If you love to grow and eat basil, check out these tips for pruning/harvesting to maximize the health and productivity of your basil plants.
In this article, we’ll explain some of the benefits of pruning and show you how to prune your own plants to get awesome results like this:
Here are some benefits of pruning basil plants:
- It encourages bushier, sturdier and more compact growth with more branching.
- Stimulates increased production for a heavier harvest.
- Increases the quality of your harvest. When you remove older top growth, the plant puts more energy into growing new leaves that are more tender, aromatic and flavourful.
- Makes the plant look better and more full of foliage.
- When you are done harvesting basil for the season and it goes to flower, there will be a lot more flower spikes on the plant. This means more food for bees, more beauty and more seeds if you will be harvesting them.
- You can save the pruned foliage for use in the kitchen, so it’s not extra work, you just have to be mindful of where you’re cutting the plant when harvesting.
Here’s an example of some Holy Basil (Tulsi) plants that we pruned and harvested with this method, the plants are only about 2 months old:
Let’s summarize the method with some pictures as a visual aid:
- Start with healthy plants that have been well watered and aren’t stressed.
- Use clean pruning shears or fingers to snip or pinch off the stem just above the leaf nodes, leaving the two side shoots.
- The first pruning is a cut of the main stem.
- Here is an unpruned Thai Basil plant, note the vertical growth:
- The first time we harvest, we’ll cut it here, just above the second or third set of leaves:
- The result (note the side shoots that were left in place):
- Next time we harvest, we’ll do the same thing to the side shoots, cutting off their main stem just above a leaf node, leaving the two side shoots to become new main stems.
- For best results, harvest regularly using this technique to encourage new growth and delay flowering.
That’s it! This super simple pruning/harvesting method will result in a higher quality basil plant.
Here’s an example of two basil plants that were planted at the same time. The one on the left was pruned, the one on the right was left unpruned:
The plant on the left is ready for its second harvest! Here’s the plant before the second harvest:
And here’s the harvest:
Be sure to check out the companion video to see some pruning in action! We also did a live video demonstration here.
We hope this method improves your basil growing experience. If this helps you out, we’d love to hear from you on social media, so be sure to tag us if you try it!