Pinching Basil
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Cheri Brown
Posted on: April 6, 1998

Could you possibly explain how to pinch back basil? How soon do you start pinching? Exactly where do you pinch? How often? When you harvest basil, do you just remove leaves or do you cut the stem back at some point?

I’ve grown basil for the last 4 or 5 years and it always grows tall and scraggly looking instead of bushy. I have several herb books, but there are no pictures/drawings that show what pinching back means.

Pinching back means that you decide how tall you would like your plant to be and cut off anything over that ideal height! The only restraint you have to practice is that the shortened plant must have sufficient leaves left to make more food for further growth. In practice this means most plants have to have 6" left when you are through with your creative pinching! All the straggly growths can be shortened to a more attractive length. Give the plants lots of light-full sun to avoid straggly reaching- for- light growth in the first place.

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