▷ How and when to prune rosemary【Trimming rosemary】


Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. This bush, in addition to being used in the kitchen, is used to treat many health problems such as digestive problems, overweight or hair loss. Given the importance of this small plant is that you could not miss an article about it in this blog, we will see everything about how and when to prune rosemary.


You will learn the best techniques for proper pruning, the right time to trim and with what tools to do it. Stay until the end of the article and you will not have any doubts when you take your pruning shears.

Pruning rosemary - How and when to prune

Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. Interesting facts about rosemary bush


Before entering the main topic of this post, pruning rosemary, I leave some interesting facts about this bush. I bet what you want, you do not know one or several of them. 😉

  • Usage of rosemary dates back to 500 B.C. when it was used as a culinary and medicinal herb by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
  • The famous Water of the Queen Hungary has as main component rosemary. The name of this perfume and its fame is due to Queen Elizabeth of Hungary (1305-1380), she suffered from rheumatic pains and paralysis, to seek relief she went to a hermit who gave her this alchemical tincture, thanks to her she managed to make them disappear the pains, rejuvenated and embellished so much that the king of Poland offered him marriage and that she was 72 years old.
  • A very old legend explains that the Virgin Mary, in her flight from Egypt, lost a blue mantle that covered her, the mantle fell on the branches of a simple green bush, then, the bush blossomed giving small blue flowers, to the bush today it is known as rosemary.
  • In Egypt it was one of the ingredients of the formulas made to embalm the bodies of the dead.
  • Ancient Greeks believed that Rosemary was a magical plant that could strengthen memory.
  • During the English Tudor era, Rosemary symbolized fidelity, and brides would give sprigs of Rosemary to bridegroom as a tradition.
  • If you’ve been working hard, whether it’s gardening or deep cleaning your home, rosemary is good for pain relief. But that’s not the only benefit it has. It also helps increase blood circulation to the brain, improves memory, reduces inflammation, can treat Alzheimer’s, reduces the severity of asthma attacks, cures cancer and even protects the system. immune.
  • Distilled Rosemary oil can be poisonous in strong doses.

2. Tools needed to prune or trim an rosemary bush


Rosemary pruning is not a complicated task, and with it the tools you will need for this task are easy to achieve.

  • Shears.
  • A pair of gloves.
  • Safety glasses.
How and when to prune rosemary bush
Rosemary bush

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all the tools before trimming your rosemary. This will help prevent disease transmission, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

3. Can I cut rosemary back to the ground?


Cutting a plant at ground level is a type of pruning that is classified as hard pruning. In later sections we will talk about this type of pruning, but here we will strictly respond to the query in the title of this section. Can I cut the rosemary down to the ground?

The answer is simple. Yes, you can cut the rosemary down to the ground. In either case, it’s important to note that rosemary is an herb that prefers light pruning to severe pruning. Although we will clarify later that rosemary withstands strong pruning well, and sometimes it is advisable to do so, the truth is that if it can be avoided it is better.

4. How to prune rosemary


Carrying out rosemary pruning is not life or death for this shrub. By this I mean that it is not a 100% necessary care, but it is a good practice if what we want is to control the size, shape or in some cases rejuvenate the plant.

With this said you can go imagining what types of pruning are those we carry in the rosemary, they are:

  • Pruning or trimming in order to shape the bush.
  • Trim in order to control the size of the rosemary. This is given that if we do not perform maintenance pruning we will have a fairly large bush, which can reach two meters in height.
  • In case you have a very old or not so old rosemary but with several years without being pruned, what we will need is to perform a rejuvenation pruning.
  • Clean pruning where unnecessary and unhelpful elements for the shrub will be eliminated.

Then we will explain each of these types of pruning, because although they are not complicated to carry out, it is necessary to know some essential tips.

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4.1 Trimming rosemary to shape

Like all training pruning, it is good to do it from the early age of the plant. If you do so, it will be much easier to guide the bush to the desired shape. Otherwise, if we want to give shape to a mature rosemary, we will have to cut bigger cuts which can be harmful to your health.

For the first case, prune at an early age, you can fix it with a simple gardening scissor. But if your rosemary is something bigger, you should look for a long-handled scissors to make your task easier. Whatever the case, make sure they are correctly sharpened, this will help to make more neat cuts that will heal better.

In training pruning you can find two very different cases:

  • When it is the first pruning of formation in your rosemary: for it you must take distance, observing of different sizes to the bush. Then with the way you want to visualize it in your head, begin to cut back.
  • When you have already done previous training pruning: this will be a maintenance pruning of the shape of your rosemary, and it is quite simple. It will be enough to look for the cuts of the previous prunings, and to carry out the pruning in this height of the branches. This will ensure that your bush recovers the previous form.

