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How To Pick Rosemary Without Killing The Plant

Rosemary is a perennial shrub that is known for its sweet, resinous flavor. Growing this plant is easy, but may throw all your efforts down the drain if you fail to harvest it properly.

So if you have been killing your rosemary in the garden during harvest, or you do not have prior experience with harvesting this shrub, then this page will take you through every step to ensure that you have a bountiful harvest while preserving the entire plant for the next harvest season.

One secret to harvesting any shrub rightly is to know exactly the right time to pluck them. So let us quickly look at when is right to harvest rosemary plant, especially for beginners. You’re also going to learn how to pick rosemary without killing the plant.

Let’s get started!

When is Rosemary Ready To Pick?


Rosemary grows most actively during the spring and summer – this is the best time to pluck them. Just like most shrubs, the more you harvest them, the more they will grow as long as it is still within the growing season.

Rosemary tolerates heavy harvesting when it’s done correctly, so there is no special sign to look for to ascertain its maturity. So long the leaves are green, healthy, and fresh.

It doesn’t matter the size of your rosemary, you just need to take as much as you require for your recipe, but should not be excessively cut beyond what will is required to grow again – we will discuss this more in this article.

Still, confused about when you can pick your rosemary plant?

Okay, this is the summary of it – harvest young stems and leaves anytime for the freshest taste.

But there is a little exception to these rules we have mentioned above.

This is it – If you are planning on drying the rosemary for preservation, wait until the bush begins to bloom to harvest. This period is when the leaves contain the most oil and flavor.

What Tools Do You Need To Harvest Rosemary?

Rosemary is a tiny plant with a tiny foliage stem that could be easily plucked with the hands. You hence do not need any special tools to harvest the plant except for a pair of shears or scissors.

How To Pick Rosemary Without Killing The Plant

How To Harvest Rosemary Without Killing It

We are back to the real deal of this article and why you are probably here, how to pick rosemary without killing the plant.

We have highlighted the procedures in the following steps.

Step 1

The first step will be to select the branches that have better potentials to preserve the flavor and oil for a long time especially if you will be drying them.

Select branches that are at least 8 inches long. Don’t harvest from new branches if you are harvesting in large quantities to store up.

 Step 2

After selecting branches that are at least 8 inches long, it is time to pick off the right portion. It is wrong to cut out the whole branch.

So you’d want to select the tip of the branches and cut out only 2 inches of each sprig with a pair of scissors or shears.

Be sure to leave some green leaves on each branch, and do not cut the plant too close.

Like we have earlier stated, this procedure is necessary when harvesting in bulk. However, if you only require a small quantity for quick use, you can cut a few quantities from the top parts of the sprigs. More importantly, don’t cut more rosemary than you need at once if you are not prepared to preserve.

Important Tips That Ensure You Don’t Kill The Plant

  • When harvesting rosemary, you want to ensure that it grows back the next season. To achieve this, the right practice is to leave at least ¾ of the plant. This ensures that it continues to thrive and produce new sprigs.
  • If you do not have an immediate use to harvest your rosemary plants, you should still prune them several times a year to encourage healthy growth.
  • Harvest the plants all through the spring and summer. Avoid harvesting them in late fall because it is close to winter. Do not harvest rosemary too close to winter because it will not grow back very fast. Bigger, fuller rosemary bushes can survive winter better.

Is It Okay To Allow Rosemary Plants To Bloom?

How To Pick Rosemary Without Killing The Plant

Most plants that flowers use a lot of energy and resources to produce these flowers. It is not necessary to allow plants bloom especially if they are not cultivated for that reason.

So rather than allowing the plant to spend most resources to produce flowers that you do not need, it is wise to stop them from reaching that stage so that these energies can be channeled to producing more leaves and foliage to meet the purpose of cultivation.

How To Preserve And Store Rosemary

Two methods can be used to store rosemary plants that ensure it remains valuable whenever it is needed.

It can either be stored dried or fresh depending on what resources are available and your preferred method.

These are the methods.

Tie the harvested rosemary sprigs together in little quantity and allow it to dry hanging. It should be allowed to dry naturally without any artificial inducement. It is best to allow it dry in a dark, well-ventilated, and dry area.

Allow it to dry for about 10 days. Takedown the rosemary when it is completely dry and store in an airtight container.

Dried rosemary will last forever, but it has the best flavor within a year.

Strip off the leaves and store the freshly harvested rosemary in an air-tight bag or container and place it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Rosemary leaves stored in the fridge will not retain its value for more than 2 weeks. On the other hand, frozen rosemary will last longer, but will not have a stronger flavor compared to one refrigerated.


Picking rosemary leaves rightly will ensure that you always have a fuller shrub every year. It is important to follow these procedures highlighted on this page.

The procedure and general practice of harvesting rosemary are different from other perennial shrubs. You’d want to ensure that you don’t over harvest the leaves. Rosemary plants with fuller bushes can survive winter better.