Pruning Rosemary

In many ways, pruning rosemary is the perfect way for beginners to learn how to prune. Rosemary are very forgiving plants and, given that your rosemary is well drained and getting plenty of sun, it's almost impossible to kill this hardy plant.

Pruning Rosemary In You Landscape

Rosemary plants are important landscape plants both for their profuse, branching habit and for their fragrant leaves, which are often used for cooking. One thing you must understand when planting rosemary is that these plants are fast growers and will quickly fill (and overflow) their space. Pruning is an important way to keep this plant healthy and under control. Here's how to get started:

  • When to cut. The best time to prune your rosemary plant is just after it blooms, typically in mid to late summer. Mature rosemary plants bloom on last year's growth, so cutting early can limit bloom production the following year. Avoid pruning in fall or winter, as this will promote new growth that won't have time to become cold hardy.
  • Keep the working parts clean. Although rosemary is easy to cut, the oils that the stems produce can quickly gum up even the sharpest shears. Be sure to clean your tools often when pruning rosemary. Denatured alcohol will cut through the sticky residue and disinfect your blades at the same time.
  • Work your way up. Start at the bottom of your rosemary plant, removing any straggling branches and any that are growing against the overall shape of the plant. Shape the bottom your rosemary, removing 4" to 6" of growth, but not cutting into wood that isn't producing leaves.
  • A little off the top. Continue pruning up to the top of your rosemary plant, stepping back from time to time to judge the overall shape. For regular pruning, be sure to cut away wood that isn't producing leaves.
  • The extreme option. If your rosemary has grown out of control, you can cut it back severely, but realize that it may take two or three years for the plant to regain its size and growth. Make cuts back to where a branch begins to avoid leaving stumps.
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Guide to growing rosemary.  It won't take much to make you remember the delicious taste of rosemary on fresh-baked bread, but rosemary is said to improve your memory in other ways as well. 

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