Herbs forum→What to do with my Basil plants

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JT2
Dec 2, 2020 8:27 AM CST
Hi All,

I live in Mass so there is no gardening this time of year, but I am successfully growing a bunch of Basil plants indoors, using LED Grow lights. The Basil is performing incredibly indoors, and I have propagated one plant into a half dozen plants now. I'm getting a good amount of Basil so now the question is what to do with it?

First off, do I keep the plants trimmed? I cut off the top 1/3 of the plant, so now I have 2 offshoots that need trimming. Do I trim off 1/3 to 1/2 of these offshoots, and make these offshoots produce their own offshoots?

I have frozen some of the Basil leaves, although this doesn't appear to be the best way to use them, as they tend to blacken over time while frozen. I guess I could try drying the leaves, or perhaps I could do a big harvest, cut all the plants down by 2/3rds and make a little bit of pesto.

If I were to harvest and dry the leaves, should I trim the plant back by 1/2 to 2/3rds, or just trim the top 1/3, and let more offshoots happen?

I also have 2 'old' plants, that I have kept alive for about 10 months now. They are kinda woody, and were not well maintained or trimmed. Should I do a hard reset on these somehow, and let them regrow? Either that or I could keep taking snips off of the plant to put in water, grow roots, and grow new plants.

Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.
Washington
Zenni
Dec 4, 2020 10:18 AM CST
Having lots of extra basil is a wonderful gift! 😊 I like your idea of making pesto! You could also make some homemade pizza and include lots of the fresh basil leaves in the toppings!
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
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kittriana
Dec 13, 2020 10:16 AM CST
Basils are a 1 year plant only. The only one I know of that MIGHT be able to survive a protected environment is one that does not produce seeds and is propagated by cuttings.
Most basils are grown, harvested, and preserved by drying, freezing or however. Then plants are reseeded in Spring.
I doubt the woody part of the stems would sprout new leaves before the plant died as the natural course of its life. Perhaps like parsley, the flavor is best in the first year of growth anyway.
So many roads to take, choices to make, and laughs to share!

JT2
Dec 13, 2020 12:03 PM CST
If Basil is a 1-year plant only, do you think taking cuttings, establishing roots on these cutting, and planting is considered 'restarting' the plant, for a new plant with a new 1-year life span?
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
Vegetable Grower Bookworm
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kittriana
Dec 13, 2020 2:02 PM CST
African Blue basil is the plant I was referring to, it is a cross of 2 basils, and in honesty, I could not tell you exactly how to split hairs on designating what a technical term for layering new plants from last years plants would be.
Thumb of 2020-12-13/kittriana/b6a0aa
I do not always succeed in keeping cuttings alive past Feb where I am.
As far as turning black, that would be considered freezer burn, it is a tender plant after all. Even dried herbs lose their flavor within a year or less.
IF you have seeds, and a good indoor place to grow them, then simply reseed until you can harvest. Basil can be successfully be a (ummm, lost my word) succession planting crop. African blue basil:
African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum 'Dark Opal') is a hybrid basil variety, a cross between camphor basil and dark opal basil. It is one of a few types of basil that are perennial. African blue basil plants are sterile, unable to produce seeds of their own, and can only be propagated by cuttings.[1]


Hybrid parentage
Ocimum kilimandscharicum × Ocimum basilicum
Cultivar
'Dark Opal'
Origin
Peter Borchard, Companion Plants, Athens, Ohio, 1983[1

I should have edited this earlier
So many roads to take, choices to make, and laughs to share!
[Last edited by kittriana - Dec 16, 2020 11:45 PM (+)]
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Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
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NMoasis
Dec 13, 2020 2:41 PM CST
Basil is best used fresh and loses its flavor when dried. You can make a sort of incomplete pesto—blend fresh leaves and olive oil into a thickish paste, garlic if you wish, and freeze that in small amounts. Then you can use it in various dishes as needed or add the pine nuts and Parmesan for pesto. Most sources say it's good for 3 months in the freezer but I'm sure I've left it longer and it's fine.

As long as you're cutting into green stems they should re-leaf. I've never gotten new growth from wood. Can't say for sure because I've never tried, but I think green cuttings give you a "restart" but gosh, they're so easy from seed...
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
Vegetable Grower Bookworm
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kittriana
Jan 22, 2021 10:44 AM CST
We didn't answer you properly. Yes cuttings would be considered a New plant. BUT, it responds to seasonal triggers like light length and strength. In home it might not do that, let us know!
So many roads to take, choices to make, and laughs to share!
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 26, 2021 1:38 PM CST
Basil will certainly grow for more than one year, but it gets big and ugly. I had 4ft.woody basil plants back in November, a variety called 'Cardinal' that has beautiful flower heads as well as tasting good, and it's resistant to the mildew diseases, too. But the plants were so big and ungainly I decided to yank them and start new from cuttings.

Both green stem cuttings and woody stems rooted just fine and now I have a dozen plants ready to make a huge pretty planting for next spring. Even here in Florida, I do need to protect them on some cold nights, so these are growing on my living room coffee table in front of my only sunny window. In about a month they'll go out to the garden again, to grow into a hedge, I suppose, unless I can give them away to people.

I use basil almost daily, in salad dressings, soup, and added to pizza toppings. When I have so much I need to preserve it, I make pesto and freeze it. We love pesto on fresh noodles, all by itself for dinner.

Thumb of 2021-01-26/dyzzypyxxy/3e1a81 Thumb of 2021-01-26/dyzzypyxxy/2719d3 November

Thumb of 2021-01-26/dyzzypyxxy/057633 Today, outside for some sun

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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