How To Pick Basil

Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on October 30, 2022

Did you know there’s a right way to harvest basil to ensure they flourish and you get to enjoy continuous yield?  That’s right! So, learning how to pick basil the right way is important and we will teach you how.

The sweet aromatic and tasteful basil is one popular herb loved by many. It is a culinary herb that any kitchen lover can use for various dishes. The tasteful basil herb is even more distinguishable when grown and used fresh from the garden. Therefore, you would agree that it’s a must-have in every garden.

When growing basil plants, how you pick them matters and we will enlighten you on this. So continue reading to find out.

Growing Basil Plants

There are different varieties of basil to grow, but sweet basil is the most common type of basil grown. Other types of basil include Thai basil, cinnamon basil, purple basil, lemon basil, etc.

Basil plants can be grown both hydroponically and in an outdoor garden. However, it will only grow outdoors during summer when the soil is warm. But with hydroponics, you can grow them all year round.

Growing Basil Plants

Planting Basil

To commence basil planting, get your seeds and plant them. You can plant them indoors if you wish. Preferably, you should plant them 6 weeks before the last spring frost. They are pretty frost sensitive so ensure you insulate them during freezing temperatures or bring them indoors if you’re growing with a container.

Once the seedlings have begun yielding their first 6 leaves, trim them to the top of their second set of leaves. This will stimulate your basil plant to start branching. Thus, this will encourage the multiplication of leaves for an abundant harvest.

Pinch off the middle shoot once it’s 6 weeks as this will prevent early flowering. And if you notice any flowers growing, simply cut them off so that the vegetative process will keep ongoing.

Basil can be grown in flower beds or containers. For outdoors planting, ensure the soil has warmed up to about 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is crucial because heat is necessary for the growth of your basil. Choose a sunny location to plant your basil and target 6 to 8 hours full or partial sun daily.

Read more about How Many Basil Plants Per Pot?

AeroGarden Black Harvest Indoor Hydroponic Garden

Moisture is another important factor in planting basil. Basil plant loves moisture so ensure the soil is well moist but not soggy and ensure the soil should be well-draining.

Avoid using pesticides on your basil if they’re meant for cooking as this can produce unhealthy basil leaves to be consumed. Also, avoid planting them close to a driveway or busy streets to prevent exhaust from settling on your plants.

Once, the freezing temperature approaches, harvest your basil plants because your plants will be destroyed during this period.

Best Way To Harvest Basil

The following guidelines will teach you how to pick basil correctly so read on to learn.

Best Time For Picking Basil

It’s fine to pick basil any time of the day. However, morning is the best time to harvest basil but that does not stop you from harvesting them at period.

Learning How To Pick Basil

When you harvest your basil plants the appropriate way, you’re encouraging a fuller and bountiful subsequent harvest.

Once your basil plant attains the length of 6 inches, that’s the right time to harvest: ensure your basil plant does not exceed 8 inches.

Pick your basil from stem to stem and avoid cutting off the stem.  Be gentle as you pinch off the leaves from the stem they are attached to. Avoid using sharp tools to cut the leaves only if you will be careful enough from injuring the stem.

Ensure you always pick the leaves from time to time to enhance more growth. However, you should avoid picking the basil leaves from the bottom stem to prevent your plant from being thin and tall as this will not encourage a healthy production.

Don’t stop harvesting even if you don’t need the basil leaves so as to encourage continuous growth. You can pick and store the basil leaves for later use. Pinch off or remove any flower bud or flower so your basil plant can grow more leaves rather than flowers.

Best Time For Picking Basil

When their growing season has ended, (this is before the first frost) you can cut the stem off the ground. Harvest all your basil and bring them indoors for cooking. The excess basil leaves should be preserved for later use.

Read more about Transferring Soil Plants to Hydroponic

Storing Basil Leaves

It is important you also learn how to store basil correctly. This is because it’s likely you pick the leaves regularly and excess basil might remain and you won’t want to just throw the excess basil away. So here are the two ways you can store your basil leaves:

  • Freezing: To store your basil leaves appropriately, you will need to freeze them. When you freeze them, they remain fresh and most of their tasty flavor is kept intact. You will need to pack them in a resalable airtight plastic bag to store them. Then you proceed to place them in the freezer.

  • Drying: Drying is another method of storing your excess basil leaves. However, some flavor will be lost in this process. You can dry your basil by spreading them in a shady area for 3 or 4 days. If you have done this after 3 or 4 days and they aren’t dried completely, you can finish drying them in the oven. Simply turn your oven to the lowest heat and leave the door slightly open. Turn them regularly for an even drying till you achieve all your basil leaves all dried. When they are done drying, put them in a dry paper bag and keep them in a warm place like your kitchen cupboard.

  • Storing Fresh Basil In Water: If you wish to cut the stem of your basil, you can place them inside a glass jar. Keep them out of direct sunlight and they will last you up to two weeks.

Storing Basil Leaves


How do you pick basil so it keeps growing?

The secret to success is to pick basil when it’s at its best, and then leave it alone. But you don’t have to wait until you see a whole bunch of leaves to pick your basil. You can harvest a few leaves off the stems every few days to keep the plant healthy. And if you have a big pot, you can harvest as many leaves as you want from the center of the plant.

How do you keep basil from getting too big?

There are several ways to keep basil plants from getting too big. You can pinch off the side shoots as they appear. Or you can cut off the top of the plant when it reaches 6 inches tall. Or you can wait until the plant gets bigger and then use pruning shears to remove the center stems.

Do you pick fresh basil from the top or bottom?

The best and freshest basil is picked from the top of the plant. In other words, it is picked at the stem end.

How do you pick basil without killing it?

The most common way to select a bunch of basil for your cooking is to look for the greenest leaves. If they are not quite as dark green as the leaves of a leek, or if the leaves have started to yellow, they are probably ready to be picked. The other method is to smell the leaves. If the scent is sweet, like that of oregano, they are ready to use.

When can I pick basil leaves?

The plant itself doesn't have an 'exact' time when it will be ready to harvest. In general, as long as the leaves are still green (unripe), you can harvest them.
You can start harvesting basil as soon as the weather is warm enough to grow it outside. As long as it’s not too hot or cold, you should be able to get some good leaves from your plants.

How do I know if my basil plant needs to be watered?

Basil doesn't like hot and dry weather.
When the air is hot and dry, your basil may wilt and look sickly. You can help your plant by giving it a drink of water. If you see that your plant looks pale or droopy, give it another drink of water.

How do I keep basil from getting moldy?

Basil plants can get moldy in the summer months when the weather is very hot and humid. You can prevent this problem by keeping your basil in a place where the temperature stays cool, like a basement or a garage. You should also make sure your basil has plenty of moisture by watering it regularly.

How To Pick Basil: Conclusion

As we can see there are great benefits to picking your basil the appropriate way. Follow our guidelines on how to pick basil and enjoy a continuous harvest of the tasteful basil herb.

Sharing is caring!