FRESH HERB: Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
PLANT CYCLE: Tender perennial Zones 8 – 10
PROPAGATION: Stem cutting
SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Well drained, pH 6.0-6.5
LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full sun
PARTS USED: Leaves, flowers, and stems
OF HISTORICAL NOTE: Rosemary has long been prized for its stimulating scent and pretty blue flowers. It said that the flowers took on this beautiful hue when the Virgin Mary hung her legendary blue cloak on the branches of a Rosemary bush. The Ancient Greeks believed that wreaths of Rosemary worn on the head would improve the function of the mind. Considered a symbol of friendship and remembrance, Rosemary garlands are often worn at weddings and funerals.
MEDICINAL USES: This versatile antioxidant herb repels insects, relieves flatulence, and eases muscular and nerve pain. It helps ease the itch and dryness associated with eczema and soothes the soreness of arthritis. You can apply a Rosemary poultice or a cloth soaked in a strong Rosemary tea on your cat’s arthritic joints to draw blood from the area and ease the pain. You can also give rosemary tincture internally to help your cat relax, especially after a scary or traumatic experience.
GROWING YOUR OWN: Rosemary prefers full sun and well-drained soil. This herb is tough to start from seed. I recommended propagating rosemary from the stem cuttings (see the box on page 18 for instructions), which should be treated with liquid rooting hormone. Keeping the cuttings moist but not soggy until a strong root structure has formed.
Because rosemary is a tender plant, it must be bought indoors for the winter in climates cooler then Zone 8. I recommend growing rosemary indoors year-round.
Rosemary benefits from a soil “fluffing” each year, which keeps the soil from becoming too tightly packed and preventing air from getting to the roots. Hold the plant gently by the stem at the soil level and carefully tip it out of the pot. Fill a bowl with lukewarm water, and dip the rootball in , gently rinsing off most of the old soil. Fill a new pot (or the old one, if the plant has not outgrown it) with fresh soil that has been dampened. Replant the rosemary, being careful to layer the roots with the fresh soil and spread them out evenly.
HARVESTING AND STORING: Rosemary can be harvested at any time, To keep the plant healthy, don’t take moee than 3 to 4 inches off the end of a branch, and never more than 15 percent of the total plant at any one time. Let the trimmed branch dry, rhen, rub the neddles off the rosemary sprig as you would take needles off a Christmas tree. Store the dried needles in a tightly sealed glass container.
CAUTIONS: Do not give rosemary to pregnant cats.
ROSEMARY WASH FOR BALD PATCHES
Adapted by 10 Herbs for Happy, Healthy Dogs, by Kathleen Brown (Sorey Books 2000)
This recipe is as quixk and easy way to treat abrasions, bites, or any injury that tears the hair away. Rosemary soothes the pain, reduces inflammation, and promotes speedy healing.
2 teaspoons rosemary herb
1 cup water
4 teaspoons witch hazel
TO MAKE: Infuse the rosemary in the water, following the instructions on page 6. Strain, then stir in the witch hazel. Store in the refridgerator, where it will keep for several weeks.
TO USE: Saturate a sterile cottonpad with the liquid, and apply to the affected area. Repeat twice a day until new under way.