How to Cut Basil Off the Plant


Basil is a culinary herb from the mint family. Sweet basil grows about 2 feet high, while the bush basil is more compact with a greater number of branches. Basil is used to flavor foods such as spaghetti, stuffing, salads, meats, fish, eggs, cheese and poultry. Fresh or cured leaves can be used to season foods.

Step 1

Pinch off the tops of the plant with your fingers when the plant is around 5 to 6 inches tall. This will encourage the plant to bush out.

Step 2

Schedule the harvesting of the basil for drying before the flower opens. If you don't intend to dry the basil leaves, it can be cut at any time.

Step 3

Wipe the blades of your kitchen scissors with rubbing alcohol to sanitize.

Step 4

Cut off as much of the top of the plant as you wish to harvest, leaving at least the bottom 6 inches of the plant undisturbed.

Step 5

Strip the leaves from the stems you've removed if you intend to use them as seasoning. Discard the stems.

Things You'll Need

  • Kitchen scissors
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towel


  • "How to Grow Herbs"; Editors of Sunset Books and Magazines; 1975
  • "Herbs"; James Crockett; 1977
Keywords: harvesting basil, cutting basil, growing basil

About this Author

Ann Johnson was the editor of a community magazine in Southern California for more than 10 years and was an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelors of Art degree in communications from California State University of Fullerton. Today she is a freelance writer and photographer, and part owner of an Arizona real estate company.