Harvest Rosemary: When And How?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:31 pm

Rosemary harvest provides you with aromatic cuttings of the Mediterranean spice bushes. For optimal flavor, the harvesting process must be done correctly. How to do this, you will learn in this guide.

  • best time to harvest just before flowering
  • in the morning
  • harvest a maximum of one third
  • cut thoroughly
  • use clean and sharp cutting tools


To preserve the full aroma of rosemary and not negatively interfere with the growth of the plant, you should always harvest at the right time. Just the right time of pruning ensures that the shoots do not lose their aroma intensity. Excellent for this is the time before flowering, because the plant now puts all its energy into the formation of new leaves. Depending on the region, Salvia rosmarinus blooms from mid-March to September. So you should know about when your plant starts to bloom to avoid a certain loss of aroma. To do this, pick a suitable day with the appropriate characteristics as the harvest time a few days before. The following days are recommended:

  • sunny
  • dry
  • warm
  • no danger of night frosts

Harvest Rosemary: When And How?

Furthermore, you need to pay attention to the time of day to avoid problems with moisture:

  • in the morning
  • at noon

Dew must be dried

Note: You can always cut individual rosemary branches throughout the year if you are keeping a container plant. When doing so, be sure to always harvest only small amounts so as not to weaken the shrubs.

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Harvesting tool

To avoid harming the Mediterranean herb unnecessarily during harvest, you need the right tools. You should only use tools that ensure a clean cut without bruising. The following are excellent for this purpose:

  • Garden shears
  • Rose shears
  • Garden Sheep Shears
  • Tinkering scissors
  • Knife
Harvest Rosemary: When And How?

Note: Always disinfect and sharpen the tools before the harvest cut. This is the only way to protect your specimens from pathogens and fungi that can easily enter the cut wounds through the blades.

Harvesting Rosemary: Instructions

As soon as there is a suitable time to harvest rosemary, you can reach for the shears. The following step-by-step instructions will explain how to harvest properly:

  • Start by scouring the rosemary bush for diseased and withered shoots. Remove these completely so that the plant does not expend unnecessary energy on them after the harvest cut. You can dispose of the cuttings in the compost or organic waste.
  • You can remove a maximum of one-third of the young, non-woody shoots. These have the most needles and do not negatively affect the further growth of rosemary due to pruning. This is one of the most important points in these instructions.
  • Always prune in close proximity to the woody part of a shoot. By doing this, you will encourage the rosemary plants to continue to sprout. Put the scissors or knife to work and cut the shoot thoroughly. In this way, you quickly and effectively harvest rosemary.
Harvest Rosemary: When And How?

Rosemary harvest: care after

After a successful yield, you still need to take care of the spice bushes a little, so that their vitality does not suffer from pruning. Check the soil for dryness via the thumb test and water if necessary. While rosemary tolerates and prefers drier soil, a little moisture is recommended after harvest pruning.

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If you are harvesting in late spring, you should now apply the annual slow-release fertilizer. This is simply worked into the substrate to effectively provide nutrients to the herbs. The following are suitable as slow-release fertilizers:

  • mature compost
  • Horn shavings

Frequently asked questions

Is maintenance pruning necessary in addition to harvesting?

Yes. With an annual maintenance pruning in the spring, you protect the plant from senescence and thus a loss of new shoots that you could use. Wait until there is no longer a risk of frost at night to do the maintenance pruning. Thin out the plant well and cut it back by a third. At the same time you can give shape to the spice bushes.

How to preserve rosemary in the long term?

Rosemary shoots can be preserved in many ways. Drying and freezing are particularly popular, as they do not destroy the essential oils. This means that the preserved shoots remain aromatic, which has a positive effect on their use.

How to dry rosemary?

To dry rosemary, you need to either hang the harvested shoots upside down in a warm place or place them in the oven at 50°C for 4 hours. It is important not to wash the crop, as this will result in the loss of important aromatic substances. Furthermore, you must dispose of all wilted or diseased shoots, as they are not suitable for drying.

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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