I’m sure a lot of you have felt the ultimate excitement of bringing home a basil plant for your kitchen, in hopes of harvesting a lot for future dishes! But did you ever experience growing basil seedlings and plants, only for them to turn tall, scraggly, woody, and/pr sparse? What’s worse, after harvesting a few leaves, they end up dying, unable to grow back to produce more yield.
You’re not alone! Many people experienced the same thing, and the reason behind this can be prevented. It all boils down to harvesting and maintaining your basil plants properly to ensure that it still grows back.
How do you do that, though? Read on!
How to Pick Basil So It Grows Back
Basil is a popular herb that cooks and gardeners like to grow, which is easy to do so in moist and well-drained soil. When given the right nutrients during the growing stage, it products an abundance of leaves. However, you will need to make sure you harvest them correctly to have them continue producing throughout its growing season.
If not harvested properly, it can hinder the basil leaves’ future growth and development, as well as the quality of the leaves it sprouts. How can you pick and harvest basil? Here are the different ways to harvest it:
Harvesting Basil Leaves Properly
The main thing to harvest is your basil leaves, which are the ones you’ll use for cooking! Here is the step-by-step procedure to successfully harvest them, making sure they’ll regrow well afterward:
1. Only harvest the leaves when the plant grows between 6-8 inches tall. You can measure the height while watering the plant, so you know how much it has grown. You can begin harvesting leaves when the tallest part of your basil plant reaches six inches, but never let it exceed eight inches before trimming it.
2. When the basil plant is grown, pick off the leaves whenever needed. Remove leaves from every section of your plant without cutting its stems. This will help your basil plant grow more. I recommend harvesting leaves starting from the top, so you get bushier and fuller basil plants in the future. When you harvest the bottom leaves first, it leads to lanky and thin plants, so it won’t be as healthy.
3. As you harvest the leaves, be sure to pinch them off at the stem, avoiding to tear or damage the stems the leaves are attached to. Pinch the basil leaves by their base, where it meets the stem, then gently pull the leaf from the stem. Or, you can also cut the leaves with a small pair of scissors, making sure you don’t cut the stem when doing so.
4. And you’re done!
Harvesting Stems and Pruning the Basil Plant
Some people also harvest the stems, which can help result in bushier plants for more leaves to harvest. These are the steps to follow:
1. Trim your basil plant from the top down when removing stems, which is the most full part of your basil plant, since you’re removing most of it. Leave smaller shoots under so it continues to grow. When doing larger-scale harvesting (done every few weeks), remove about 1/3 or more of your basil plant’s height.
You can remove the stems with small scissors and begin harvesting the plant when it begins flowering, as this can encourage new growth.
2. When cutting the full stems of the basil plant, cut it as close as possible to the leaf node’s top, which are the points of the plant where the side shoots sprout. Cut the stems around ¼ inch above the point to avoid restricting plant growth. When cutting above the node, the plant divides into two, so it grows bushier and in fuller form.
3. Next, pinch the tips off the plant’s branches and side shoots while watering or picking leaves off. This helps with healthier growth, allowing the plant to fill out.
4. You can use a hand pruner when harvesting fully-grown outdoor plants, cutting through the plant’s base easily.
Extra Tips on Harvesting Basil
Other than the methods mentioned above, here are more tips you can use when harvesting and caring for basil to ensure they regrow:
- Cut off any flower blossoms for the basil plants to continue growing well. You can use these flower buds as garnish or decoration
- Basil leaves are sensitive and bruise easily, so make sure you handle the plants gently, whether pruning, harvesting, or tending to the plant
- When harvesting small amounts, don’t cut off the whole stem. Instead, periodically pinch off branch tips for the plant to fill out
- When harvesting larger amounts, you can harvest the stems as well, harvesting the leaves from the top to bottom and cutting up to a third of the basil plant’s total height. Just make sure that you cut or pinch above your leaf instead of leaving stubs.
- When harvesting before the first frost, cut all the stems to the ground, picking off all the basil leaves. Add the cut stems to the compost pile
Do you want to learn more about how to properly grow and harvest basil for it to continue growing yummy leaves? Check out this informative video:
Wrapping It Up
Basil is one of the most common herbs people grow, thanks to how easy it is to maintain and how versatile it is to use in dishes. With that in mind, you still need to make sure to prune and pick basil leaves properly to make sure that it continues growing for more basil to use in the long run. As long as you maintain the grown plant well, you can enjoy years of adding fresh basil to your dishes or to improve the room’s scent!
I hope that this article on how to pick basil so it grows helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and begin harvesting your basil properly for better growth!