The unmistakable sight and fragrance of Tuscan Blue Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue') evoke images of the sunny Mediterranean. Although the Mediterranean is a long journey from where you live, you'll only have to travel as far as your backyard to experience a glimpse of that faraway destination when you grow Tuscan Blue Rosemary. Reserve a spot in your garden for this outstanding plant, and you'll savor one of the sights of a Mediterranean vacation in your own little corner of the world.
A Rosemary with Improved Attributes
Whether you admire Tuscan Blue Rosemary from a distance or up close, its aesthetic qualities are impossible to miss. Other than its distinctive fragrance, other outstanding qualities include:
• Grayish-green foliage. The word rosemary is loosely translated "dew of the sea" to describe how ocean mists glisten on this plant's foliage. Other garden plants sport different shades of green, but none is quite like the grayish-green foliage of Tuscan Blue Rosemary. It shimmers in the landscape to enliven any sunny spot. And it's the fragrance of the foliage that is so distinctive instead of the scent of its flowers.
• Brilliant-blue flowers. The flower color mirrors the color of the clear-blue sea that borders this plant's namesake '– the Tuscany region in Italy. From late winter through spring, Tuscan Blue Rosemary produces its showy blue flowers that are deeper in color and more profuse than other types of rosemary plants.
• Sturdy upright growth. Some varieties of rosemary tend to sprawl as they mature, but Tuscan Blue Rosemary is an improved cultivar that was bred to maintain a strong upright growing habit.
A Tall Classic
Tuscan Blue Rosemary is actually an evergreen shrub that grows as a perennial in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7b-11. If you live outside this hardiness range, you can still enjoy this irresistible plant year-round by growing it as a container plant that you simply move indoors during the winter to a sunny spot. If you're within its hardiness range, you'll be fortunate enough to cultivate one of the tallest rosemary varieties '– its height can reach 6 feet in the landscape! Tuscan Blue Rosemary's foliage is densely packed, with soft, needle-like leaves growing along woody stems. And those flowers '– oh those stunning flowers! Although individual blooms are small, the long stems are covered with deep-blue blossoms, which put on quite a show in springtime.
Put Out the Welcome Mat for Pollinators
When Tuscan Blue Rosemary is in full bloom, it's one of the most effective pollinator plants you can grow. Pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, are so essential to the environment. Their important responsibility is to fertilize flowers by transporting pollen to them. Pollinators are responsible not only for increasing the number of flowers that many ornamental plants produce, but also for helping certain vegetable plants to produce a more abundant harvest. Pollinators are highly susceptible to being injured or killed from pesticides, but Tuscan Blue Rosemary is naturally pest-resistant, which means it stays pesticide-free to welcome the pollinators without causing harm to them. You'll also be amazed at the number of hummingbirds that flit from flower to flower on Tuscan Blue Rosemary '– an incredible show during bloom time!
A Multi-Tasking Plant
Is Tuscan Blue Rosemary an herb? Is it a landscape shrub? Or is it a potted plant? Yes, yes, yes '– to all three! It's undoubtedly a quintessential herb for any culinary garden, but you'll want to plant it as an evergreen shrub, regardless of whether you have an herb garden. Its color, texture, and form all wrapped up in one package provide a complementary look to your other landscape plants, which is quite an accomplishment for one plant! If you need to fill in a bare spot in your sunny landscape design, Tuscan Blue Rosemary is a lovely specimen plant. As a foundation plant, its root system will not damage structures. Multiple plants spaced along your property line will grow into a hedge that can be left to grow naturally, or you can shear it into a formal shape. Tuscan Blue Rosemary flourishes in containers, because it loves the sharp drainage that pots provide. And if your green thumb also has an artistic flair, you can clip Tuscan Blue Rosemary into a topiary shape or even grow it as a bonsai plant!
The Crowning Touch for Your Herb Garden
An herb garden is simply not complete without a rosemary plant, and Tuscan Blue Rosemary forms the perfect backdrop for lower-growing herbs in front. For an artistic herb-garden design, you can feature Tuscan Blue Rosemary as the central focal point in a circular herb garden that has other herbs radiating out like spokes from the center. Just allow for its mature height when planting other herbs to make sure Tuscan Blue Rosemary doesn't shade them from the sun, which most herbs need. If you don't have an herb garden, but you've wanted to start one, Tuscan Blue Rosemary should be your starter plant, and then you can design around it by adding other herbs.
