How to Trim Herb Plants & Basil


Herbs are an easy garden plant to keep, as their care is so simple and harvesting is almost constant. Herbs are harvested for their scent and their taste. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, herbs require an area where they get 6 to 8 hours of light per day in a well-drained soil. Fertilization with a 5-10-5 fertilizer is required once per season, at 3 oz. per 10 feet of row. Harvesting is required to keep basil and other herbs healthy and growing well.

Step 1

Harvest herb plants and basil in the morning once the dew has dried, to ensure that the essential oils of the herb are at their highest consistency.

Step 2

Cut the plant above the the first joint of a tender growth of leaf, not woody growth. Woody growth takes longer to recover and does not taste very good when cooking.

Step 3

Remove basil and other herbs just above a set of new leaves if a whole stalk of plant is needed. New growth will appear at the cut point.

Step 4

Prune whenever new shoots have produced new leaves. Waiting too long to prune, or not pruning enough, causes woody growth, the plant to seed, and in the case of basil, causes the plant to flower.

Step 5

Let one plant go to flower, and cut the seed heads once they turn from green to brown or gray, if you are interested in planting seed the next season.

Things You'll Need

  • Herb garden
  • Sharp scissors


  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Herb Harvesting
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Growing Basil
  • University of Illinois Extension: A Taste of Gardening
Keywords: herb plants, trimming herbs, herb plant care

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.