Ask a Question forum: My Rosemary Is a Monster

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Texas (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Sep 13, 2016 9:43 PM CST
I have a rosemary plant that measures about 6' x 8'. When I bought my house in '98 I planted what I'm guessing was a 1 gallon size rosemary. It was an experiment. I have large oaks and didn't know if I would have enough sun to grow herbs, etc. Of course I planted this little rosemary in one of the sunnier parts of my yard. I might water it once or twice a year. Maybe feed it once or twice but not much. So now I have this monster that has lived through droughts, ice storms, neglect and abuse. Can I cut it way back? I hate that it's got the best real estate in my yard. But I've heard that cutting it way back will kill it. Thoughts? Anyone?
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Name: Jessie Worsham
Stockbridge, GA (Zone 8a)
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Jessie6162
Sep 14, 2016 7:40 AM CST
Monster is right! From what I have heard, pruning in Spring or Summer is best, and do not prune more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. You might be able to prune 1/3, wait a few weeks for it to recover, then prune again. But I am no expert! I hope some more folks will chime in.
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Sep 14, 2016 8:46 AM CST
If you're going to prune it, be very careful and don't prune more than 1/3rd like Jessie mentioned. I had some old monsters like this when we moved into our place. I cut them back by half and lost them all. It was just too big a shock for them.
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Texas (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Sep 15, 2016 9:10 AM CST
Jessie and Karen - Thanks for your replies even tho they have confirmed my fear. I have heard the 1/3 rule but I wonder if that might encourage new growth in the long run. At least I get some consolation due to the birds like having it near the feeders. If I cut my monster back, I wonder if I'd be able to plant some native perennials around it. I'd love to plant some milkweed as I have a lot of seeds. Have other plants that need to be transplanted. Thoughts?
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
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plantmanager
Sep 15, 2016 9:20 AM CST
It does make some nice cover for the birds! I'd cut it back a bit to make room for a few other plants. Milkweed is a good idea. Not enough people plant it anymore.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 15, 2016 10:12 AM CST
Joan, I think it's much more to do with HOW you cut back that nice big plant than when - if you cut off the ends of all the branches with the nice healthy green leaves, that will do a LOT more harm than if you just look underneath and take your big strong loppers and cut off one big branch right at the base. The 1/3 rule still applies, so use your judgement. Looks like it's sprawling sideways a lot so don't cut a vertical branch out of the middle, cut off one of the horizontal ones so the plant won't be so wide.

This will reduce the overall size of the plant, but not denude it of foliage it needs to sustain itself. Go for one big branch now, then another one in early spring before it blooms. If it's not down to a manageable size then again cut one more branch in late summer or fall.

It will also look a lot better overall than if you scalp the tops off it. It may have one bald spot for a little while but will most likely fill in.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Texas (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Sep 16, 2016 12:17 AM CST
Thanks, Elaine. You got me scared now. Wading into the monster to find a big branch at the base - - - I might get lost!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 16, 2016 7:20 AM CST
Tell somebody before you go, so they can send a search party, Joan. Hilarious!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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