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Cut Basil Correctly – Harvest and Care For it

Professional pruning of basil serves both the harvest and the care. Stop wondering when, how much and how. We have put together for you what you should pay attention to when pruning basil.

Cut boldly – ​​instead of timidly plucking

Basil scores naturally with remarkable vigour. Knowledgeable hobby gardeners use this attribute to promote a bushy habit by selectively cutting back during the harvest. Hesitantly plucking individual leaves has a counterproductive effect, because bare shoots die off and weaken the entire royal herb.

Therefore, proceed as follows when cutting offshoots for harvesting:

  • always trim shoot tips to a minimum length of 5 centimeters (2 inches)
  • Don’t break off a sprig of basil, but cut it off with scissors or a knife
  • start the cut 1-2 millimeters above a pair of leaves to initiate branching
  • cut back a complete shoot so that at least one pair of eyes remains
  • Always use freshly sharpened tools that have been disinfected with alcohol

If you cut basil correctly using this procedure, there is no issue against picking individual leaves as a healthy herbal snack. In this case, pick out a dark green leaf, because the aroma content is particularly high here.

Cut off flowers in time for a long herbal enjoyment

Experienced hobby gardeners not only use scissors when basil is to be harvested. Targeted pruning also serves as prudent care so that the herbal plant remains vital and healthy for a long time. Once basil flowers, the plant stops growing and the leaves take on a bitter taste.

How to prevent premature death through targeted pruning:

  • from June to September regularly cut back the shoot tips by 5 centimeters (2 inches)
  • consistently cut off all branches on which buds are formed

If clippings are not used immediately in the kitchen, they are ideal for drying or pickling. You can also preserve any harvest surplus by freezing portions in ice cube trays.

Cut basil correctly in winter 

If you cultivate a perennial basil variety or overwinter the plant indoors, the cut is reduced to the harvest. From October, the herbal plant no longer strives for flowering but reduces growth to a minimum.

In the cold season, therefore, a more restrained pruning is recommended.


Did you Know? Basil flowers are edible. Simply allow your basil to bloom and enjoy the enchanting blossoms for many weeks. If you cut off the flowers, they serve as a delicious decoration on salads and hot dishes. If the taste is too tart, simply pickle the flowers in vinegar.

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