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There are now many exciting cultivars of the Mediterranean rosemary to be found in nurseries and garden centers. R. o. 'Prostratus' has been in the trade for many decades and has proven to be tough and reliable under many landscape conditions. This cultivar is a low growing evergreen shrub with a dense foliage habit; it can mound to 24 in. tall and spread 5-6 ft. wide. Its foliage is comprised of narrow needle-like leaves that are deep green above and whitish below. Attractive small pale blue flowers occur in late winter and intermittently throughout the year. Foliage is valued as a food seasoning and contains oils that are used in perfumes, lotions and soaps; flowers attract birds and bees.

Prostrate rosemary is well suited for ground cover plantings on slopes and banks of all sizes, as well as in containers, drought tolerant gardens and along garden borders. It does best in well-drained soils and full sun, and tolerates cold temperatures to 15°F. In many landscape situations this plant is sheared and trimmed to create flowing shapes and maintain appropriate size. These adaptations make it well suited for all part of the Inland Empire.

Water Needs

Prostrate rosemary and its several cultivars all grow well in Inland empire gardens in areas of full sun and with normal rainfall and low amounts of summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water and you should make irrigation adjustments based of field observations of growth and character. Regular moisture during the spring months can sustain more growth and flowering character

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Spreading, Sprawling, Mounding, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 24 in.
Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Blue
Flower Season: Winter
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Rocky soil
Exposure Adaptations: Wind, Heat, Frost, Drought, Coastal salt air, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Screening, Rock gardens, Residential spaces, Raised planters, Parks and open space, Grouped, Foundations, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, Commercial spaces, Civic spaces, Borders, Banks, Background plant, Attracts bees, Fragrant foliage, Attracts butterflies


Prune lightly as desired any time of year to keep to desired shape or to keep 'woody thatch' from building up in lower areas that are shaded by upper branches (D,S). It even be clipped as a formal hedge with consistent light pruning, but is best used as a shrub or informal hedge, which is far less work. Different cultivars grow to very different heights and widths, from dwarf varieties which do not grow much larger than 1' tall and wide, to large varieties that can be 6' tall and wider than that. The key to having rosemary be a low maintenance plant in your garden is to choose a variety that fits the size of the space you want to put it in. You can prune anywhere along branches that have leaves on them, but do not cut below the lowest set of leaves or along bare wood on any branch because it will not resprout from these areas. For this reason, if a plant is getting larger than desired, it is best not to delay pruning (S).

Creeping varieties that are growing beyond their desired width or into paths should be cut back relatively often to avoid having to cut into thick older wood later. If a creeping variety begins to grow taller than desired, the more vertical branches can be removed entirely to maintain a more spreading form.

Some ground cover or creeping varieties can get very wide over time. It is best to plant them leaving space to accommodate future growth. Often people are impatient and plant them at a closer spacing so that the open areas are covered more quickly. If this happens, as plants grow in, they will grow on top of each other, shading out branches (which will eventually die), and often becoming taller than originally desired. To prevent this, if plants are "overplanted," it is important to remove entire plants selectively as they start to grow together, or carefully prune on a regular basis to control the size of each individual plant (S).



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