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People grow herbs for many different reasons.  Some want to use fresh herbs in their cooking or for medicinal reasons.  Others might just like the aromatic scents of the herbs.  Whatever your reason is, herbs need to be used for them to thrive.

Regular pruning promotes general health while preventing plants from getting leggy and unattractive.  Whether you are growing herbs outside in the ground or in pots, or inside on a windowsill, you need to trim them regularly.  Here are a few simple steps to keeping your herbs looking good:

  • Always cut your herbs with sharp, clean scissors or clippers.  This prevents plant damage and promotes the growth of the plant.
  • If you are pinching with your fingers, clean your hands before starting.
  • Start snipping leaves from annual plants like Basil, cilantro, stevia and dill* as soon as the plant is strong.  Cut whole stems and then separate leaves from stems.  Harvest in the morning or late afternoon.
  • Harvest flowering herbs like basil, sage and thyme before their flowers bloom.  Once they bloom, the leaves lose their flavor.  I prefer to snip off all the flower buds so that the plant lasts longer.  Once the plant flowers it will start to make seeds and stop producing leaves.
  • Cut parsley and chive stems close to the base, about an inch from the soil.  New growth should appear in about a week.
  • Prune new growth from perennial herbs like rosemary, sage and tarragon every week during the summer.  Pinch off the top 2 inches of all new shoots to encourage a fuller plant with strong root growth.

* With dill you may be growing it for the seeds so let it flower and the greens will start to die back.

Below is a chart to help you with caring for your herbs:

HERB ANN./PER.

PINCH

CLIP

CUT FROM BASE

NOTES
 
Basil annual

X

dies at 50 degrees
Chives annual

X

Cilantro (corriander) annual

X

harvest  seeds
 
Dill annual

X

plant often, short-lived
 
Lavender perennial

X

cut stems to old wood

Marjoram tender perennial

X

Mint perennial

X

X

spreads quickly

Oregano perennial

X

Parsley biennial

X

2 yr. growth cycle

Rosemary perennial

X

Sage perennial

X

Tarragon perennial

X

Thyme perennial

X

Caring for an herb garden might be a little more work but the results are worth the time and effort.  Nothing beats the smell of fresh cut herbs in the morning!