How often do you get a haircut? Every six weeks or so? How does it make your hair feel? Pretty good, huh? Like your hair cut, plants benefit from a trim every now and then, too—especially herbs. But, how do you prune herbs? Keep reading…
Pruning herbs will help promote growing and, for the most part, make the plant more attractive. When you let the plant just grow, it will become lanky, woody, and sprawl all over the place. Many first time gardeners are afraid to prune. They think, “Hey, how can I cut my beautiful baby! It’s so pretty, I cannot bear to cut any of it!” I’m here to tell you that I too was once like this. After many years of growing herbs, I learned to make the cut. And, guess what? They grow back.
Besides helping the plant look more attractive, the main reason I prune them is to get more herbs. If you let your herbs go to flower, then that’s the end of that. Instead, regularly pruning will give more delicious herbs for a longer period of time. How do you prune herbs? Let me show you. I will use my lovely basil plant to demonstrate.
Learn How To Prune Herbs
The first thing you need to do before you prune anything is to disinfect your tools. The last thing you want to do is spread disease from one plant to another. Use rubbing alcohol to carefully clean the blades of your scissors or pruners.
Where do you cut first? This is often the hardest part for a newbie.
I took a picture of a basil flower (see, even I am not perfect). I don’t get to all of my basil before it flowers, but it’s not too late to prune (bees love basil flowers, so it’s a win-win). Honestly, with herbaceous herbs like basil, chives, oregano, lemon balm, and mint, you really can’t do it wrong. They are very forgiving and grow back fast.
In general, I like to make my cut right where the leaf meets the stem or at a junction of stems. You can pinch the larger basil leaves off by hand.
Make the cut at the base of the stem, right where it intersects with a set of leaves.
Continue all around the plant. Make sure to take a step away from the plant after a few snips to make sure the plant looks balanced (if you are concerned with that).
You can prune just about any herb this way. For the woodier types like rosemary, sage, or thyme, they really only need to be pruned once a year to stay healthy. However, if you are harvesting regularly, then pruning will help stimulate growth of your herbs. You will begin to notice that your herbs will be bushier with regular pruning: this is normal…and good!
As you get more confident with pruning your herbs, you won’t feel so guilty about giving them regular trims throughout the growing season. Your herbs will reward you with a bountiful harvest and incredible flavor.