Rosemary Topiary Tips: Learn How To Shape A Rosemary Plant

Rosemary Topiary Tips: Learn How To Shape A Rosemary Plant

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Topiary rosemary plants are shaped, fragrant, beautiful, and usable plants. In other words, they have a little bit of everything to offer. With a rosemary topiary you get an herb that smells lovely and that you can harvest to use in the kitchen. You also get a beautiful, sculpted plant that adds decoration to gardens and the home.

How to Grow a Rosemary Topiary

A rosemary topiary is simply a shaped rosemary plant. You can grow your own and practice the art of topiary, or you can by one that is already shaped. The latter option does require that you prune to maintain the shape if you want to keep it looking neat and tidy.

What makes a rosemary a good plant for topiary is the fact that it is a woody plant with dense growth. You can plant your topiary right in the garden if you have the right climate for rosemary, but it is more commonly grown in a pot. Start with good quality potting soil that has vermiculite or peat moss to keep it loose. Make sure you choose a pot that is big enough for the plant you’ll be shaping.

Rosemary is a Mediterranean native, used to dry and hot conditions. Depending on your climate, you may be able to leave your potted topiary outside at certain times of the year, but most likely you’ll need to bring it in for the winter at least. When you do, give it a spot in a sunny window. Water regularly, but be sure the pot drains and never overwater rosemary.

How to Shape a Rosemary Plant

Topiary is an art and a science, but with practice and a few rosemary topiary tips, you can make a beautifully shaped plant. Popular shapes for rosemary include a cone, like a Christmas tree, and a sphere. More complicated shapes can be attained using wire frames for support and training, but if you’re a beginner, a cone or sphere is easier. Pruning rosemary into topiaries requires some patience and time, but anyone can do it.

If your rosemary plant is still fairly small, start by trimming off lateral shoots regularly. This will encourage the plant to grow upright. You want a foot or two (0.5 m.) of height to have a good plant to shape. Once your plant is the size you want it to be, and tall enough for the shape you have planned, simply prune it into shape.

Rosemary withstands a lot of pruning, so don’t be afraid to clip away. Just avoid pruning while it’s flowering. Once you have the right shape, trim regularly to maintain it and to promote full, bushy growth.

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Shapes Of A Topiary

A topiary is a plant that has been sheared into any desired shape.

The name Topia originated in ancient Rome where ornamental gardens were tended by slaves, known as Topiari.

Topiaries can be found in a limitless range of shapes, they can be purchased already formed or you can create them yourself. Some topiary shapes are: triangles, cubes, spirals, spheres, tiered globes and even small animals and birds.

Rosemary Growing Conditions

The Rosemary plant prefers warm and dry climates but is forgiving and will grow anywhere in zones 8 to 10. It likes light, alkaline soils that drain well. In cold climates, rosemary can be treated as an annual, or grown indoors or in a greenhouse. To grow Rosemary indoors as a houseplant, it would be best to place in a bright window or under a plant light. Mist the plant often and water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. A cool, well-ventilated spot is best. Harvesting the tips of the branches will encourage bushier growth.

Rosemary Uses

Rosemary the herb, grown in the garden can make a beautiful edging and is very suitable in a rock garden. The trailing form is excellent in containers, on slopes or hanging over a wall. Planting alongside other herbs, in an herb or kitchen garden. Rosemary can be pruned into topiary shapes, such as standards or pyramids. The flowers attract bees and other beneficial pollinators.

How to Prune Rosemary

Last Updated: March 26, 2021 References

This article was co-authored by Steve Masley. Steve Masley has been designing and maintaining organic vegetable gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years. He is a Organic Gardening Consultant and Founder of Grow-It-Organically, a website that teaches clients and students the ins and outs of organic vegetable gardening. In 2007 and 2008, Steve taught the Local Sustainable Agriculture Field Practicum at Stanford University.

There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Rosemary can make a great addition to any herb garden, but it does require a little bit of pruning to grow properly and look its best. Each year in early spring, trim 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) from the long, leaf-covered stems on the outermost part of the plant. Remove dead wood and criss-crossing branches to reduce the size of overgrown shrubs, being careful not to cut back more than a third of the plant’s overall growth at one time. Don’t forget to save your fresh rosemary clippings when you’re done!

How To Harvest Your Rosemary

If you wish to harvest your rosemary for some sprigs for your Sunday roast, the best time to do this is just before it flowers, as this is when the flavour of the rosemary will be at its peak. If you also plan to dry some rosemary this is also the best time to so.

When trimming look for stems that are at 8 inches (20cm) in length, and do not take cuttings from newly grown stems.

Cut sprigs off that are around two inches long, making sure you don’t cut too close and always leave some foliage on the stems.

To ensure you always have enough mature stems to clip, it is a good idea to keep more than one plant in the garden. Two or three should be more than adequate for most households.

Never harvest more than a 1/4 of your rosemary bush at a time. Leaving at least 3/4 of your plant will ensure that it continues to thrive and produce new sprigs.

When drying your cuttings, tie them together in evenly sized sprigs and hang them in a dark, dry and well-ventilated part of your house.

After around ten days your rosemary should be completely dry and ready to take down to strip off the leaves and store in a jar or an airtight container.

Also if you cut sprigs for harvest while your plant is in bloom, you can use the flowers for cooking as well, as apparently, they are edible as well.

How do you grow rosemary topiary?

Indoors, rosemary should be kept in full sun. Rotating your plant weekly when kept inside will ensure that all sides of the plant are getting sunlight. Once you are done enjoying your holiday topiary inside, your rosemary can be planted outside in an area with full sun and good drainage.

Furthermore, how do you grow standard rosemary? Just give your rosemary plants the three things below and they should thrive.

  1. 1 - Decent drainage. Rosemaries need a very well-drained site.
  2. 2 - Proper pH. Rosemary prefers a slightly chalky soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
  3. 3 - Sun, sun, sun. Coming from the Mediterranean rosemary is a real sun-worshipper!

Keeping this in view, how do you grow a topiary?


  1. If planting bare root plants into the ground, soak the roots in water for 10 to 15 minutes before planting. Ridging up the soil in a circle two feet from the base of a shrub helps concentrate water around its roots.
  2. When planting topiary frames with a face, plant the face first.

A rosemary topiary is simply a shaped rosemary plant. You can plant your topiary right in the garden if you have the right climate for rosemary, but it is more commonly grown in a pot. Start with good quality potting soil that has vermiculite or peat moss to keep it loose.

Watch the video: Rosemary - Trim December 2; Potted Cuttings November 1