How to Prune Rosemary for Optimal Growth

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Learn the best practices for pruning your rosemary plants for optimal growth. This guide will show you how to properly prune your rosemary plants to encourage new growth and prevent overgrowth.

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), which includes many other herbs such as basil, oregano, sage, and thyme. Rosemary grows best in full sun and well-drained soil and can reach up to 6 feet (2 m) in height. Although it is tolerant of drought conditions, rosemary will not do well if overwatered.

What You’ll Need

-Pruning shears
-Disinfectant solution

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an aromatic, evergreen herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and has a strong, pungent flavor that is often used in cooking. Rosemary can be grown as a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10, but it is often grown as an annual or considered a tender perennial in colder climates. When grown as a perennial, rosemary can reach heights of 2 to 6 feet (0.6 to 1.8 m) and spread 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m). Rosemary plants have woody stems and small, oblong leaves that are green on top and silver-gray on the bottom. The flowers are small and blue or lavender in color.

Rosemary plants need full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. They are drought tolerant once they are established, but they will need regular watering during dry spells or heat waves. Many gardeners prefer to grow rosemary in pots so that they can bring the plants indoors during winter months. Rosemary can be propagated by seed, stem cuttings, or division.

Pruning is an important part of caring for rosemary plants because it helps encourage new growth and prevent the plant from becoming too woody. Rosemary plants should be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

The Pruning Process

Pruning is an important part of keeping your rosemary plants healthy and productive. By pruning, you remove old growth that might be pulling nutrients away from new growth, you shape the plant so that it will have a more balanced appearance, and you also encourage new growth.

Step One: Inspect the Plant

In order to prune your rosemary plant properly, you will need to first inspect it to determine the shape you would like it to be, and then identify any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Once you have done this, you can begin pruning.

Pruning is an important part of keeping your rosemary plant healthy and vigorous. By removing dead or damaged wood, you are encouraging new growth and preventing the spread of disease. Rosemary is a tough plant and can tolerate heavy pruning, so don’t be afraid to cut away any unwanted growth.

If your rosemary plant is overgrown or has become leggy, you can give it a heavy pruning to rejuvenate it. Simply cut back all of the stems to just above where new growth is emerging. This will encourage the plant to produce bushy new growth that is more compact and fuller.

Step Two: Cut Away Dead or Damaged Wood

After you’ve removed the dead and damaged wood, it’s time to cut away any crossing or rubbing branches. These are the places where two branches are growing too close together and rubbing against each other. This can damage the bark and lead to infection, so it’s important to remove these branches.

When you’re cutting away crossing or rubbing branches, be sure to make your cuts at a 45-degree angle. This will help the wound heal more quickly and prevent infection.

Step Three: Cut Back Overgrown Branches

As you can see in the photo, I have cut back all of the long, overgrown branches. I made my cuts at an angle so that any water would run off the cut and not sit on the branch (which could lead to disease). I also tried to make my cuts just above a leaf bud so that the plant would branch out (instead of just growing straight up).


Pruning your rosemary plants properly will ensure that they remain healthy and produce the best possible flavor. For the first growing season, simply remove any dead or damaged leaves. Once the plant is established, you can begin to shape it by trimming back any long or straggly branches. Take care not to over-prune, as this can damage the plant. Rosemary plants are relatively low-maintenance and do not require frequent pruning. However, you may want to prune them once or twice a year to encourage new growth and keep them looking their best.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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