Basil is a delightful herb. It likes to stretch out green under a hot sun with its sweet aromatic fragrance permeating the air. It is a native of Southeast Asia and sacred to the Hindu religion. It’s even considered an Elixir of Life by some.
Basil leaves are a delicious edible herb – but not its flowers. When the flowers arrive, remove them, or they’ll take the plant’s strength, thus inhibiting the growth of leaves. If the flowers thrive at harvest time, the leaves will not, and you’ll have a small and bitter harvest.
Why Is It Flowering?
When a Basil plant starts flowering, it changes from the growth stage to the reproduction stage. In other words, the plant’s energy goes into flowering rather than growing its leaves.
As part of its growth, when a Basil blooms, the leaves lose their flavor.
Basil is an edible herb that produces flowers. Flowering is part of Basil’s natural life cycle in late summer. However, the flowers are for one purpose – seeding.
They’re harmful to the development of the leaves and, if left to flourish, they can cause a bitter, sour taste to the leaves.
Because Basil is annual, the flowers will produce seeds that can be used to grow new plants in the following spring. Letting them grow eventually will produce purple or white flowers, which look so beautiful.
You’re growing Basil for the delicious and aromatic foliage as these leaves are valuable both in food and healing. However, you can use the flowers for their seeds, which you would plant for the following season.
Do You Let Your Basil Plants Flower Or Not? Before Deciding, We Should Learn More.
The Life Cycle Of The Basil Plant. Below Are The Three Stages:
1. Young Or Growing Stage – In this stage, Basil grows about 12 inches long and produces the most amount of leaves.
You could also cut the big leaves on top but leave the smaller ones at the bottom for the plant to grow.
2. Transition Stage – Towards this stage of Basil’s life cycle, the leaves don’t grow and don’t produce more.
At this point, pruning is recommended. Pruning will stimulate more growth of the aromatic leaves of your Basil.
Pruning flower heads is very important if you are growing basil leaves. You can make two cuttings about two to three weeks apart before this stage ends.
Prune your Basil before it forms flowers and when it is around 8 inches tall.
3. Reproduction Stage – Flowers start to bloom while stopping the leaves from producing. Therefore, pinch out the flowers before they bloom.
This encourages your Basil plant to focus on leaf production and extends Basil’s life cycle.
At this stage, the plant has reached the end of its growing season.
Some Factors That Could Affect The Basil Plant To Produce Flowers.
• High Temperatures
The high temperatures during summer can cause Basil to bolt. When a plant produces flowers far earlier than expected, the process is called “bolting”.
It usually happens when there is a sudden heatwave, whether the Basil plants are suddenly moved to a very sunny location after staying in the shade.
The sudden exposure to the sun + heat combination makes the Basil plants leap into flowering action.
The Basil plants might think they only have a limited time to get into seed mode, so they shift from vegetative growth into flowering.
During this process, when Basil produces flowers, pinch the flowers out before they affect the flavor of your leaves.
Nevertheless, when Basil is flowering, its leaves tend to have less flavor and exude a weaker aroma. Often tastes mild or bitter after flowering.
• Water Stress
The tissue of the Basil plant is tender and cannot tolerate drought. Basil enjoys regular soakings; however, you should avoid overwatering as this can also cause stress.
It requires 1.5 inches of water every week.
Use your index finger to test the soil for moisture between each soaking to prevent overwatering. As always, keep the soil moist.
A well-draining compost mixes soil and ensures the container has sufficient and several drainage holes.
• A Basil Plant Produces Flowers If It’s Not Regularly Pruned.
When you let your Basil grow, it will naturally produce purple or white flowers that look very pretty. They are a significant attraction for bees and other pollinating insects.
If you want the plant to keep producing Basil leaves, you’ll have to handle the flowers by pinching them out so that the leaves will grow in good health.
Prune regularly to prevent flowers from developing because this will give your Basil leaves a sour taste.
• It Is A Signal Your Basil Plant Has Reached The End Of Its Growing Season.
When the growing season comes to an end, all the flowers will be fighting to emerge. After you’ve removed them and before the first frost, you need to act quickly.
Cut the stems of the basil plants right down to the ground, and pick off all the leaves. Next, add the stems to the compost pile, and take your harvested leaves indoors for cooking and preserving.
What To Do With Basil Flowers?
A growing Basil Plant is easy to care for and very low-maintenance as long as you give it a lot of sunlight and enough water.
Healthy Basil would produce lots of leaves throughout the growing season; however, your Basil plant will flower when the growing season is over.
Whenever that happens, you must pinch the heads off as soon as they appear to prolong the growing season. Or you could let them grow to complete the Basil plant’s growth cycle.
The flowers will produce seeds that can be used to develop new plants in the following spring.
• Pinching Basil Flowers.
Pinching Basil flowers is to prolong the growing season of the plant. Pinching restores the plant’s energy and keeps it focused on foliage production.
The result is a bushier plant with more leaves and maintaining higher levels of essential oils in the leaves.
As to why you are cultivating Basil – your intent is for a big pesto or some great cooking. Therefore it is best to remove the flowers and pinch back the herb to encourage leaf growth.
To pinch off the flower buds as soon as they emerge. It would usually need to be pruned every two to three weeks. Basil plants could tolerate severe pruning, which will promote growth.
• Eat them (Basil Flowers)
All of us know that Basil flowers are edible and can be used in all cuisines. You can also use them with fresh basil leaves. You can use them for sauces and salsas.
However, caution: It’s important to note that fresh Basil flowers have a bitter flavor compared to the fresh herb. Try it on yourself before cooking it for others.
• Basil Flowers Infused With Vinegar
Basil flowers have essential oils and are a great way to make basil flower vinegar. An easy way is by infusing the flowers with vinegar.
Similarly, you can also try them with other cooking oils. Great for salad dressings and marinades.
• Make a Basil Flower Tea.
An easy step is to make basil tea, just add flowers to a teapot or cup, and pour on boiling water. Then, allow the tea to steep for 3-4 minutes, strain to remove the flowers before drinking.
You could boil the Basil Flowers with water and make it as a Basil Tea.
• Leave the Basil To Flower.
Whenever you have decided to leave your Basil to flower, it will naturally produce attractive purple or white flowers, which smell lovely.
They are attractive to bees and some other pollinating insects in your garden.
Hence, when you allow the flowers to mature on the Basil plant. They produce seeds you can collect as long as the flowers get pollinated.
You can replant it in the spring. Most essential if you live in an area where it grows as an annual plant
• Cut The Basil Flowers And Keep Them.
Basil Flowers are beautiful because of their color. If you are going to cut the Basil flowers off from the plant to encourage further growth of leaves, you can keep and display the flowers.
Put a little water in a bud vase or dried Basil flowers to make potpourri.
Basil is also called Great Basil. It is a culinary herb of the family of Lamiaceae and is native to tropical regions from Central Africa to Southeast Asia.
It’s a tender plant and is used in cuisines worldwide.
Basil is easy to grow, but it only grows outdoors during summer. There are many varieties of Basil. You should treat the most common varieties as annuals – meaning plants that flower will die in one season.
However, they will drop seeds that you can collect to grow new plants in the spring. Some Basil is perennial in warm places.
A reminder: don’t forget to fertilize your Basil plant, as it will increase the fragrant essential oils.
A good organic fertilizer will make the plant double in size within a couple of weeks for a healthier and bushier than before.
Don’t miss out on planting Basil. It has a fantastic flavor and enhances your cooking. Further, it has a great many uses. That will reward you for all the care you took.