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Pruning Rosemary - How and When to Prune Rosmarinus

Pruning Rosemary

Rosemary shrubs are relatively trouble-free. However, they do require a bit of pruning from time to time. In recent years we have seen the re-introduction of Rosemary Topiary specimens.

Left to their own devices, Rosemary generally look after themselves, but pruning after flowering is sometimes beneficial. Be aware that like the Lavenders - with which they are often confused - Rosemary are not particularly fond of being hacked back. That having been said, hard pruning at the right time - late spring - is an option for well overgrown and neglected plants.

In keeping with most evergreens, the best time to prune is when in active growth. Rosmarinus are best pruned immediately after flowering in late spring. This will encourage good flowering growth for the following year, and also keep the shrub from getting untidy - or leggy.

When to Prune Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis and others

Rosmarinus prostratus - Creeping Rosemaary

The same time of pruning is required for all types of Rosemary - whether upright, bush or spreading types. If grown in containers the growth is sometimes a little bit woody - as a result of too little feed (not a problem) - so the active growth timing is particularly important.

Rosemary flower in late winter - early spring, and often further into the year. Whilst waiting for the flowering to finish is tempting, the shrubs should not be trimmed or pruned too late in the year. End of July being the latest to ensure flower the following winter/spring.

Hedge-grown Rosemary should be clipped as soon as flowering has finished. This prompts soft attractive growth, and does not leave the unsightly bare patches that are often the result of unclipped hedge Rosemary plants. Do not cut back too far into the mature wood, for the hedge will take a little time to re-generate, and you may even lose a few of the plants - not good for an attractive hedge.

How to Prune Rosemary

As has been intimated above, it may well be that your Rosemary plants do NOT require pruning. Don't prune them for the sake of it - unless as a hedge or you are trying Topiary!

General pruning of Rosemary simply entails clipping off the faded flower - you can save them for drying and potpourri. This can be done with a paid of hedge clippers if you want a formal shape to your finished shrub/herb, but is best carried out with a pair of secateurs. Snip back to just below the faded flower section, but not too far into the old wood. If you have a valuable plant (sentimental etc) then if you need to reduce its size dramatically, do it in two or even three stages. Starting in late spring and finishing by the end of August.

For hard or rejuvenation pruning, cut out a third of the plant - NO MORE than a third of the way back. That is to say, cut back/prune one out of every three branches. Then six to eight weeks later - as new growth starts on your pruned section, you can cut half of the remaining branches (You have now pruned two thirds of your old Rosemary shrub. The remaining third can be cut back finally after your last pruned sections start to send out new shoots.

I have always found that Rosmarinus prostratus (R. lavenduloides) - the creeping one, responds well to a good clip after the first flowers have faded. They often flower again early winter if the weather is not to hard!

Don't waste the old Rosemary clippings. Either put them in a paper bag and allow to dry out, when they will give many months of heady aroma, or chop them up into small sections and place them into a linen bag for immediate use. DON'T use these old clipping for the kitchen. The lamb deserves the best. After your new growth has started, that is the time for a few sprigs for the kitchen!

Growing Rosemary - the Herb

Rosemary – Rosmarinus Officinalis. A great herb for many purposes

Growing Rosemary

Rosemary - a small evergreen herb - shrub - which is indigenous from S. Europe to the Mediterranean area. Rosemary bushes can grow up to 4 or 5 feet tall. The wiry older branches are covered in thick leathery leaves with a dark green shine and a white underneath. There is a prominent midrib vein in the middle.

The pale blue, sometimes white flowers, grow in short clusters and appear between April and June. Rosemary seeds are very slow to germinate, so they need to be planted in a pot until well grown, a young plant is best planted in late summer, Rosemary loves hot sun and poor, slightly limed soil which is well drained.

Rosemary is generally hardy, bust some types fail is long cold and wet winters. Rosmarinus officinalis is the main group, but several cultivars within the group are wrongly named.

