How to trim a basil plant

Written by diane steinbach Google
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How to trim a basil plant
Regular trimming keeps basil plants healthy. (robynmac/iStock/Getty Images)

Trimming a basil plant is vital if you want to harvest its leaves all summer long. As an annual plant, once the basil flowers and goes to seed, the plant will begin to thin and die off. Here's how to trim your basil plant and keep it producing all summer long.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Small scissors

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  1. 1

    Allow the basil plant to grow about 12.5 to 15 cm (5 to 6 inches) tall. A basil plant should grow this amount in around six weeks as long as it gets plenty of sunlight and is in well-drained soil. Plant basil in a raised garden or in a terracotta pot to maintain even moisture without sogginess.

  2. 2

    Leave at least four sets of leaves on the plant to continue strong growth. You don't want to trim your basil plant back to the stalk or base of the plant, but continuous pinching of stem leaves will encourage a full, thriving plant.

  3. 3

    Locate larger leaves to pinch off. Simply snip off larger leaves along the stalk or stem of your basil plant by pinching the leaves off between your thumb and index finger. New leaf bunches will form where you have pinched off, making your basil fuller and thicker.

  4. 4

    Pinch back from the flowering buds about five to six leaves below. This encourages fuller, more productive plants throughout the summer.

  5. 5

    Continue pinching back your basil all season long. Dry surplus basil by washing leaves and allowing them to air dry, or freeze your basil leaves. Wash, dry and finely chop your basil in a food processor. Toss with some olive oil and freeze in small containers to use in sauces and cooking all year long.

Tips and warnings

  • Root your shop-bought basil cuttings by simply placing the stems in water.
  • Move basil indoors in the autumn to keep harvesting fresh basil throughout the winter.
  • Don't let your basil plants get larger than 25 cm (10 inches) tall.

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