Growing Rosemary in South Australia
Rosemary is an easy-to-grow, hardy perennial shrub. It originates in the dry, poor soils of the Mediterranean, so it loves the heat of the South Australian summers and thrives on neglect. Rosemary requires very little care and plants live for many years. It does best in a poor soil with very little watering, but if it’s in a bed with other plants, it’ll usually keep growing along quite happily with more water and food than it needs. Oregano, thyme and lavender are great companion plants for rosemary, because they also like a poor, dry soil. Choose a sunny spot with good drainage for it and you’ll have a constant supply of this delicious herb on hand.
Rosemary likes dry, poor soil. Don’t overwater or overfeed it.
Rosemary prefers a poor, slightly alkaline soil. Dig some lime into your soil, but don’t add compost or manure, because they will make the soil too wet and rich. Make sure the soil drains well. If water-logging is a problem in your garden, add some grit or grow your rosemary in pots or a raised bed.
Rosemary is best planted in early spring, this gives the plant a chance to settle in before the heat of summer and the cold of winter. It can be planted successfully at other times of the year, but it’ll need a little more care to protect it from the elements.
Rosemary is very easy to plant. Simply dig your hole, put your plant in and fill with soil. Remember to water in well to help the plant settle and establish quickly.
Rosemary is best propagated from semi ripe or softwood cuttings. Take cuttings of the freshest green growth available. Strip the leaves at the bottom and make a clean cut below a leaf node. Stick the cuttings into a pot of well-draining potting or seedling soil and keep the soil moist until they take root.
Gently prune and shape your rosemary bush in winter to maintain an attractive shape. Rosemary is a perennial, but the bushes do have a lifespan. If they become woody and overgrown, it's hard to get them back to a good shape by pruning and it's usually best to take some cuttings and just replace the old bushes. The dry, woody rosemary bushes burn well and can be used is fires during winter. They burn quickly, but have a lovely aroma.
Rosemary doesn’t like too much water. It thrives in the hot, dry, South Australian summers. If there is a long, dry spell and the plant starts to look thirsty then give it some water. Rosemary can be planted as part of a garden bed and will happily receive water when you water the garden, but it generally does better with a little less water.
Rosemary doesn’t require much feeding, some organic fertilizer once a year should be enough for it.
Rosemary doesn’t need to be mulched. If you do decide to mulch, rather don’t use an organic mulch, because rosemary likes poor soil. Some small pebbles or stones are a good option.
Once your plants are established, you can harvest all year round. Simply cut what you need from the bush using scissors or secateurs. If your plants are still small, then remember to leave enough leaves for the plant to keep photosynthesizing and growing.
Milk spray or baking soda solution work well and can be sprayed on affected plants.
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