How to Prune a Basil Plant


Basil is one of the most popular herbs to grow at home, whether it is for culinary, aesthetic or medicinal purposes. This perennial herb (the most common varieties are Thai and sweet) can thrive indoors or outdoors, easily growing into bushy bunches. In order to keep your basil plant producing, you must prune it regularly for its growth.

Step 1

Wait until the basil plant is about six inches tall before you prune it. The more pruning occurs, the more bushy and healthy it will become. Always cut off any flowers that grow so it doesn't affect the herb's flavor.

Step 2

Pinch basil leaves from the top of the plant every couple of weeks to encourage healthy growth.

Step 3

Prune the plant when it becomes bushy enough to take over its pot, or when it appears overgrown. You can either use the leaves right away or freeze them.

Step 4

Prune the basil plant by cutting three inches up from the bottom, leaving a few inches of leaves left on the plant. You will need to do this every month or so.

Step 5

Continue to pinch basil leaves off the top of the plant after pruning. Pinching leaves periodically is a good habit to start in order to promote healthy growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning scissors


  • FineGardening: Basil Basics
  • Herb Society: Basil
  • KalynsKitchen: Freezing Basil
Keywords: basil care, pruning basil, harvesting basil

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.