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I have an old rosemary bush that looks like a mini tree trunk where it leaves the soil. After years of pruning, it stands about four feet high and the green leaves appear from about one foot up from the soil.

How high up from the ground would it be safe to prune it without killing it or shortening its life? I'd like to clear it from the ground so that I can grow plants below it (that would then get some light) but would it be a good idea to have about 3 feet of plain 'trunk' before the green bush starts? Or would this lead to problems getting nutrients and water from the soil to the leaves?


There wouldn't be a problem with nutrients.


It would be like a lollipop standard bay tree 

What plants did you I tend to plant there Tomsk?  Deep cultivation would not be good idea.  I grow geranium Orion satisfactorily at bare base of a rosemary.  


Tomsk, I'm going to be cruel to a plant.

I'd get rid of it and plant a new one. 


KEF, I almost suggested that but I think Tomsk wants to keep it.  There are now some lovely dark blue flowered varieties that kick those old varieties into touch.

I have a rosemary like that in the middle of my herb garden and then I plant herbs round it.  Makes a nice feature, it seems to be shaped like a wind swept tree!  I guess it is only about 2ft tall with a foot of bare trunk though.


I would prune it a couple of inches above its lowest leaves, it should survive.  I have one in a similiar state and I'm going to start taking cuttings to make new plants as I've found the older it gets the more likely it is to snap, especially with the strong winds we've been having.


Thanks for the replies,

I don't want to get rid of it because it looks nice where it is, especially looking so mature and rustic.

I'm not sure exactly what I'd like to plant around it, but probably shorter bulbs like daffs, tulips and crocuses. Or maybe even a colourful 'carpet' of pansies grown from seeds or something.

I never thought about it snapping in the wind before. The trunk is pretty thick and it's never been bothered by the occasional gales I get. There was the storm a couple of weeks ago and the one in October, both of which blew over big heavy plant pots in other gardens and blew a few things over in mine, but the rosemary bush seemed to be unscathed. Though maybe they usually only live for a few years?

If ever I wanted to pull it up and start again, how would I go about growing a new bush from a cutting of the existing one? I assume I need to pull the root up and cut a piece of that out or something|?


In mid spring or in summer simply tear off some of the newer growth.....I like to get a heel.  I trim it back neatly and put into a 9cm pot of half perlite and half multi purpose compost.  I would take about 9.  Water in well.  Put in 3 thin sticks taller than the cuttings.  cover with polythene bag.  Put in warm spot out of direct sunlight.  After a couple of weeks or three remove poly bag.  They should root before summer's end.  

I would not plant another rosemary where the old one was.

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