Pruning rosemary rejuvenates the plants and encourages more leaves and flowers
Regular pruning helps maintain the plant's shape, gives new growth, and prevents the plant from becoming woody or leggy.
Spring is the best time to prune, but autumn is the second best as it cleans up the plant and prepares it for a life indoors during the cold winter months.
You'll need a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors.
Examine your plant and identify branches that are dead, diseased, or damaged. These should be removed first.
Next, remove woody growth. Rosemary can become quite woody as it matures. To keep the plant healthy, occasionally prune away some of the older, woody stems. Cut these back only to where they connect to healthier, younger growth. Don't cut back the woody sections of the plant or you might kill it.
Rosemary can become leggy and open over time, so shaping it comes next. To do this trim back the longest branches, cutting just above a set of healthy leaves or a node. This will encourage branching and bushier growth. Rosemary looks best when a rounded shape is maintained.
Make sure that to maintain a balance between removing older growth and encouraging new growth. This will help the plant stay vigorous.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid cutting more than one-third of the plant's overall growth in a single pruning session. Rosemary can be sensitive to heavy pruning, and cutting too much can stress the plant. Never cut rosemary back into the woody sections of the plant or you might kill it.
Use the cuttings in cooking or to propagate new plants. Simply strip the leaves from the cuttings, leaving about an inch of bare stem, and plant them in a well-draining soil mix. Adding a sprinkle of a rooting powder will give the stems a nice boost as they start their new life as a plant. The stems should root and grow into new rosemary plants.
After pruning, water your rosemary thoroughly and provide it with balanced fertilizer to encourage healthy new growth.Remember that rosemary is a hardy plant and can tolerate a fair amount of pruning. Regular maintenance will keep your rosemary looking healthy and productive.
Use the fresh cuttings in your favorite recipes, such as rosemary lemonade and rosemary-almond cookies. Store them in a damp paper towel in a plastic resealable bag for up to two weeks in your fridge, or freeze them for longer-term storage. Rosemary can also be air dried and stored in an airtight container for use in cooking.