Pruning Rosemary

How to prune rosemary?

Keep it Ornamental 

Pruning Rosemary – My neglected flowerbed, or should I call it "my laboratory for how not to treat your plants". I know it’s a little crazy, but I am committed to doing whatever it takes to show you how, when and most importantly what you can do with your hand pruners, and the affect it will have on your garden. It took me time, mental strength and lots of patience to bring my flowerbed to the state that you see here. But it was done in the name of ‘education’ J

Before pruning - Not so fast. Unless its branches are in your way, or the plant reaches the heights you see in the picture, and has no strong stable stem to lean on, I see no reason for pruning rosemary - that beautiful ornamental shrub. Unless of course the cuttings are going straight to the kitchen and being used for dinner. Daily pruning for cooking purposes is fine – it is after all the life purpose of Rosemary, What I want to explain is the what, how and when of pruning for growth. Rosemary can handle both gentle and hard pruning methods easily, and she (yes, I think of Rosemary as a girl J )will respond well in both cases. So don't be afraid to prune hard if needed, and I’ll show you how in just a moment.  

A new design in the making

When? - Trimming short stems for your everyday use can be done throughout the year (mid-spring until mid-fall). Hard pruning, the way I did, can be done only from early spring until early-fall.

Why? Because if you let your Rosemary grow and grow without pruning her, she will lose energy. At some point she will stop growing new leaves, and the main stem will lose its strength and ability to support the height and weight of the plant. What you want, is for your Rosemary to develop new "super green" leaves and build a strong stable stem.

Where - I felt O.K about sticking my pruners inside the stem because I wanted to show you the exact spot I was choosing to prune, as well as the average height I plan for my Rosemary bush. In the next few weeks new leaves and future stems will grow beneath that point. New "super green" stems will develop the specific stem will slowly become thicker.  

Pruning rosemary

A new look

After the big cut - As you can see, the blue line shows the new height of the Rosemary. After some fairly hard pruning, the plant’s capacity had changed, there are less branches, and less weight on the main stem, but my Rosemary is well on her way to becoming queen of the herb garden!!


My preferred pruning shears - For this specific job, I used heavy duty hand pruners. Rosemary has those tough woody stems (see where I stuck my pruners in) and will require a tool that can handle it.

Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking. 

Gardening gift ideas
to use indoors or out