Rosemary is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean regions, but is found in cooler, northern climes as well. A favorite in home gardens, rosemary shrubs can live, on average, for 15 years in temperate climates. If grown in a container, the plant may be taken indoors during the winter months and returned to the outdoors once the weather has warmed.
Though rosemary requires little maintenance, you should cut back, or prune your rosemary occasionally. Pruning encourages new growth as well as giving the shrub an aesthetically pleasing shape.
How to Prune a Rosemary Shrub
Begin by clipping any stems that extend beyond the general shape of the plant. You want to start with the plant having an even surface all the way around.
Start at the bottom of the shrub and cut the new, softer growth back 2 to 3 inches. Work your way upwards approximately 3 inches, cutting back the stems so they are the same length. This establishes a “base” for the plant shape.
Continue working upward, trimming back approximately 1/2 inch, on a diagonal, for every 1 to 2 inches. As you prune the rosemary shrub, create a conical shape by clipping around the shrub and upwards. Step back every time you make a full circle so as to assess the overall shape.
This type of pruning gives the rosemary shrub a neater, tidier appearance, and for a single plant, adds an aesthetically pleasing element to the garden. Consistently snipping the new, softer stems for cooking or for medicinal purposes, helps maintain the shape as well as encourage new growth.
Prune to Maintain a Hedge-like Appearance
If you have several rosemary shrubs growing together, shape them into a hedge. Do not, however, use an electric hedge clipper as this will damage the delicate stems. Use a hand clipper and trim the front of the rosemary shrubs so the surfaces are even. Do the same for the sides and back.
Clip the top of the plants into a rounded shape to keep the bushy appeal; the rounded tops give the hedge a topiary aesthetic.
Best Times to Prune Rosemary
You can take rosemary clippings anytime you wish, trimming the new growth for your personal needs. Rosemary may be used fresh or dried in cooking, for teas, and for medicinal purposes.
Do not prune rosemary during flowering. The flowers attract pollinators to your garden as well as contribute to the propagation of the plant the following season.
The best times to prune a rosemary shrub, that is, when you cut back a significant amount of the plant, is in the summer after the flowers have dried and fallen off.
Tips for Growing Rosemary
Rosemary thrives in dry, arid climates but has adapted to more humid climates provided the soil drains well. Use a sandy soil and allow the plant to dry out between watering.
Rosemary requires six to eight hours of sunlight a day, and may grow as wide as 3 feet and as tall as 6 feet if planted in-ground in a temperate climate. When planting rosemary, allow for a sufficient amount of space if you intend to let the plant reach its full width and height.
Rosemary cannot survive in below freezing temperatures. If you live in a northern region, plant rosemary in a large container and bring it indoors before the first frost. Keep it in a sunny window.
Home and Gardening Ideas
Mountain Valley Growers