Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to Prune Your Basil

Yesterday, I wrote about how pruning encouraged my Swiss Mint to branch out. That showed the impact of one cut.  Is there a particular science to pruning?   Is pruning good for Cinnamon Basil as well?   I try to be scientific, but not too scientific.  That means I adhere to some general principles but I don't follow the book each time.

I try to prune at the lowest possible stem, probably just a few nodes above the soil.  Why?  So that the plant branches out at that level.  Then you'll have secondary stems growing (or branching out).  When they're 4-5 nodes tall, I cut above the lowest possible node then.   So on and so forth.  But honestly, I don't follow that to the letter.  I look around for stems that look "ready" for cutting and I prune away.  If I remember right, I must have pruned my month-old (since purchase) Cinnamon Basil around nine times!  Yes, I have a certain addiction to pruning.

Has it been good for my Cinnamon Basil?  Check out the before and after photos and judge for yourself.  Remember, the pictures are just one month apart.

On a final note, there's another very important reason for pruning.  I've read that Basil plants should not be allowed to flower because the leaves will become bitter.  Who wants bitter pesto?  It is said that every time your basil plant attempts to flower, you should pinch those buds.  In my case, it's a little more preemptive.  I prune even before the leaves become big!  No chance it'll flower.  That's why you'll see from the pictures that there are a lot more leaves, but they're smaller too.  Oh don't worry, I'll let them grow someday, when I have enough Cinnamon Basil plants in my yard.


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