The pruning of formation not only helps to give form, but it will allow a more dense foliage of rosemary. For its wide use in the kitchen, a very dense foliage is very beneficial.

Perform this pruning periodically, do not let years without doing this rosemary pruning, and your bush will look more beautiful and healthy. Besides being faster and easier pruning.

4.2 Rosemary pruning to control its size

Personally, I am one of the people who prefer to see trees or shrubs with their natural forms, without forcing them with any type of trimming. In the same way, the time may come when the size of the bush is a bit annoying for the garden. That is, I will have to prune my rosemary to control its size, which can exceed two meters in height if we do not cut it.

Depending on the degree to which you want to reduce the size, it will depend if you can do it in one stage, or you should plan it in more than one stage. It is never advisable to trim the dimensions of rosemary by more than a third. If you want to reduce by more than a third, you should do it in more than one pruning, leaving time for the bush to recover from the wounds.

No matter where you are making the cuts (in height, sideways), take each branch and do not cut more than a third of it. Rosemary is an arbous that recovers very well to pruning, but you must give it time for such recovery. Remember that with pruning you are making wounds to your plant, you do not want them to end up hurting your health.

4.3 Hard pruning rosemary

If your rosemary begins to present a very low growth rate, with branches that have a lot of dry wood, it is a good time to consider the need to perform a hard pruning or rejuvenation pruning. Like all rejuvenation pruning what is sought in this case is to give the rosemary a push to reactivate again, with new shoots that emerge from its base and are healthier and stronger than the previous ones.

Many woody shrubs do not support a hard pruning like the one of rejuvenation, and they die without releasing new buds. But that does not happen with the rosemary, which responds perfectly to this type of pruning, and with the pertinent care will sprout with much strong from its base.

The first thing you should do is to carefully observe the entire structure of the shrub, analyze if there are still branches that have strength to re-sprout and which do not. Give an opportunity to those that seem to be strong, you will have total time to cut them in case they do not react. Cut to the ground those weaker and reduced a third of the strongest.

4.4 Rosemary cleaning pruning

This cleaning pruning does not change anything to the pruning that should be done to any tree or shrub. When pruning the rosemary you will have to make sure to trim the following elements:

  • Dry flowers, you can do it with your own hands without using scissors.
  • Dry, damaged and / or diseased branches. Within this group are the branches dry by the frost, damaged by the wind or some storm, affected by any type of plague or engermendad. Be sure to trim these last ones, you do not want that affection to spread to the whole plant.

The success of this pruning will depend almost exclusively on the good observation of the pruner. So you should take your time, do not rush or you can leave unwanted branches.

4.5 Pruning rosemary in pots

Rosemary is a versatile herb that can thrive in containers, making it a popular choice for container gardening. Although you could prune your rosemary in a pot following the instructions we have seen so far, we will take a moment to highlight some crucial points to be able to carry out the task.

  • Regular Light Pruning: Since potted rosemary has limited space to grow compared to its garden counterparts, regular pruning is crucial. Try to trim the plant back slightly every few months, concentrating on removing the first few inches of growth.
  • Timing is key: Ideally, prune during the active growing season, which is typically spring or early summer. This allows the plant to recover quickly and take advantage of the warmer months to grow again. Avoid pruning in the winter when rosemary goes dormant.
  • Use the right tools: When pruning rosemary in pots, always use sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears. This ensures clean cuts and minimizes the risk of damaging the plant. Sanitize tools before use to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Don’t forget the basics: In addition to pruning, remember to provide your potted rosemary with adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, and adequate watering. These factors contribute to the general health and vigor of the plant, aiding its recovery after pruning.

By following these guidelines for pruning container rosemary, you can maintain a compact, healthy, and attractive plant that will continue to provide you with fragrant foliage and culinary delights all year long.

5. When to prune rosemary


Rosemary pruning can be done at any time during spring or summer. It is advisable never to do it near the first frosts, since irreparable damages can be generated in the plant.

In autumn and winter it is advisable not to prune as this will be focusing on their new growth, in addition to the acclimatization to the environment. It is a very important phase since it must be hardened so that winter and its low temperatures can not hurt it. As always, these tips will depend a lot on where you live, since in tropical areas you will not have to take care of frost.

On the other hand it will depend on what kind of pruning we are talking about. For example, cleaning pruning can be done at any time of the year, regardless of whether it is cold or hot. While a pruning of rejuvenation should never be done in frost periods, since it could affect the cuts. Do this pruning close to spring, when the plant starts to activate and you can heal the wounds.

6. Video trimming rosemary


To end the article, and as usual in this blog, I leave a video (The Arbor Gate channel) where they review several of the concepts we have seen so far.


Good until here the article has arrived, I hope you have understood everything about how and when to prune rosemary, and do not doubt even a second when you take your scissors. 🙂

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