinal and personal care products. It has straight, pointed green leaves that grow on long branches. The plant’s leaves are very aromatic, releasing a strong pine scent when touched, cut or crushed. Depending on the variety, rosemary grows anywhere from 3 feet to 8 feet high with upright branches that grow from a central base and produce tiny blue, pink or white flowers. Usually grown as a potted herb, rosemary will grow as large as your pot allows.

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Potted rosemary will grow as large as you allow it; 
it is kept small and bushy by clipping the tips.
Photo by Heidi Cardenas
 

Rosemary needs well-drained soil to grow well. Sand and finely crushed gravel should be added to the garden soil where rosemary is planted. In areas where the soil freezes in winter, rosemary will not survive and should be either dug up and brought indoors or transplanted to a winter shelter, such as a cold frame or a greenhouse.
  
Rosemary has been used since ancient times to season foods, to make personal hygiene products, in religious traditions and for protection from evil. Sprigs of dried rosemary were burned to clear spaces of negativity, evil spirits and illness. Fresh rosemary sprigs were placed in pillows to encourage good dreams and ward off nightmares. Rosemary crowns were worn in the spring and fall during festivities. It was used as a strewing herb to repel fleas, lice and other vermin in homes. Today, chopped fresh or dried rosemary is sprinkled or rubbed on meats, added to stews and soups and used to flavor herb breads. Dried rosemary sprigs are attractive additions to dried flower arrangements and herbal wreaths and braids. Rosemary is used in many herbal preparations such as salves, creams and rinses. One simple preparation that I particularly like is rosemary water hair rinse.

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Rosemary steeped in filtered or distilled water, or boiled in water,
is a pleasant hair rinse to use after shampooing.
Photo by Heidi Cardenas
 

Steep a couple of sprigs of freshly cut rosemary in filtered or distilled water for a couple of days, or boil them in water, add an equal amount of clear water and use it to rinse your hair after shampooing for a fresh, clean, natural shine. Boiled dried rosemary can substitute to make this hair rinse. A stronger preparation from fresh rosemary sprigs makes a good disinfectant.

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Rosemary has long, pointy leaves that grow from its branches.
Photo by Heidi Cardenas
 

To make a natural, pine-scented disinfectant spray chop up fresh rosemary, add it to boiling water for about 3 minutes, strain, and put into a spray bottle. Use it in your kitchen and bathroom.

Rosemary is a sturdy, fragrant herb to grow in the garden or indoors for many uses, including culinary, hygiene, cleaning and even topiary. It’s readily available at garden centers, nurseries and grocery stores; it's an easy herb to grow and use year round indoors and out. 



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