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Basil - to pinch out or not?

These three basil plants grown from the free seed (thanks!  :) ) are doing well, and are happier in the mini greenhouse and kept fairly dry, than others left out in the open during this damp and coolish Summer.   They have already contributed wonderfully in the kitchen and we are testing freezing some leaves to see what happens.
Question:  They are very vertical, but are beginning to grow side shoots. Should I pinch out the growing shoots at the crown to encourage them to be a bit more bushy, or should I leave well alone? And, having seen the photos, any further advice?


  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,083
    I do.
    Otherwise they get very tall and topple over or snap in the wind.
    You'll soon see slightly different leaves appearing at the top of the plant where it is trying to produce flowers. These need to be nipped out.
    Once the plant produces flowers it will die, so keep nipping off the tops of the side shoots too when you see the start of a flower spike to prolong your harvest. The bits you nip off can be used of course.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,337
    Yes :)  If they're outside, they may not do much more growing unless the weather picks-up.  It looks like a greenhouse in the background, so I'd move them in there after pinching (and using, of course!) the tops.  They look rather like my 'lettuce-leaved' basil variety.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 19,196
    I always pinch out the tops of the stems when harvesting, then they grow much bushier and you have more tips to pinch out when using it.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • I'd be using the larger leaves now.
    If they are producing side shoots, you can pinch out the growing tips to keep them a manageable height.
    As you rightly say, they prefer warmth and with the summer ( ? ) we've had so far, I wouldn't be growing them outside here ( coastal W. Somerset).
    Could just be the photos but they also look somewhat pale.
    If you manage to produce enough, you may like to consider making Basil Oil - a bit of a faff but stores well and keeps it's flavour.
  • tui34tui34 Béziers, Herault, FrancePosts: 2,169
    Definitely - ditto to previous contributions.
    A good hoeing is worth two waterings.

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