Cut boldly - instead of timidly plucking
Basil scores naturally with its remarkable vigor. Knowledgeable hobby gardeners use this attribute to promote a bushy habitus through targeted pruning during harvest. Hesitant plucking of individual leaves is counterproductive, because bald shoots die off and weaken the entire royal herb. Therefore, when cutting off shoots for harvest, proceed as follows:
- always prune the shoot tips to a minimum length of 5 centimeters
- Do not break off a sprig of basil, but cut it off with scissors or a knife
- Make the cut 1-2 millimeters above a pair of leaves to initiate branching
- cut back a complete shoot so that at least one pair of eyes remains
- Always use freshly sharpened tools that have been disinfected with alcohol
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If you cut a royal herb correctly using this procedure, there is nothing against picking individual leaves as a healthy herb snack. In this case, pick out a dark green leaf, because the aroma content is particularly high here.
Cut off the flowers in good time for a long herbal enjoyment
Experienced hobby gardeners do not only use scissors when basil needs to be harvested. Targeted pruning also ensures careful care so that the herbal plant remains vital and healthy for a long time. As soon as royal herb blooms, the plant stops growing and the leaves take on a bitter taste. How to prevent premature death through targeted pruning:
- Regularly cut back the shoot tips by 5 centimeters from June to September
- consistently cut off all branches on which buds form
If clippings are not immediately used in the kitchen, they are ideal for drying or pickling. You can also preserve any excess harvest by freezing it in portions in ice cube trays.
Cut basil properly in winter - this is how it works
If you cultivate a perennial basil variety or overwinter the plant indoors, the pruning is reduced to the harvest. From October onwards, the herbal plant no longer strives for flower formation, but reduces growth to a minimum. In the cold season of the year, therefore, a rather cautious pruning is recommended. Nevertheless, the motto also applies in winter that prudent hobby gardeners always cut off entire shoots.
Tips & Tricks
Already knew? Basil flowers are edible. Just allow your royal herb to bloom once and enjoy the enchanting flower flora for many weeks. Cut off the flowers and serve as a delicious decoration on salads and hot dishes. If the taste is too bitter for you, simply soak the flowers in vinegar.