How to Prune Basil

Your loving Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) has grown all leggy and not bushy. How does one go about trimming its leaves so it will continue to grow into a bushy plant with lots of leaves to use in your recipes?

Trimming basil like trimming bangs that are too long. You don’t want to cut off too much otherwise, you will look weird and your hair won’t lay correctly. The same goes for trimming Basil. By understanding its leaf and stem structure you will know where to prune so she has a luscious bushy growth pattern.

What do I look for when it’s time to prune my basil?

Basil leaves have a main stem with leaves that are located on opposite sides of each other. There are two smaller leaves or bumps per attachment point (node) on the stem. Think of Basil stems and leaves branching out like a person making a “Y” with their arms up in the air.  

You want to cut the larger leaves at the center of the “Y” growing just above the nodes. When you prune just above the little bumps the plant will send out a hormone causing the Basil to bush out and not flower.

If you prune regularly you will be blessed with lots of fresh basil to enjoy in your dishes, spells, or to save for the coming months.  

How to Prune Basil

Pruning basil is quick and easy.

You only need:

  1. A Pair of scissors.


  1. Find the “Y” of the stem and leaves.
  2. Cut the leaves between the bumps (nodes) or smaller leaves.
  3. Store clippings for later use.

Copyright 2018 Eira + Plentiful Earth / All Rights Reserved.

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About The Author

Deanna “Eira” Hanson found her calling in Yosemite Valley when she heard the call of wild and beyond, has an affinity to the cycles of the earth and developing a better relationship with the plants in her neighborhood.

Eira has many friends in all different religions and spiritual paths. Her personal experience is with Christianity and Earth-based religions, she believes in the power of understanding, kindness, personal balance, knowledge, and has a longtime personal saying, “everyone is a teacher if all learn to listen”.

She specializes in massage, herbalism, and holistic healing. She is currently working towards a professional membership in the American Herbalist Guild.

In her daily life, she owns and operates a small clinic called Spiral Healing in the Pacific Northwest, which focuses on holistic massage techniques, aromatherapy, and herbalism.

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