How to Prune a Basil Plant

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Get tips on how to prune a basil plant so it can continue to grow fresh, fragrant leaves for your kitchen.

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Pruning Basics

Pruning is an important part of keeping your basil plant healthy. It helps the plant focus its energy on producing new growth and also prevents it from getting too leggy. You should prune your basil plant every couple of weeks during its growing season. Let’s go over the basics of how to prune a basil plant.

Why prune a basil plant

Pruning a basil plant is necessary to keep it from getting too leggy or woody and to encourage new growth. You should prune basil plants every couple of weeks during the growing season. You can stop pruning about a month before the first frost date in your area.

There are a couple of different ways to prune a basil plant. You can either snip off the tops of the plant, or you can pinch off the stems just below a set of leaves. If you snip off the tops of the plant, you will encourage the plant to branch out and become bushier. If you pinch off the stems, you will encourage the plant to produce more leaves.

Pruning a basil plant is easy to do and only takes a few seconds. It is an important part of keeping your plant healthy and vigorous.

When to prune a basil plant

Mid to late summer is the best time to prune a basil plant. You can cut the plant back by up to two-thirds its height. Doing this will encourage new growth, which will result in a bushier plant.

Tools Needed

In order to prune a basil plant, you will need a sharp pair of pruning shears and a small hand trowel. You will also need to have a general understanding of how to prune plants. If you have never pruned a plant before, it is best to read up on the subject or ask someone who is knowledgeable for help.

Sharp pruning shears

While you can use a sharp knife to prune your basil, it’s much easier (and safer) to use a good pair of pruning shears. You’ll want a pair that is comfortable to hold and that will make clean cuts without crushing the stems of your plant.

Clean rag

In order to properly prune your basil plant, you will need a few tools. First, you will need a clean rag. This will help you to wipe away any dirt or debris that might be on the plant before you start cutting. Second, you will need a sharp pair of pruning shears. These will help you make clean, precise cuts on the plant. Finally, you may also want to have a small garbage can or bag handy to dispose of any trimmings.


Pruning a basil plant is a simple process that can be done with just a few steps. By pruning your basil plant, you will encourage it to grow fuller and bushier. Pruning also helps to prevent the plant from getting too leggy. Follow these steps to prune your basil plant.

Cut off any dead leaves

Start by cutting off any dead leaves from the plant. You can do this with your hands or a pair of sharp scissors. If there are any yellow or wilted leaves, cut these off as well.

Next, cut back any leggy or long stems. These are the ones that are growing much faster than the rest of the plant and are often thinner and weaker. Cut them back to about 6 inches (15 cm) above the soil line.

Finally, trim back any stems that are crossing over or rubbing against each other. This will help the plant to grow more evenly and prevent disease.

Trim back any long stems

Pruning a basil plant helps to promote new growth and keep the plant bushy. Trim back any long stems, taking care to cut just above a set of leaves. This will encourage the plant to produce more lateral (side) branches.

Cut back any leggy growth

The best time to prune your basil is in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day sets in. You’ll want to cut back any leggy growth, which can make your plant look scraggly. Cut the stem just above a set of leaves (preferably a pair of opposite leaves), making sure that you don’t accidentally remove too much of the plant.


After you have pruned your basil plant, it is important to give it the proper aftercare in order to ensure that it continues to grow healthy and strong. Water your plant thoroughly, and make sure that the soil is evenly moist but not soggy. Place your plant in a spot where it will receive plenty of sunlight, and fertilize it every few weeks. With the proper aftercare, your basil plant will continue to produce flavorful leaves for you to enjoy.

Water the plant

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a tender annual herb that is a member of the mint family. It is native to India and other tropical countries, but it is grown all over the world. Basil is used for both culinary and ornamental purposes. The different types of basil include sweet basil, holy basil, lemon basil, and Thai basil.

Basil will grow in almost any type of soil as long as it is well-drained. The plants should be watered regularly, especially during dry spells. When watering, soak the ground thoroughly so that the water penetrates down to the roots. Allow the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings. Water early in the day so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall.

Place the plant in a sunny spot

Place the basil plant in a sunny spot. Once it has been cut back, it will need at least six hours of sunlight per day to maintain its foliage. If you don’t have a spot in your home that gets that much sunlight, you can place the plant under grow lights. Give the plant time to adjust to its new location before cutting it back again.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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