When to Harvest Basil? (EXPLAINED)

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when to harvest basil

Basil is one of the most preferred cooking herbs in the world. It almost goes without saying, then, that basil is one of the most popular herbs to grow at home.

But, if you’re not an expert gardener, how do you know when to harvest basil? 

Read on below, where we discuss when and how to harvest basil, as well as the answers to several crucial related questions.

When Should I Harvest Basil?

Basil can be harvested as soon as it reaches heights of around 6 or 8 inches tall. The average basil plant requires at least two months to reach this size. Some plants take up to 10 or 12 weeks to reach a good size for starting to harvest.

Where Do You Cut Basil to Harvest?

Basil is a versatile plant in that you can cut it almost anywhere when you are harvesting it. That said, if you want to keep the plant growing and thriving, simply remove a few leaves at a time. If you want to harvest everything, cut each stem off at its base.

Can You Pick Basil After it Flowers?

Basil is an incredibly edible plant, you can eat the leaves, stems, and even flowers. Even after basil starts flowering, you can continue to grow it and harvest it for some time. Just make sure you don’t let the entire plant go to seeding or it’s game over for picking season.

How Many Times Can You Harvest Basil?

plucking basil leaves

You can harvest basil all year long if you grow it inside and handle it properly. Outside, growing it seasonally, you may harvest your basil right up until the first hard frost in the autumn. To harvest basil as many times as possible, make sure that you pick everything that exceeds four to six sets of leaves on each plant.

Should I Pick Basil From the Top or Bottom?

picking top basil leaves

The best way to harvest basil is from the top down. That way you are picking the freshest and least bitter leaves first as well as allowing the rest of the plant to continue growing and developing for further harvesting of leaves, stems, and flowers. When you pick from the top, you can return every two or three weeks to harvest more.

Does Basil Grow Back After You Cut it?

Each time you cut basil back, you force the plant to double its production. When you remove a set of leaves, they are replaced by two more sets. More or less, each time you pinch or cut away a few leaves, you’re giving your plant the signal to grow back thicker. When flowers start to bloom, if you aren’t ready for the plant to go to seed, pick them immediately.

Can You Eat Bolted Basil?

large basil plant

Bolted basil is technically edible, though it tastes quite horrible in comparison to fresh basil leaves, flowers, or even stems. Once bolting occurs and the plant becomes completely bolted, the jig is up, the plant is no longer harvestable for the year. However, if you catch the first few bolts, and remove them, you can manage to keep your basil producing new edible leaves for several more days or weeks.