There's something so satisfying about harvesting fresh herbs from your own garden! Far superior to the dried herbs that you purchase at your local supermarket, fresh herbs infuse intense flavor to your favorite dishes because they retain all their volatile oils during the short trip from your garden to your kitchen. Tuscan Blue Rosemary is particularly suited for seasoning a pork loin, beef roast, or leg-of-lamb. As a member of the aromatic mint plant family, Tuscan Blue Rosemary is equally valuable in hearty soups and stews. And if you're planning a BBQ, soak freshly harvested rosemary stems in water before using them to skewer your meat or veggie kabobs. The stems will infuse your food from the inside out during grilling!
No Muss, No Fuss
Tuscan Blue Rosemary requires virtually no maintenance. It needs infrequent watering, little to no fertilizer, no pruning, and no spraying for pests. In fact, it's best to leave your plants alone '– after they've become established in your garden '– because if you fuss over them too much, you can "kill them with kindness!" You can always prune, shear, trim, or shape your Tuscan Blue Rosemary to suit your preference, but that's optional. There's no pruning required to keep it growing and flowering.
Tuscan Blue Rosemary does have an imposing mature height '– up to 6 feet '– but if you grow it in a pot, its growth will naturally be restricted by the size of the container. A striking design option for your garden is to plant Tuscan Blue Rosemary in a large barrel-type planter. This type of planter adds a rustic look (from the barrel) paired with the exotic look of a Mediterranean garden (from the plant). You can create an entirely different design statement by planting Tuscan Blue Rosemary in an elegant urn or other exquisite pot. Picture a stately courtyard garden that has a potted plant as its grand centerpiece '– you can duplicate this same look by designing your own formal garden!
Tolerance and Resistance Thresholds
Because Tuscan Blue Rosemary is native to the arid climates of Mediterranean regions, it's well-adapted as a drought-tolerant plant. Keep new plants lightly watered until their roots have taken hold and the plants are established, and then you'll have to water only during periods of drought. It's also heat-tolerant, never wilting during hot summers. Native to seaside locations in the Mediterranean, Tuscan Blue Rosemary is salt-tolerant. Its adaptation to salt spray is a plus for gardeners who live in U.S. coastal regions. And not only is Tuscan Blue Rosemary resistant to insect pests, it's also disease-resistant. If you live in a rural area where deer cause browsing damage to your plants, Tuscan Blue Rosemary is deer-resistant, too!
A Thoughtful Gift
Rosemary has a longstanding history in the "language of plants" as being associated with "remembrance." A thoughtful gesture to anyone on your gift list is giving Tuscan Blue Rosemary with a card that expresses your sentiment of remembering something. You can express your remembrance of a loved one who has passed as you gift a family member; or cite a special remembrance to a friend from your ongoing friendship; or share your remembrance of someone's thoughtfulness toward you by making a gift of Tuscan Blue Rosemary.
Easy (and Few) Planting and Growing Tips
You won't have to be a horticulturist to grow Tuscan Blue Rosemary. It requires minimal care, but its few needs are noteworthy and necessary to maintain its health:
• Full sun. It just won't perform well in the shade, and the more sun, the better.
• Sharp drainage. Planting on slopes, in raised beds, or in containers offers Tuscan Blue Rosemary an optimal environment to stave off "wet feet" '– roots that stay in waterlogged soil. This is not a plant for moist soil or overwatering, which are two conditions that can cause its roots to rot.
• Loose soil. This is another key contributor to Tuscan Blue Rosemary's health. It prospers in soil that is not compacted, such as loamy or sandy soils. It also has a high tolerance for poor soil, such as you find in rock gardens, as long as the soil is loose.
• Minimal fertilizer. Tuscan Blue Rosemary has low fertilization needs. Apply a light application of fertilizer at the beginning of the active growing season or just after flowering, but don't get heavy-handed with the fertilizer. This is an example of "less is more."
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