How to Prune Basil


Hey guys! Today in this video I’m going to be showing you how to prune basil. There are really three reasons why you want to keep your basil plants pruned throughout the summer, and one is for the overall health of your plant, two is to keep the basil plants really productive and keep the leaves large, and three is to keep the flavor at its peak. If you don’t prune your basil plants they tend to want to grow really tall and they get spindly and the leaves that are produced are a lot smaller. And then they’ll start to bloom and once they start to bloom the flavor changes. It actually takes on kind of a bitter, more mild flavor which is not what we want. We want them to be flavorful and productive, so we keep them pruned. And pruning is really easy. I’m going to start with this pot right here. This is a lot younger basil than my other pot. I started with plants. I did not grow these from seed and in this pot right here every single stem in here is actually a separate basil plant. So it looks like it’s one big massive plant, but there’s a bunch of little plants in here. And if you get in close you can tell. Lots of little plants coming out. Each basil plant has a central stem and they’re really easy to identify. You can see right here. This is one basil plant and the central stem is just this big, long, tall one growing right up through the middle here. And basil grows with sets of leaves and they come out either side. So right here we have one set. There’s the second, third, fourth. There’s the fifth right here. And if you go all the way down to the bottom you can see this little tiny leaf that does not look like the rest of them, and that’s actually not a true leaf. That’s just the first leaf that emerges when the seed comes up, and so that set does not count. Usually you want to prune your basil when it’s at least six inches tall or has two to three sets of true leaves, and so these ones are a little bit further along than I would have liked. But I just picked these up and planted them, so it’s not too late. If your basil plants already growing you can still start pruning them back. Pruning them is super simple. I’m just going to take my clippers. You can use scissors. And I’m going to take it down actually past the fourth set of true leaves, right above this fifth set. And you can see right where this fifth set joins in with the central stem. There are two more branches that will form and that’s what we want to have happen. We want this one basil plant to turn into two and then as you keep pruning it, it’ll just turn into a bunch more. Right above the fifth set of true leaves, and I’m going to make an angled cut about a quarter-, half-inch above the leaves like so. I’ll show you one more time here how you do it. This is a nice a big one right here, so you can see we’ve got one, two, three, four, five sets of true leaves. I’m going to take it down right past this set of four. And I’m just going to cut about a quarter-inch, half-inch up. And you can see there’s another set of leaves coming out of either side and those will turn into two really nice big branches. Now all this basil that you prune off is totally usable. I’m going to take this inside and make something awesome. So, as you prune it throughout the summer which usually needs to be done like every one to two weeks, you can use all this basil or you can dry it, or make pesto and freeze it, whatever you want to do with it. So, just make sure to keep your eye on your plants every 1 to 2 weeks to do a pruning like this and make sure to do it all evenly. I know that it doesn’t look quite as pretty as it did before but soon this whole thing will just be huge and gorgeous. So it’s what you want to do. And a lot of people do this with peppers and tomatoes as well. I haven’t done it before but I think I’m going to give it a shot. So moving on to this pot of basil, you can see that this one’s been growing for a lot longer and it’s starting to bloom. And I let it do that on purpose so I could show you how to prune it back. It’s just basically the same way. You can see the bloom here. I’m going to actually take it all the way down past this set here because I want to create a nice mound. And I’m just going to prune it with my clippers exactly the same. About a quarter-inch up, angle cut, just like that. So whenever you see a bloom forming, in fact this is a good example: That one is not quite there yet. You can just pinch these off, just like that. So if you’re walking by and you don’t have your pruners just give them a quick pinch. And pinch those blooms off. You do not want those to start forming. So I’m going to do that, but these stems that have already formed blooms are a little bit thicker so I’m going to use my pruners on these ones. Now in between your weekly or bi-weekly pruning on your basil plants you can go ahead and harvest off of them any time. I just make sure that when I’m doing it I do it kind of evenly. I don’t take them all off of one side. I’ll take, you know, one, two, and three little branches off to use in the kitchen, so it looks kind of more uniform, keeps the plant growing a lot more, I don’t know, pretty. It looks healthier or something when it’s not lopsided. So this one’s almost done. All right, it’s looking really good. So a quick recap: You want to make sure your basil plants are at least 6 inches tall or have two to three sets of true leaves before you start to prune. When you do your pruning make sure to leave a quarter- to a half-inch of branch to help support the new branches that are going to form. And you want to check on your basil plant every one to two weeks to do a pruning like this. And if you see it start to bloom, or start to set blooms, make sure to pinch or prune them off. And that’s it. Pretty easy. All right, thanks for watching. If you found this video helpful, please leave a thumbs up. Don’t leave a thumbs down! I’ll be really sad leave a thumbs up down below and make sure to subscribe to our channel if you want to see what’s coming up next. We’ll see you in the next one. Bye

100 thoughts on “How to Prune Basil

  1. Can you make a video on how to water herbs, such as basil, parsley, cilantro etc..How do you know if its too much or too little water?

  2. YASSSS! Thank you for showing so detailed where to cut! There are so many sources out there that just say you need to do this but not a detailed explanation of how to do so. I also appreciate you explaining how the plant grows because this helps me understand why I'm doing what I'm doing. This makes me happy ^u^!

