How to Use Rosemary in Your Home and Chicken Coop

Rosemary uses are as varied as its varieties from the kitchen, throughout the house and even to the chicken coop. A native of the Mediterranean, Portugal and northwestern Spain, the name rosemary means "sea-dew" since its blossoms have a dew-like appearance. Known for remembrance, rosemary is certainly a hard-to-forget herb!

Rosemary uses are as varied as its varieties from the kitchen, throughout the house and even to the chicken coop.

Rosemary Uses 

Repelling Insects — Rosemary's insect-repelling qualities have been well-established through the centuries. In Bancke's Herbal from 1525, he states "Take the flowers and put them in thy chest among thy clothes or among thy Bookes and Mothes shall not destroy them."

Repelling Germs — Rosemary oil has antibacterial properties. Rosemary was one burnt in homes to keep away the black death and in French hospitals during World War II to kill germs.

• In the home, rosemary can be used in a simmering pot of potpourri on the stove to release oils. You can easily combine rosemary with other herbs and scents according to preference and the season. Examples include juniper berries, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, lavender, orange, lemon and vanilla.

Rosemary is often used in drawer and closet sachets to keep moths and pests away.

• In the chicken coop, rosemary can be hung in bundles throughout the coop. Rosemary uses also include an insect spray made by mixing rosemary essential oil with water. Spraying this throughout the coop will keep insects at bay. I found this out first hand when a swarm of bee-like flies invaded our coop.  Once I hung my rosemary bundles and used my DIY insect spray, the flies were gone and didn't come back.

If you have space and/or live in a southern clime, you can plant rosemary near the coop to repel pests.

Dried rosemary can be added to nest boxes to keep insects away and calm hens as they're laying.

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A Herb Through the Ages

Rosemary has been an important plant for centuries and there are many stories about this wonderful plant. A few favorites are below.

• It is said that when the Holy Family fled Egypt, they had to hide from soldiers. Mary spread her cloak over some rosemary plants and hid behind it. They say the flowers then turned blue to honor Mary. In the Christian faith, it is said that rosemary will grow for 33 years. That's the number of years Jesus lived.

• Greek students would wear necklaces and headbands of rosemary to help them do better on tests.

One Popular Plant

Rosemary has become a staple herb for the kitchen herb garden. It can easily be found at many nurseries and in many varieties. Many people will purchase a few varieties and grow them to see which becomes their favorite. Some varieties are upright and others are prostrate which means they will grow along the ground.

Rosemary uses are as varied as its varieties from the kitchen, throughout the house and even to the chicken coop.

Keeping Rosemary Indoors in Winter

Rosemary is not a cold-hardy herb. In the north, people will treat it as an annual or try to overwinter it indoors. In the south, it thrives in gardens year-round. A great southern city to visit is Charleston, South Carolina where you can see hedgerows of rosemary that line the walkways.

• Rosemary is hardy through zones 8 to 10 meaning it can't be grown outside where the temperature drops below 10℉.

Timesaver: If you live in the north, you can plant rosemary directly into a decorative container if you plan to bring it inside during the winter. If you change your mind about your garden-planted rosemary, it can be transferred from the garden to a container in the fall.

It's important to remember that rosemary needs water to survive but doesn't like wet feet. Be sure your plant has good drainage. Water only when needed, but be careful not to let your plant dry out completely.

• Green needles turning brown equals overwatering.
• Woody growth and yellowing leaves equal a plant that is rootbound and needs to be re-potted.
• Gentle misting can mimic rosemary's native habitat and help keep the plant healthy.

Rosemary plants do not like the dry heat of a home in the winter. The key to keeping your plant alive is to keep it in a cool place with good sunlight. I move my rosemary planters outside on any winter day that gets above 40 degrees or so. If I use my plants for decoration when company is coming, I only move them into place when I'm entertaining and then move them back to their ideal spot.

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