Most gardeners grow herbs in order to have fresh ingredients in the kitchen. Fresh ingredients simply make food better. In order to keep the fresh herbs coming, cutting back the plants helps encourage new growth and fresher herbs.
Many types of herbs tend to die back after flowering. Pruning extends the useful life of the plant until later in the growing season. Ideally, pruning the plants back before they flower is ideal. Plants use a lot of energy when they flower. After all, the main purpose of a plant is to reproduce, thus flowers. In order to redirect this energy into growing the foliage, the part of the plant most often used for cooking and other purposes, preventing flowers is important.
Pruning also keeps the plants from getting leggy and difficult to manage. Pruning encourages lateral bus to grow making a fuller and more balanced plant.
Herbs That Respond Well To Pruning
Many of the soft tissue herbs respond very well to pruning. Examples of these herbs include oregano, thyme, basil, sage and cilantro.
How To Prune Herbs
There are two methods for pruning herbs in season.
Pinching – Using one’s pointer finger and thumb to gently pinch back stems works real well for limited pruning of soft tissue herbs. Pinch back stems just above leaf nodes.
Cutting Back – To make major cut backs of plants, use a sharp pair of hand pruners and cut back plants near the base, leaving at least one or two leaf nodes remaining on the stem from which the plant will grow back.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to thoroughly clean up any cuttings that fall into the plant or around it. Dying cuttings can become a haven for damaging insects and diseases.
What To Do With Extra Herbs
Please see the following posts on great ways to use your herbs:
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