Quick Gardening Tip – How To Prune Basil

Basil pesto here I come…

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my husband had planted our little vegetable and fruit garden.

While he was handling the kale and cucumbers, I was put in charge of the potted herbs. I chose to plant basil, rosemary and dill – together in one pot. (This may have been short-sighted, seeing how quickly they are growing.)

My basil is actually already ready for some pruning/harvesting, so I did some Googling to figure out the best way to do this. In the past, I’ve always taken off those big fat leaves at the bottom, which resulted in a spindly tower of basil that quickly falls over on itself.

Not good.

That’s why I wanted to figure out the ‘right’ way to do it this year. Here’s what I learned:

The best way to pick your basil is from the top, right above a pair of leaves – leaving all those fat, juicy leaves at the bottom to keep doing their thing – helping the plant grow bigger.

(I tried to take a picture of this, but it is really hard to hold the stalk and shoot the pictures – so forgive me for the blurriness.)

If you look under those bigger, ready-to-prune leaves, you will actually notice teeny tiny little leaves – that’s because this is the spot where new growth happens.

It’s also important NOT to let your herbs – basil and otherwise – flower. Once they have, your crop is done for the season, as the leaves will become bitter. When you see a flower bud starting to form, just pinch it right off.

And one last tip – water those herbs daily. I am a lazy waterer – and it wrecks havoc on my poor herbs. It’s much better to give them a bit each day, than to drench them once a week. (Advice that’s as much for me as it is for you!)


  1. Great tip! I have the same problem as you did, year after year. Wobbly basil plants that can’t hold their own weight.

  2. Shimshie says

    I’m no Rabbi, but you may want to ask your LOR about possible Kilayim there… If it is, you wouldn’t be able to use it…

  3. Last year, I made self-watering containers, being a pretty lazy waterer myself. I made them from 5 gallon buckets, and grew tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. out of them. Even a few watermelons! (Which the squirrels seemed to enjoy immensely.)

    Anyhow, i’m pretty sure that herbs don’t need a very big container, so you should be able to get a smaller, inexpensive self-watering container from any big box store.

  4. There are several ways to make them, and a lot of websites with videos and pictures, explaining really well. (I just tried to explain with just words, and failed miserably! So I’m just going to refer you to google. Try “DIY earthbox” or “self watering container.”) Good luck!

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