I’m sure you’ve heard a million times to pinch the flowers off the basil plant. NO!!!!!!! Stop! Never “pinch” a basil plant, especially not with your hands. All you’re doing is causing the plant to become tall and spindly and get smaller and smaller leaves.
That said, here is the correct way to harvest your basil.
- Wait until your plant is nice and big before you start picking it. If you pick it too soon, it will never recover. You must have a nice, sturdy plant before you pick it.
- Always use scissors or garden snips to pick your plant. Cut straight across, never on an angle. Don’t pick it with your hands!!
- Find a spot on the basil plant where the main stem meets a “v” with two other stems. Cut above the two stems. Never just cut leaves off, or branches not at a “v.” If you just start grabbing leaves off it, you’ll wreck it.
- Don’t cut just the flowers off. Cut lower on the stem so the plant bushes out and grows more leaves.
- If your plant has dried out or been stressed in the past, it may never recover. You might just want to buy a new plant and start again.
Here are some photos of the correct way to harvest basil. Click on any of them for an enlargement.
See the “v?” Cut above it and the two shoots will become nice big stems.
Note how you should use a snips, never your fingers.
Note how the two side stems grew into main stems and you can cut them next time, at a “v” higher up (not shown).
If your plant starts to flower, cut low on the plant. Don’t just cut the flower off!! In fact, I would count down to the second “v” and cut there, not at the top one that you see in the picture.
Your basil can get really huge. Our plants are well over three feet tall, and super bushy. If you click on the photo, you will get a close up and can see all the places I cut it before I cut most of the plant off, leaving just the bottom two stems.