The Q&A Archives: Flowering Basil

Question: My basil plants are tall and woody with long branches that have produced a minimal amount of leaves. Also they have already flowered and set seeds. What can I do with the parent plants so they will grow into dense plants?

Answer: While basil can grow like a woody perennial, it's generally treated as an annual, the leaves are harvested when young and tender, and then new plants are allowed to take their places. There's not much you can do to restore youth to your aged basil plants, other than cutting the woody stems down to ground level, allowing new stems and tender leaves to emerge. It might be better to replace the old plants with new ones, cutting them down to the ground periodically so they won't become woody.

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