  3. Great smile love😄
    After basil blooms and you cut them back is the taste of new leaves still going to be different?

  4. Thank you so much !!! As you can see I’m Italian and use lots and lots of Basil. Appreciate your video very much.

  5. How informative! I’ve grown basil for years, and never knew how to prune it. I used the “guess this is good” approach, but you’ve made it clear.

  6. Hey. Idk if you get the new comments in 2019, but I'm wondering why you didn't thin some of the plants out? That would make sense to me…

  7. Love your videos! So helpful I’ve been wondering why I can’t seem to get my basil right. This was very helpful and you’re adorable! Had me literally lol’ing at the end.

  8. Here's another tip. When I prune my basil, I cut the bottom leaves off of the cutting then I place the stem in a glass of water on the counter top. You never want leaves in the water. I put it near a window and near where I cook. I can harvest basil right from my counter top. It lasts quite long.

  9. Thank you very much for the video! May I ask how I know when not to prune my basil so it grows nice and full like your older plant?

  10. Great👍 funny tho in Uk we pronounce Basil but in US Baysel? Also oregano Uk but in US or reg eno.😂

  11. Hello!
    Thank you.
    But i am a bit confused..
    Can you please write what you mean? Do you mean i need to count 5 big leaves and than to cut it?
    Sorry..just confused

  12. I grow a lot in my garden and harveat to sell at a local pizzeria. I usual grab it with my hand and chop it in half. It always comes back and ready for more the next week! Love the stuff!

  13. I stumbled on this video, but I’m glad I did. No click bait, not drama, no superfluous stories of the fist time you ate basil as a kid, etc. It was PERFECT! Clear, concise, informative..and it made me smile at the end. Really though – we’ll done! Time to subscribe.

  14. Great job! Just watched one that was hard to watch…guy took forever to get to any info. This was wayyyy better. Thanks!

  15. Shuhrat Tishi, I felt the same way…why dislike? People are mean…period! I thought this was well done and gave me a quick easy reference..I'll subscribe!

  16. I have tried to grow basil for 6 years now and every single time, I get early flowering and the plant begins to lose it's flavor.
    I have pruned my plants exactly as this video demonstrates and it still happens.
    Any ideas?

  17. Just subscribed today. I knew you needed to prune basil back to keep it tidy, but I did not know that having blooms/bud changed the flavor. Thanks for an informative video.

  18. This is great , I've been doing it all wrong, I usually pull the ones off the bottom because they seem to discolor , Thank you !

  19. I really appreciate this video. You're very straightforward, knowledgeable, and the video is very clear and I was able to actually see everything that you did.
    Thank you.

  20. I remember watching this video last year. My basil this year got hit by the cold and did not fair so well. I went to the garden center and found a leggy basil plant and said… I will just watch Laura pruning again and it should be fine!

  21. i have a basil that went rouge and now looks more like a spindly Halloween skeleton. the funny thing is at the tips of the spines its producing some very tasty leaves. however im wondering if i can prune it back to a more manageable size/shape with ought killing it. i would rather let it stay rough and set seed than risk killing it for the sake of better leaves.
    any advice on this you can give will be greatly appreciated

  22. Ive come here every year since you posted this video.
    I seem to forget all the Basil Pruning rules after a Canadian winter.

    Thanks for this short but informative video

  23. Thanks! Been in the basil killing business for years. Lol! Now I know!!! Btw, many folks hit the dislike button by accident and never know it happened.

  24. Hello. Thank you for this video! It has helped me so much! But I have 2 questions that remain…

    1) If it has already flowered, what then?
    2) I've heard that if the stems get woody then the plants flavor changes. Is that true and what do I do if that happens? I have read that it's possible to grow new plants from cuttings but could I do this in this case or should I just start from scratch??

  25. Thanks! Two weeks ago, I bought a basil plant on a whim while shopping for tomatoes at a vegetable stand. (It was about the same price as the packaged herbs in the grocery store.) unknowingly, I was just picking leaves off it as I was preparing meals and it is not doing well. Now I know better. I’ll get it properly planted and start harvesting the leaves weekly. Yay, Garden Answer!

  26. my young basil plants are always so dark green with big roundish leaves. The older plants tend to get kind of yellowish with pointy leaves. Even if I prune it does this. How can I prevent it?

  27. Thanks for the tips! I was looking for how far down to prune the new spindly plants and you nailed it. Guess I'll take the whole pot down.

  28. Thanks! You're so informative and keep the info short and sweet. I found this video to be exactly what I like when looking for gardening advice, so much so that I subscribed and am leaving a comment (which I almost never do!) thank you again so much! Just one question: can you still use the basil leaves from the stalks that have bloomed after you cut them? I'm assuming yes but just curious if they aren't good anymore once they have bloomed? Thank You!

  29. Ack! Earlier today I was admiring the pretty basil blooms bc I’ve never seen them before (it’s my first time growing basil), but now I’ll have to snip them all off tomorrow! I might also taste them to see how the flavour changed lol. Thank you for the video, it was super helpful!!

  30. Thanks! Great, simple, easy to understand. Wish I knew about this sooner. My basil was too bitter to salvage this summer.

  31. Don't be "sad" about thumbs-downs. It has nothing to do with you, or your video.
    Thanks for the great tutorial and I hope to see more!

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