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Posted on Sun. Mar. 30, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Turning rosemary bush into tree saves space, add flavor to home

Picture a little rosemary tree at your kitchen window, standing there upright and green as if in defiance to the wintry scene beyond the panes.

This little tree offers more than decoration and winter cheer. Pass your hand lightly over the leaves, close your eyes, and the scent will carry you to a sunbaked Mediterranean hillside, the plant’s native habitat. Snip off a few leaves for cooking, and your tongue will similarly transport you to milder climes.

Grown as a little tree rather than as a sprawling shrub (its natural inclination), a rosemary plant takes up little sill space and is easy to prune. Here’s how to make that tree.

Start with a trunk

Begin with a small rosemary plant, grown from seed or cuttings, or bought.

Even naturally creeping varieties can be coaxed into becoming little trees, but if you have a choice, choose a naturally upright variety such as Majorca Pink or Salem.

Single out one stem to become the future trunk of your plant, completely removing all stems except for this trunk-to-be at the base of the plant.

The most vigorous, upright stem is the obvious candidate. In the case of a creeping variety, just select any healthy stem and stake it upright.

And now the head

Once the trunk reaches full height, your goals change: You now want to create a bushy head. But how high is “full height”? It’s all for show, and what looks good depends on how big a head you are going to give the plant and how big a pot the plant will eventually call home. Generally, a head two to three times the height and just slightly more than the width of the pot looks good.

Ongoing care

Maintain your little tree by repeatedly nipping back the ends of stems, which keeps your plant compact, neat and elegant, and provides plenty of rosemary leaves for flavoring.


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