House Plants

How To Harvest Basil Without Killing The Plant

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Basils are excellent as food seasonings, and because of this quality, many gardeners enjoy growing them in their gardens. Keep in mind that if you keep harvesting from the plants regularly, it will help them to grow vigorously and firmly. But do you know how to harvest basil without killing the plants?

You need to ideally trim a quarter of an inch slightly above the leaf node so that you can avoid damaging the node. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that you need to pick leaves from different sections too. Don’t ever empty the entire stem, as it would be unhealthy. 

However, trimming their leaves incorrectly will ensure that you leave at least one leaf pair in each stem to avoid lanky limbs. impact the plant’s growth. Therefore, it is essential that you put the proper harvesting techniques into practice in order to prevent any potential plant damage. In addition to that, it would be useful to encourage the growth of the plants as well.

You should also avoid picking up on the young leaves or cutting the leaf nodes. If you accidentally make these mistakes, it will result in the untimely death of the plants. So, if you are one of those curious learners who wish to become a pro at harvesting the basil without killing the plants, you may continue reading this article till the end.

How To Harvest Basil Without Killing The Plants

What is the best time to harvest Basil?

The best time to harvest basil is in the spring. It is critical that you are aware of the best time to collect basil leaves, as picking the young leaves will have a negative impact on the plant’s growth. Stressing the basil plants will have a negative impact on their ability to develop new foliage. In addition to that, they will find it difficult to survive any longer in harsh conditions, such as in severe weather conditions. Ultimately, chances are that they may even perish.

So, the best is to wait till they produce lush new growth. Ideally, you can harvest the basil during the spring, so your harvest will be full of juicy leaves. Furthermore, it would encourage the plants to grow healthily during the summer too. It is worth noting that basil plants must be harvested two months after the seeds are planted. Furthermore, you should reap the harvest once the mature plants reach a height of 6–8 inches.

Besides, the stem should contain around 8 pairs of leaves, which have significantly grown. If you have a potted basil plant, you can collect the harvest after six weeks from planting. Additionally, you may reap the harvest if you spot them with thick foliage as well. If you reap the harvest too soon, you will almost certainly cause the stem to grow unevenly. Literally, they may tend to become leaner as a repercussion of that.

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Morning is the best time to reap the harvest, as once the leaves get in contact with the dew, it helps the leaves stay fresh. Additionally, it would allow the plants to repair the fresh cuts as they get exposed to sunlight and the warmer temperatures during the midday. Bear in mind that you can reap the harvest during the winter. However, it would be best to avoid harvesting them for human consumption.  

If you want to use basil leaves all year, it’s best to dry them and store them for six months. One might wonder whether that would be a good idea, as they may presume that the dried harvest would not carry the same benefits as when they’re fresh.

Things to Remember Before Harvesting Basil Leaves

Await till the right time comes

I suggest you wait until the plants reach a height of at least 6 inches to 8 inches (15 cm  to 20 cm). Keep in mind that you should trim them before they exceed 8 inches in height. You may use a measuring tape or even a ruler to check the heights they have gained.

Pay Special Attention to the Leaves

If your basil plants are healthy, you could spot them in light green to dark green colors. Besides, they would be about 2-3 inches long as well. That being said, the length of the leaves could change depending on the variety of the plants.  Next, if you come across any yellowed or browned leaves, you need to prune them off and refrain from consuming them. Besides, do not harvest the basil leaves that contain twisted stems or that tend to look wilted or stunted. If you come across these signs, it literally means the plants are suffering from a disease.

How To Harvest Basil Without Killing The Plants

How to Harvest Basil Without Damaging it?

As stated at the outset, if you harvest the basil leaves too soon, it will cause severe damage to the plants. Further, when you cut the plants improperly, they tend to develop tall and leggy growths. Furthermore, harvesting young leaves or cutting off leaf nodes from plants has a negative impact on the plant’s overall growth. Find below two of the harvesting methods that you could practice without killing them.

Harvesting in Small Quantities

It is very easy to harvest a few basil leaves. You simply have to wait for the foliage to come up in the spring and then pinch some healthy-looking leaves from the tops of the plants.

Pick the Leaves

You could simply use your fingers and pinch off the stalk slightly above the node. Next, take the entire leaf from the stem in a gentle way. Ensure that you are gentle when doing this and try to avoid damaging the branches. Picking leaves from different sections of the plant allows the plants to develop new growths evenly.

