Rosemary is a lovely herb to add to your vegetable patch or herb garden. It’s even attractive enough to plant among your ornamental shrubs and flowers if you experience relatively mild winters. Most people grow rosemary for their cooking, but the plant also produces dainty flowers that are absolutely loved by bees and other pollinators.
Rosemary will start to flower in spring and will continue through to early summer. Flowering is encouraged by warm weather and plenty of sunshine. Depending on which variety you grow, rosemary flowers can be either blue, pink, purple, or sometimes even white. Rosemary flowers are tubular and quite small.
Let’s discuss the flowering habits of rosemary and then the different species that produce a variety of different colored flowers.
When Does Rosemary Flower?
Rosemary will generally produce flowers in late spring to early summer. In some parts of the world, where the winters don’t get too cold, rosemary flowers can appear sporadically throughout the year.
The flowers are rich in nectar and are especially loved by bees. That’s why many gardeners will plant some rosemary near their vegetable patch because it helps to attract bees who can also pollinate fruiting vegetable varieties such as squash and cucumbers.
To encourage your rosemary plant to flower, it needs to be growing in full sun in soil that has excellent drainage. Remember that rosemary prefers a fairly hot and dry climate. In fact, your rosemary should be receiving around 8 to 12 hours of sunlight daily if you want an abundance of flowers.
A couple of other important points to note are that you shouldn’t prune your rosemary in winter if you want plenty of flowers, and neither should you apply an abundance of fertilizer rich in nitrogen. Feeding your rosemary a fertilizer high in nitrogen in late winter or early spring will encourage the plant to put on lots of green growth, and this will delay the plant’s flowering.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should never prune your rosemary. In general, regular tip pruning over the growing season in summer and fall is most desirable if you want your plant to produce plenty of flowers. You should also never prune into the woody parts of your rosemary plant.
What Do Rosemary Flowers Look Like?
Rosemary flowers are quite small and tubular at the base. The petals open out at the end of the tube. Most rosemary flowers have five petals. There are two-lobed petals at the top and three-lobed petals that point downward. This arrangement of petals makes it look like the flower has an upper and lower lip.
That’s why rosemary is part of the Labiatae (Lamiaceae) family of plants that also includes mint. Labiatae comes from the Latin word “labia” which means “having lips”.
You’ll find that the flowers will often appear in groups of two on the ends of the upper stems.
The Different Species Of Rosemary And Their Flowers
There are a number of different rosemary species that you can grow, depending on where you live. Most of these plants will have a similar growth pattern, but their flowers vary in color. The appearance of the flowers is similar in all species.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Arp’
This is one of the hardiest rosemary species. It produces a lovely dense shrub with finely textured foliage. The flowers are small and blue, and they appear in whorls around the stems.
This particular species can adapt to a variety of growing conditions and is fairly drought-hardy.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Huntington Carpet’
This species is quite low growing and doesn’t get quite as woody as other species. The plant bears tiny blue flowers from the middle of spring through to early summer. Not only does this variety attract bees, but it’s also popular with butterflies and birds.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Lockwood De Forest’
This rosemary species is ideal for growing as a border plant as it can be densely packed with lavender-blue flowers that grow along the many dense branches. It’s also ideal for growing against stone walls because it will appreciate the extra heat radiated from the stones as they absorb the heat from the sun.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’
As the name would suggest, this is a creeping species of rosemary and is ideal for hanging baskets. It has a somewhat minty fragrance that is very attractive to butterflies. The flowers of this species are borne on upright spikes and are purple-blue in color.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Irene’
This lovely species of rosemary has more of a sprawling habit and is ideal for planting in containers where it can sprawl over the sides. It has small violet-blue flowers that will cover the entire plant.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Salem’
This species is more of an upright grower and produces lovely blue flowers in early spring. In warmer climates, this species can be grown as a hedge.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Spice Islands’
This vigorous grower produces pretty bright blue flowers along the stems in between the narrow leaves. To achieve maximum flower coverage, this species needs to be grown in well-drained soil in an area that is protected from excessive wind.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’
Tuscan Blue is a popular species of rosemary and can grow into quite a tall shrub, up to 6 feet (180 cm) tall. The flowers are a little larger and bright lavender in color. This plant responds well to tip pruning and can easily be shaped into a nice rounded form. Some gardeners have even grown this as a standard.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Miss Jessopp Upright’
This variety grows as a compact, erect shrub. The flowers are light blue and highly fragrant. This is a popular variety to use in cooking and used by professional chefs around the world.
Rosemary ‘Golden Rain’
This bushy and compact species produces lovely blue flowers that are scattered all over the plant. The leaves can be golden in color to begin with, but change to a darker green as the plant matures.
