If you prune your basil plant correctly you will end up with a huge bushy plant that gives you lots of leaves and never goes to flower.
But how do you prune a basil plant correctly? Read on to find out.
The first stage of pruning basil is to top it.
This is a simple procedure where you snip out the main growing stem.
The main growing tip is where the majority of the growth hormone in the plant is stored.
By removing it, this growth hormone is sent down to other stems in the plant, which results in bushier growth.
And because we grow basil for the leaves, lots of bushy growth is just what we want.
You want to prune just above a leaf node, as this is where the plant will grow out from.
This also stops the plant from going to flower. This is because it is the main stem that will always flower first, so we have just reset the clock on flowering.
These razor-sharp long-nose snips are ideal for various jobs around the garden. I love using mine for pruning my tomato plants and harvesting them.
This is the top of the plant that I removed. While it might not look like a large harvest, I simultaneously do this to all of my basil plants.
This means I have a very usable harvest just from cutting the tops out.
This will be getting turned into a lovely homemade pesto later today!
Below is a basil plant that I have cut the main stem out of; let me show you what to do next using this plant as an example.
You can see another stem growing out on the left-hand side of the plant.
I will let this grow a little larger and cut out its main tip again.
The same principles apply; cut just above a leaf node and the plant will gain bush out from here.
If you keep cutting out these tips, you will end up with a lovely bushy plant that doesn’t flower, meaning lots and lots of fresh basil for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you prune basil plants in pots?
The same steps apply whether you are growing your plants in pots or in the ground.
Does basil regrow after cutting?
Yes, basil plants do regrow after cutting.
Pruning basil encourages new growth, resulting in a bushier and more productive plant. Ensure you leave at least 1-2 sets of leaves on the stem when pruning to allow for regrowth.
What is the proper way to store cut basil?
To store cut basil:
- Rinse the basil leaves gently under cool water and pat them dry with a clean towel.
- Place the basil in a glass jar or container with the stems submerged in water. Cover the leaves loosely with a plastic bag to aid in retaining moisture.
- Store the basil in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Replace the water every couple of days to keep the basil fresh.
What is the correct method for cutting basil for cooking?
To harvest basil for cooking:
- Identify healthy, mature leaves or stems that are at least 6 inches tall.
- Use clean, sharp scissors or herb shears to make a clean cut just above a set of leaves, leaving 1-2 sets of leaves on the stem for regrowth.
- Rinse and pat the leaves dry, then use them fresh in your recipe or store them as previously mentioned.
How much should you trim your basil plant?
When pruning your basil plant, aim to remove no more than two-thirds of the plant’s height at a time.
This promotes healthy growth and prevents damaging the plant. Prune regularly, focusing on pinching back the central stem and removing flower buds to encourage bushy growth and abundant leaves.
When To Start Pruning Basil?
I recommend starting when your plant is roughly 6″ tall; this is around the perfect time to start.