How to Prune Basil Plants


Basil is an easy herb to grow in the home garden or as a container plant. The most popular basil plants grown are sweet basil plants (Ocimum basilicum), which are commonly sold in nurseries as small established plants. Basil plants are planted in the spring after the final frost, and like many other plants, they will grow thicker after they are pruned. Therefore, properly pruning your basil plants will yield a higher harvest rate.

Step 1

Pinch off flowers with your finger and thumb. Basil tastes bitter if it is allowed to flower.

Step 2

Harvest green basil leaves from spring until fall whenever you want. Harvest by pruning the desired amount about a quarter-inch above a leaf node. Use hand clippers.

Step 3

Prune basil heavily with hand clippers to about a quarter-inch above the second set of leaf nodes from the bottom. Pruning will stimulate fuller, bushy growth. Repeat this heavy pruning every two to three weeks, at a minimum.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand clippers


  • Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Growing, Selecting And Using Basil
  • Fine Gardening: Basil Basics
Keywords: prune basil, harvest basil, grow basil

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.