The Q&A Archives: Pruning Rosemary

Question: What are the recommended pruning techniques for rosemary? We have overwintered ours indoors for the past two years so it has grown to be almost 3' tall. Some of the cuttings have produced multiple stalks rather than nice tight single ones and the new growth on top is getting a little leggy. Should pruning be timed with its outdoor transplanting? And how much into the unfoliated bark-like stalks can we prune? Fyi, it's currently in a large pot by a south facing window in a cool room, and it gets a weak dilution of miracle gro with each weekly watering.

Answer: Rosemary tends to become woody, almost like a shrub, with age. Usually it is better to pinch out the tips or shear it while it is growing rather than to cut it back hard into old wood. Regular frequent trimming w will result in a denser, bushier plant. (Each spot where you trim should develop additional branching.) Some varieties of rosemary are naturally taller and more upright than others, so to some extent your results will depend on that as well as your pruning technique. Newer growth can be trimmed back fairly hard, but I would be very cautious about cutting into hard wood. You might consider reducing or eliminating the fertilizing during the winter when the plant is indoors and growing in reduced light compared to summer. This should cut down on that oversucculent fairly weak winter top growth. I would remove most of that in spring so it can be replaced by the sturdier summer growth.

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