Miss Jessopp's Upright being the one that is frequently mis-named. The reason simply being that Rosemary Miss Jessopp's Upright is a good uniform upright growing cultivar, but not easy to distinguish from other Rosemary types when young. R. Jessopp's Upright is sought widely by the buyer, so plants are sometimes (accidentally) re-named by nurseries running out of stock. Sad, but it happens! As does R. Miss Jessup's Upright!

Uses of Rosemary

Rosemary is quite a versatile - and important herb - culinary, medicinally and aromatherapy. Who would want Lamb without Rosemary? A Rosemary rinse is good for hair health, and of course the essential oil from Rosemary is used in aromatherapy.

As well as its herbal qualities, it is an invaluable garden shrub. It can be used as a dwarf hedge, a member of the shrub border, rightfully placed in herb gardens, and not amiss in suitable containers. Its main requirement is sunshine and reasonably well-drained soil. It will rarely need feeding, and has little in the way of pruning requirements.

Culinary Uses of Rosemary

Rosemary has a strong pine scent and can be used in many ways, place sprigs of rosemary on Lamb to enhance the flavour, and for a real difference try rosemary with fish, not only can it be used for savoury dishes try making Jams, jellies and even in biscuits. Rosemary works well with Lemon, add to oil to make wonderful condiments or marinades.

When using rosemary, finely chop when adding as an ingredient, use whole when using sprigs so that it can be removed.

A cup of rosemary tea is as effective in relieving a headache as an aspirin. It also said to be good for the memory. Use rosemary to strengthen and stimulate hair and it can be beneficial for premature balding when used as a cold tea rinse or essential oil.

Rosemary also has value as a cardiovascular herb. It has been used to help circulation, to lower blood pressure ant to decrease capillary permeability and fragility.

Rosemary also works in the stomach where it soothes spasms, flatulence and digestive upset. It is also active against yeast infections.

Rosemary Recipes

Potato and Rosemary Scones

Afternoon Teas - Traditional English Cuisine

Potato and Rosemary Scones

This classic Potato and Rosemary Scones are beautiful and very easy to make. You can make them with either or without Parmesan Cheese.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 Scones

Nutrition facts:

177 calories

9 grams fat


2 Eggs

125ml Vegetable Oil

250ml Milk

1tbls Minced rosemary

2tsp grated lemon rind

400gm (14oz) Plain flour

4tsp Baking powder

200gm (8oz) Caster sugar


Boil the Potato until soft, add the ingredients, knead lightly, portion into circles, fry until golden brown.

Add Parmesan Cheese if required a serve with butter.

How to Make

1. In a large bowl mix Eggs, Milk, Oil, Rosemary and Lemon

2. Stir in sifted Flour, Baking powder and Caster sugar.

3. Divide into a twelve cup muffin tray

4. Bake 180c (350f) gas mark 4 for 20 minutes until well risen and golden brown.

By David Hughes - May 8, 2010

Rosemary and Lemon Muffins

Afternoon Teas - Traditional English Cuisine

Potato and Rosemary Scones

Lovely Rosemary and Lemon Muffins, baked to perfection

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 Muffins

Nutrition facts:

265 calories

9.2 grams fat


900gm (2 lb) Potatoes

10ml (2tsp) Salt

2 tbsp Finely chopped rosemary

200gm (8oz) Plain Flour

100gm (4oz) Butter


Boil the Potato until soft, add the ingredients, knead lightly, portion into circles, fry until golden brown.

Add Parmesan Cheese if required a serve with butter.

How to Make

1. Cook potatoes until soft and then mash

2. Add the salt, butter and rosemary

3. Knead lightly and turn out on a floured surface, then roll to ¼ inch thickness

4. Cut out 3 - 4 circles using a cutter, approx. 2 inch in diameter.

5. Cook on a lightly oiled frying pan for 4 -5 minutes on each side until golden.

By David Hughes - May 8, 2010


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