How To Prune Basil For Higher Yields

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Basil is a wonderful culinary herb that is easy to grow in our tropical environment. The leaves are full of aroma and the plants are resilient towards pests and disease with the proper care. In this article we’ll show you how we get the most of our basil plants so that the plant grows into its fullest potential while able to continuously harvest its leaves over many more branches.


Pruning is a method to cut off or trim away parts of the plant which is normally decaying or diseased. However, pruning techniques can also be utilized to manipulate plant growth to influence a certain shape or to concentrate plant energy into certain parts of the plant.


Apical Meristem – The apical meristem is the growth region in plants found within the root tips and the tips of the new shoots and leaves.

Apical Dominance – Apical dominance is the phenomenon whereby the main, central stem of the plant is dominant over (i.e., grows more strongly than) other lateral stems.

Plant Node – A plant stem’s nodes are those critical areas from which leaves, branches, and aerial roots grow out from the stem, while the internodes are those intervals between the nodes.

Phototropism – the orientation of a plant or other organism in response to light, either toward the source of light ( positive phototropism ) or away from it ( negative phototropism ).



If your basil plant is growing in a good environment, you’ll visibly notice rapid growth of the plant. As the apical meristem stretches further vertically towards the sun (phototropism), it creates nodes along the stem. A healthy basil plant has about 2 to 3 inches of internode distance. Once your basil plant has reached between 12″ to 16″ inches, cut the center stem just above a healthy pair of nodes. This allows the plant to redirect nutrients into the double nodes to develop them further in absence of a center stem. 

The pair of lateral nodes grow bigger after pruning the center stem

Cut the center stem right above a healthy pair of nodes. Use a clean pruning shear.

Once the plant develops the lateral nodes, the plant bushes out and more leaves appear on the many lateral branches that develop. You’ll be able to pick and harvest continuously for many days and weeks.

Your basil plant will grow more vigorously and will bush out