The Attack of the Rosemary Bush

Posted on: 7 September, 08

For the last six years, I blamed the extreme drought for our lack of landscaping.  The truth is I kill every plant I touch.  I have always taken a Darwinian approach to gardening.  Survival of the fittest.  I stick them in the ground.  After that, they are on their own.  We are not allowed to water very much due to the drought, so the plants are dependent on what falls from the sky.  The plants must also stand up to the deer who think my yard is their personal buffet.  Yes, we have tried the various sprays, but the deer just think of it as salad dressing.  The rabbits take care of the stuff close to the ground. 

About two years ago, I bought a teeny little rosemary plant.  I had the romantic notion of snipping bits of fresh rosemary for my cooking.  Well, I don’t like to cook and my family is not that crazy about rosemary.  I begged neighbors to take as much as they wanted.  Apparently, their families aren’t that fond of rosemary either. 

This summer was blistering hot and dry.  The bush has thrived on neglect.  I try to trim it back, but it just keeps growing and growing.  As you can see, I don’t have the time (nor the inclination) to pull the weeds around the bush, much less trim this beast back every week. 

My question to you, my dear readers, is how do I control this thing?  Can I move it without killing it or Hubski who will be the one digging and moving?  By cutting it back, am I encouraging it to just grow bigger?  Can I keep it from taking over the garden?  The neighborhood?  Is this typical of rosemary? 

It does smell awfully good.  I love to break off a piece and just inhale that sweet scent.

9 Responses to "The Attack of the Rosemary Bush"

Uh oh. With rosemary, the more you cut it back the bigger and bushier it gets. You can probably move it in the spring or the fall without a problem.

We have a rosemary bush and we clip sprigs and add them to the grill when we barbecue – it smells fantastic and imparts a subtle flavor to the chicken or steak.

Do you enjoy homemade bread? The recipe below is from a local restaurant and it’s fantastic – especially with melted swiss cheese on top.


1 tablespoon sugar
1 cake yeast
11/2 cups lukewarm water
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
chopped fresh rosemary
Olive oil and salt, as needed
Add sugar and yeast to lukewarm water and stir to dissolve yeast. Add flour, salt and onion. Knead until smooth.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down.

Flatten dough on oiled cookie sheet to about 1-inch thick. Oil the top of the dough.

Let rise until doubled in size.

Sprinkle with salt and fresh rosemary.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Reply to Leanna: So I have just been encouraging it grow by cutting it so much? eek! I shall add it to the plants that I neglect and see if it calms down a bit. šŸ™‚

The bread sounds yummy. Alas, I don’t bake bread. It involves too much chemistry and does not allow for much improvisation. I am a whimsical cook. I change ingredients and amounts based on whim. That has not been conducive to my previous bread making endeavors. šŸ™‚ However, I shall pass along the recipe to my friend who is a far better cook than I. Perhaps she will make it for me.

I had that same problem with catnip, but it ended up being spread through the yard. The problem we had with it is that is spreads on its own. Hubby smells it every so often when he mowed.

No advice for control, but I feel your pain about reining it in.

I’m not too familiar with rosemary, though I have lemon thyme overgrowing my path the the mailbox… but I don’t mind.
You could always see if there is a gardening group near you, or freecycle, or craigslist.
There are always gardeners near me looking for new plants, or herbs to cut for cooking.

They are pretty hardy, so I’d think you could move it without too much trouble.

Here in Australia you can make excellent hedges from them. Perhaps that would work for you too? You can create ‘baby rosemary plants’ easily. I think the correct term is layering. Basically you bend a bit of the bush down so that it is touching the ground, secure it there, and relatively quickly it will put down roots. You can then seperate the new plant from the mummy plant. I know that doesn’t help you control the big bush, but if you feel like turning it into a hedge ….

My hubby hacks our rosemary bush back regularly with a hedge trimmer. You can be quite brutal with it.

A thriving rosemary bush means that a strong(-willed) woman lives there. I’ve got one that could hide a Volkswagen–the more I clip it, the bigger it gets. If you are worried about the plant not surviving a move, you might root a cutting before moving it far from the house!

Hey Teri…….I once had a rosemary bush like yours when I lived in a warmer state. I just took the hedge trimmers to it when it got too bushy….just hacked the plant back to the size I wanted it.

In some climes, they grow rosemary as get out the electric hedge clippers and go at it! Just think of the possibilities… can make it square, or sculpt it into a cute bunny shape…or something….LOL!

Teri, I wished my rosemary grew like that but it doesn’t. I’m a little too far north to plant in the ground. Maybe you can find a friend who likes to cook or see if a nearby restaurant may be interested in fresh rosemary. Personally, my favorite recipe is to crush dried rosemary and then added to vegetables along with salt, pepper, and garlic. Then roast them. Good luck with your plant.

Oh Rosemary is wonderful! Yes, the more you clip it, the more it will grow. It does make a beautiful hedge, and can be shaped into so many wonderful designs. Does that get your blood flowing? I clip several sprigs and place them in my drawers or with my linens. Everything then smells nice, and it helps keep the moths away. Rosemary can be used with chicken, fish or in rice. Yum! Combine it with lemon juice and honey to marinate the chicken. This is so delicious.

[…] to do the work, but needs me to consult every step of the way.  We decided to transplant the monster rosemary bush.  That required deciding where to put in a new garden, the shape of the new garden, and […]

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