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Growing a basil plant but not sure how to harvest it? Removing leaves actually makes the plant healthier and grow better! Here’s how to harvest basil.

How to harvest basil

Are you growing fresh basil at home but not sure how to harvest it? You’re not alone. Harvesting or trimming a basil plant can be tricky, because it seems backward. Removing leaves seems like it would hurt the plant, right? It’s exactly the opposite: removing the leaves helps to encourage the plant to start branching, making it into a large, bushy plant!

Alex typically cares for the basil in our raised bed gardens, which makes me sometimes feel like I’m not sure quite the right way to prune our plant. So, we decided it was high time to get some of these thoughts on basil care down on paper. Here’s everything about how to harvest basil!

Related: Best Basil Recipes and Quick Guide to Basil

Basil

How to harvest basil

Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Growing a basil plant but not sure how to harvest it? Removing leaves actually makes the plant healthier and grow better! Here’s how to harvest basil.

Materials

  • Basil plant

Tools

  • Scissors

Instructions

    1. When a basil branch has six to eight leaves, trim back the stem and leaves to the first set of leaves. (Do not remove single leaves.) Continue to do this throughout the growing season. This helps to encourage the plant to start branching and become large and bushy
    2. If flowers start to grow on the basil, cut them off immediately.
    3. Make sure to trim (and use) the leaves regularly: it helps the basil plant to grow! When you bring basil branches inside, store the fresh basil properly to extend its life: see How to Store Fresh Basil.
How to harvest basil

How to grow basil

And that’s it: how to harvest basil! It’s perfect for adding a fresh flair to any dish (see below). Have questions about the best way to grow basil or what we do? Here’s our post on How to Grow Basil.

Did you know you can preserve basil by drying it? Go to How to Dry Basil.

Basil recipes

There are so many great things to cook with fresh basil! Its peppery flavor takes any dish to the next level. Here are a few of our favorite basil recipes:

How to harvest basil

Questions on how to harvest basil?

Anything we haven’t covered regarding how harvest basil? Let us know in the comments below! Another great resource is the Farmer’s Almanac Guide on Basil.

We love to provide resources for your kitchen and garden! Here are a few more of our resources:

Harvesting herbs

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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