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Prune rosemary: when and how to do it

Prune rosemary: when and how to do it

The Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly called rosemary, is an aromatic plant native to the Mediterranean area. It is a shrub that can reach heights of up to 2 meters, and is very recognizable for its small purple or white flowers, as well as for its thin and elongated leaves. Rosemary is very popular for its large number of medicinal and culinary properties, which is why it is a widely used ingredient in many Mediterranean diet dishes. Although this plant does not need much care, its pruning deserves to be treated in depth, because although it is not vital for the plant, it does help keep it in good condition and with the desired shape. if you want to learn how to prune rosemarykeep reading in this EcologíaVerde article where you will find a very useful practical guide.

When to prune rosemary

There are two differentiated prunings to perform on rosemary. As we have said, neither of them is necessary for the plant, but both have their own function.

Rosemary formation pruning

This pruning is similar to that applied to fruit trees, saving the obvious distances. This is rarely done after planting the rosemary or, if we have planted it from seed, when it grows enough to be able to mold it.

Rosemary cleaning pruning

This other type of pruning is done to keep the plant as healthy as possible. Both this pruning and the other should be done in the warm months, at least 4 or 6 weeks before the first frosts arrive. For this, the beginning of spring, after the cold, this is a good time. In fact, rejuvenation pruning or cleaning of old rosemary should always be done at this time.

Prune rosemary: when and how to do it - When to prune rosemary

How to prune rosemary step by step – 2 types of pruning

As in all types of pruning, before starting we must properly disinfect the cutting tools that we are going to use. Once this point is clarified, we can move on to how to prune rosemary step by step according to the two types of pruning.

How to prune rosemary to shape

Training pruning, which is done as soon as the bush begins to take on a moldable shape, that is, when it begins to have a minimum density. Rosemary is not a fruit tree whose future production we should worry about, so you will simply have to visualize what shape you want to give it and prune accordingly. If what you want is to carry out a maintenance pruning, or you simply do not want the bush to grow up to the 2 meters that it can reach, an annual pruning or every two years will give very good results.

  1. Focus on gentle pruning, as pruning too drastically could be damaging to the bush.
  2. Take the pruning shears and cut the dry branches and those that are withered or show signs of poor condition.
  3. Once these are removed, start shortening the healthy ones that are too long.
  4. Move away from the plant a little to get a better perspective of its shape and appearance to continue cutting branches correctly.
  5. Never reduce its height by more than a third in a single pruning, and if a very drastic reduction is necessary, do it in several stages, giving the plant enough time to recover from the damage that, after all, each pruning entails.

How to prune rosemary – cleaning or rejuvenation

Another case is that of very old rosemary that are stopping growing and need a rejuvenation pruning. This is a drastic resource that can endanger the plant, and should be done only when we are sure we want to return the rosemary to a state of greater growth and activity. Not all woody shrubs can withstand such aggressive pruning. In fact, rosemary is one of the few that can. Follow these steps to prune rosemary to rejuvenate it:

  1. Take the pruning shears and start pruning the too dry or old branches of the plant to its very base, that is, cut them whole.
  2. Go removing one by one and moving away a little to observe the entire plant well and better detect the branches to be cut. As you cut the outer ones you will have to look more closely to spot some that are left on the inside of the foliage.
  3. Leave only the branches that still appear strong and healthy, although be aware that if it has been a long time since this plant was last pruned or has not been well cared for, it may be that none of the branches are in good condition. so you may have to cut them all.
Prune rosemary: when and how to do it - How to prune rosemary step by step - 2 types of pruning

Basic rosemary care

Follow these instructions on how to care for a rosemary plant To keep yours in the best possible condition:

  • Climate: As a plant native to the Mediterranean area, the ideal climate for rosemary is temperate or warm. However, the great adaptability of this shrub allows it to thrive in cold climates. This can resist light frosts, but severe or prolonged ones will force us to protect it in some way.
  • Light: rosemary appreciates receiving a large amount of direct light, unless it is an exceptionally hot climate, in which case it will be better to protect it from the hours of most intense incidence.
  • Earth or substrate: The most important thing at this point is that the soil offers good drainage, since this plant is used to a certain aridity. It prefers dry soils, so you should avoid clay-type soils as much as possible.
  • Pass: you can use general fertilizer in the warm months. If you opt for organic, such as worm humus or compost, it will suffice to add a couple of centimeters of it to the soil in spring.
  • Irrigation. Never overdo watering, avoiding flooding the plant at all costs, as it could cause its roots to rot. Water without wetting the aerial part of the bush, approximately every ten days, when you notice the dry soil. You can refer to this other post on When to Water Plants to get a better idea of ​​when to water rosemary.

To finish, we recommend reading these other gardening guides that deal with this plant. Learn with these other posts How to care for the rosemary plant in a pot (you can also see this guide below in video) and How to plant rosemary. Also, below you can see our video about rosemary oil.

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