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Be cautious when  Cutting the Leaf Node

If you end up damaging the leaf node, it will badly impact the new growth of the plants and make their stems look ugly and empty. Not only that, but the cut wounds would become a breeding ground for a variety of plant diseases.

Use a Pruning Tool

You can avoid cutting damage by cutting off the leaves at the exact axis with a pruning shear or a scissor. Alternatively, you may also use a knife to do this task. That said, you need to be careful not to harm the plant’s stem.

Harvesting in Large Quantities

If you opt to harvest the basil leaves in large quantities, it would be somewhat tricky. That is simply because if you excessively cut the plants, it would affect their overall growth negatively. You need to be vigilant for the plant’s long term health.

Consider using a Top-Down Method

I suggest you harvest the leaves from the top down. Ideally, you need to pick more from the top part of the plants and less from the bottom part of the plants. You could use either your fingers or pruning shears to do this task, depending on your requirements.

Never Empty the Stem

Do not ever remove all the leaves from the stem, as doing so would result in lanky stem growth in the plants. It is best to leave at least one leaf pair toward the base of the stem so that it will aid in the further growth of the plants. In addition to that, you may have to harvest the entire stem by making strategic cuttings slightly above the ground. Basically, you need to do it in a similar way to how you prune the plants.  

Prune your Plant

You may consider pruning the plant’s stem 3 inches above the ground and then cutting a quarter of an inch slightly above the stem nodes. It would be helpful for the plants to direct the nutrients to the stub and keep those nutrients reaching the smaller shoots.

Ideally, you should prune the outer stems so that they retain their original shape while giving the plants a new look. In addition to that, once you remove the outer layer, it will be easier for the smaller shoots to receive more sunlight. When you have finished removing them, you can reap the harvest of all the leaves as you wish from the stems.

How To Harvest Basil Without Killing The Plants

How to Harvest Basil to Promote Growth?

If you want to harvest basil to promote growth, you may simply do a simple trimming. You can regularly harvest the basil plants to fulfill your day-to-day purposes. However, it would not have any impact on enhancing the foliage on the plants. Having said that, harvesting some of the leaves while trimming the stems will help the plants grow bushier. 

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Cut the Overgrowing Stems

Take a close look at the plant to see if there are any lanky stems that need to be trimmed. Thereafter, remove a few stems. Alternatively, you could trim the plants by one-third to promote healthier plant growth. Bear in mind that you need to cut the stem 3 inches above the ground so that it does not impact the plants in a negative manner. After that, reap the harvest from top to bottom while cutting the stem length in half.

Trimming Bushier Stems

You may consider trimming the stem to avoid the thick foliage. Ultimately, it would allow the inner stems to absorb the sunlight. Cut the central stem until you see a lower pair of leaves with two small leaf buds forming from the leaf axils. In fact, those would be prominently visible, and you could easily identify them as well. Next, you need to pinch the central stem by 50%.

Further pinching needs to be done 14 inches above the leaf axils and when they are about 6–8 inches in height. When you figure out where you are going to make the cutting, you need to cut the main stem about a quarter of an inch above the leaf buds.

Bear in mind that you need to refrain from leaving a bare stem on the upper part of the plants. Once you adhere to these guidelines, it will allow you to make the plants look more dense and compact. Furthermore, if you end up pruning the top parts of the stems, it would negatively impact the flowering process of the plants as well.

How To Harvest Basil Without Killing The Plants

How to Store Harvested Basil?

You can store the harvested basil by drying it and infusing it in olive oil. Further, you may freeze them to become small ice cubes as well. Thereafter, you may store them in airtight Ziplock bags. If you make sure that you store them well, you could preserve them and keep using them for some time.

Finally on How To Harvest Basil Without Killing The Plant

Whether you are growing basil plants for harvesting or for decoration, I believe the best thing you can do is prune back the leaves to allow the plants to grow healthily and vigorously. So, I hope you found this article very informative and that now you are all clear on how to harvest the basil plants without killing them.

Credit to : Best Bloom Booster

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I'm Dr. Chamika and I'm a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. Our highly qualified team is trying to educate you in various aspects of the day to day life in many ways. Their mission is to help others to enjoy their life to the fullest.