When To Prune Basil For The First Time

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Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by

Do you know when to prune basil for the first time?  With proper pruning techniques, this plant can give enough leaves for a long time.

When the word basil is mentioned, many people visualize the sumptuous pizza, fresh summer salads, or the luxurious pesto.

Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world, grown in almost every home.  It is easy to grow and doubles up as an ornamental plant and herb.

This plant doesn’t need lots of watering, sunlight, and basic nutrients to grow into a tall, strong plant. The one most efficient care this plant need is pruning.  The key is to know the right time to prune it because – cut it too early and you could slow down its growth or cut it too late, and it will have already overgrown.

Let’s learn how to grow this herb and prune it at the right time.

Growing Basil

When you are ready to grow your own basil, you have 2 options. You can either sow your own seeds and plant them directly or buy transplants. We recommend starting from seed in the spring or summer season.

Growing Basil

Basil Seedlings

Once you sow your seeds, wait for about 7 to 14 days for your seedlings to emerge from the soil.

You can transplant your seedlings a week to 2 weeks after germination.  After transplanting, the growth of the plants is almost rapid.

Prune Basil For The First Time

This is a crucial step in the life of basil! Wait until the herb is about 6 inches tall before trimming the leaves.   The stem should have at least 2 or 3 sets of leaves.  The plant can take about 2 weeks to reach this stage from transplanting.

Now let’s get ready for the trimming.

When pruning, cut off the central stem and allow the plant to split off and grow two central stems.  This splitting doubles the number of leaves and stems, and they grow wild very.

If you keep your plant healthy, you will have so much basil that you can store and give to friends.

Pruning your basil for the first time is how you get to eat pesto three times a week because the produce is plenty.  Did you know you can plant the stem you just pruned to make a new plant?

Do not prune too soon, or the plant will not receive enough energy.  The more often you prune this plant, the bushier and leafier it grows.

If you don’t prune your basil, it will grow tall, slim, and begin bolting, so prune to keep it flavorful and healthy.

Prune Basil For The 2nd Time

On the first stem, leave 2 or 3 leaves ad cut down the last leaves after the previous cut.

The process is the same from here onwards. Once the plant has had enough time to grow, harvest again; keep following the pruning process on new leaves to give them a chance to provide you with lots of basil to harvest from each new shoot.

Prune Basil On-Time – The Right Process

What do you require?

  • A basil plant
  • Pruning clippers or a sharp pair of scissors

Trimming a basil plant takes only about 15 minutes, but a critical thing to keep in mind.

Treat your basil plant with care because they are easily damaged.  When damaged, it starts to release essential oils, which holds their aroma and flavor together.  If you damage your leaves, too much you could get some bland-tasting pesto.

Be sure to count up to 2 or 3 sets of leaves to help give your plant a solid foundation to help it grow strong.

After you’ve chosen the set of leaves, cut off with a single cut to ensure you don’t damage the plant.  That’s why your clippers or scissors should be very sharp.

gonicc 8″ Professional Premium Titanium Bypass Pruning Shears

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Do You Know How To Cut Basil?

Cut the central stem, about a ¼ of an inch above the little branches. This will kill off the central stem and allow the plant to start growing from the side leaves.

You will have 2 central stems coming off from where the main stem was.  Leave these stems to grow for 1 or 2 weeks until they have a couple of leaves grown.

Basil Active Growth And Flowering

Basil produces foliage at a swift pace. It starts with multiple leaves growing from their stems and the basil plants growing as tall as 24-inches in a season.

You start harvesting after 7-8 weeks.

The growth habit of Basil starts from a single stem. When pruned, this single central stem branches out into multiple sides stems.

The basil plant produces flower buds that are white and purple. Basil flowers grow within the first year. During the flowering stage, the branches and stems of the basil turn woody as they mature.

Basil Active Growth And Flowering

Keep In Mind

You will need to look out for bolting in your basil plant as soon as you pinch them right away. When a basil plant begins to bolt, it’s ready to flower-sending the available nutrients to the flower and not to the leaves.  If your plant does this too early, you will not enjoy a good harvest of basil.  It would be best if you stopped it as early as possible.


What happens if you dont prune basil?

It should be fine, but it depends on the variety. I've had basil that was okay with no pruning, and others that were completely dead after a month or two without any pruning. Sometimes, it will start to flower out and go to seed before it gets too big.

How do you prune basil so it grows forever?

To ensure that you get the most out of your garden, plan ahead for when you're going to prune your basil. The first step is to decide if you want to do this project during the growing season or when the plants are dormant. If you're going to do it in the growing season, it's best to do it while the plants are actively growing and the weather is mild.

The best time to do this is during the summer months, as basil can take a few days to recover from being cut back. Once you've decided whether or not to prune in the summertime, make sure you have the right tools and supplies. While there are many different types of pruning shears available, we recommend purchasing a pair of clippers for the job. These tools allow you to trim the plants back by hand instead of with a sharp blade that can cause damage.  The first step is to prune off all stems that are growing out of the plant. The easiest way to do this is to use your hand to feel the plant and gently pull off any stems that are growing out. You can also use a pair of clippers to remove any stems that are sticking out from the main plant.

While it may seem counterintuitive, it's actually best to cut the top third of the plant down so that the plant is more compact and easier to care for. This will also encourage the plant to grow faster, which is beneficial if you're looking to harvest the leaves soon. The next step is to trim the leaves back. Using your clippers, make sure that you're cutting back the entire leaf and not just the tip of the leaf. You want to leave at least half of the leaf attached to the stem. Basil is a great plant for attracting beneficial insects and pollinating other flowers. As a result, it can produce a lot of flowers on a single plant. If you don't want these flowers and fruit to be there, you can prune them off now. In most cases, you'll only need to prune the flowers off once the fruit starts to form.

How do I make my basil plant bushier?

To encourage your basil plant to grow taller, you need to ensure that it receives enough nutrients from its soil.

You can achieve this by adding fertilizer to the soil around your basil plants, and water regularly. You should also avoid over-watering your plants, as this will cause them to grow more slowly.


If you take proper care of your basil plant, it’s possible to get a 2 months’ worth of basil harvest.

You want to know when to prune basil for the first time; we have cleared every doubt and explained a smooth process to follow.

Pruning your basil keeps it healthy, lovely, and in vibrant green color.  Be gentle when handling the plant and cut off the true leaves.

Pruning is quite therapeutic for this plant and causes it to produce more leaves which means more harvest.

It’s more like trimming the edges of your hair to allow it to grow more in a healthy way avoiding tangling and breaking.

Now it’s your turn to grow this renowned herb and enjoy your pizza or pesto-like never before.

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