Rosemary ‘Hill Hardy’
If you’re after a rosemary plant that produces white flowers, then this is the one for you. This particular variety is even cold tolerant, so it’s perfect for growing in areas that experience cooler winters.
Rosemary ‘Majorca Pink’
This delightful rosemary cultivar produces gorgeous lavender-pink blooms. The plant can grow quite tall, and the long branches will twist around the plant and then cascade toward the ground. This rosemary plant is particularly frost-sensitive and should be grown in a pot that you can bring inside over winter.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Albiflorus’
This species of rosemary makes a striking landscaping plant with its masses of small white flowers. This plant is low-maintenance and especially good for beginners.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Gold Dust’
This rosemary cultivar is quite unique in that its green leaves are edged with gold. It produces gorgeous deep blue flowers in summer. This particular variety is suitable for growing in semi-shaded spots in your garden.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Haifa’
This species is exceptionally hardy and produces pale blue flowers. This particular plant is native to Europe and North Africa and is popular as a border plant.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Blue Boy’
Blue Boy is a compact rosemary bush that grows no more than 12 inches (30 cm) tall. It’s a lovely dense, upright shrub that produces pastel blue flowers. It’s a slow-growing plant and is both heat and drought-tolerant.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Benenden Blue’
This is another compact shrub that only grows to a height of 12 inches (30 cm). It produces small sky blue flowers in great abundance all over the plant. This particular variety would make an excellent container plant.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Athens Blue Spires’
If your winters get a little cold, but you have very little frost and no snow, this species is likely to survive in your garden as it’s quite vigorous and cold-hardy. It produces lovely lavender-blue flowers.
How Can You Promote Flowering On Your Rosemary Plants
There are basically three things that you can do to encourage your rosemary plant to flower. These are:
- Make sure that the growing environment is fairly warm and dry.
- Ensure that your plant gets plenty of sunlight – at least 8 hours a day.
- Make sure that your rosemary is growing in soil that has really good drainage.
Can You Use Rosemary When It Flowers?
You can use the leaves on your rosemary plant at any time, even when the plant is in full flower. What’s even more beneficial is that you can also eat the flowers themselves.
The flowers have a similar taste to the leaves, except that they’re a little sweeter. Many people also cut a few flowering branches to place inside in a vase, just like cut flowers. They’ll fill your home with their delicious aroma. The flowers themselves can also be used when making your own potpourri.
Before using the rosemary flowers in your dishes, remove the leaf-like green calyx at the base of the flower and only use the petals.
Although all species of rosemary flowers are safe to eat, professional chefs often prefer the flowers from Tuscan Blue, Spice Island, Blue Spires, and Miss Jessup’s Upright to use in their many dishes.
Here are some clever ways you can use rosemary flowers in the kitchen:
- Add a few rosemary flowers to a cooked dish as a finishing herb. You’ll find that the petals will often collapse when exposed to heat, so they’re better used as a garnish.
- Make sure that you scatter a few lovely rosemary flowers over your roast lamb. The flavors of the lamb and the rosemary blend very well together.
- Create sugared flowers by covering the flowers with a mixture of sugar and egg. This will crystallize the flowers, and then they are perfect to use as a garnish on baked cakes, cheesecakes, and muffins.
- Place some rosemary flowers into a tall bottle filled with olive oil to create rosemary-infused oil.
- Make rosemary butter by blending some of the flowers with soft cream cheese or even fresh dairy butter. This makes a lovely and tasty alternative to garlic butter.
- Steep rosemary flowers in hot water to make rosemary-flavored herbal tea.
- Grab some vanilla ice cream, allow it to soften, and blend it with a few rosemary flowers before refreezing. This makes a lovely grown-up dessert and definitely worth a try. Or you can make your own ice cream from scratch by blending thick double cream with brown sugar, vanilla extract, and fresh rosemary flowers.
- Steep some rosemary flowers in apple cider vinegar for around a week to make rosemary-flavored vinegar to use as a salad dressing.
- If you have one of those water bottles that allows you to add fruit for an infusion, consider adding some rosemary flowers as well. These will add a totally different dimension to the taste of the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does rosemary die after flowering?
Rosemary is a woody perennial; therefore, it continues to put on new growth after it flowers. Once the plant finishes flowering, it will produce seeds that you can collect and use to propagate additional plants.
Does flowering change the taste of the leaves?
In general, flowering does not alter the taste of your rosemary leaves, and you can even use the flowers in your cooking.
Is there anything that you should do to your rosemary after it flowers?
After flowering is the perfect time to give your plant an overall trim so that it doesn’t become too lanky or woody. Make sure that you keep your clippings because you can dry these and store them for use later.