Cutting your Herbs~Tutorial

Hi everyone!

I have received several email regarding how to cut herbs and keep them healthy afterwards. So, I thought I would do a very quick tutorial for you today.

To keep your beautiful herbs healthy and get the most from them, please don’t “pluck” leaves off to use. This is a big “no no”.

If you want to maximize your home herbs to have the best results to last the season, this little info will help.

When your herb plants get to be about 6-8 inches tall and have nice healthy leaves on them, this is the time to start harvesting. Since these are your home herbs, you don’t need to harvest huge quantities. I think that is what a lot of people think. They think you need to wait until your plant is big and fully grown for the season. Not true. For example, Basil. this plant can become spindly if not trimmed regularly. For basil, you want to trim “up” from the bottom. leaves grow in pairs directly across from each other, as soon as you have 4 –6 healthy pairs it is ready to prune. You always want to leave two good sets of leaves on your plant. So, cut you plant immediately above the second set of leaves from the ground.

A little technical info for you (ooh, don’t I just sound like an expert? LOL):

The pruning process stresses the plant. And what that means is once you prune it, the plant “thinks” it is in danger and as a self defense, it sends out lots of new branches. This gives you a fuller and healthier plant. If your basil plant is already looking limp, you need to wait for it to perk back up before you do this.

This applies not only to basil but most other members of the mint family (did you know that basil is part of the mint family? ).

Now back to your other herbs (other than the mint family).

Once they have reached 6-8 inches with several levels of leaves, it’s time to start using them and help them grow bigger and fuller.

When you have achieved this size, take your snippers and cut off the first 1 or 2 leaf sections.

snipping herbs 001Cut down the first set of leaves down to the second set. No plucking leaves!

snipping herbs 002Snip as close as possible to the set of leaves under the top set.

snipping herbs 004What this does is force all the water and nutrients to the already existing leaves and stem instead of wasting the plants energy to keep the area that leaves have been plucked off  fed. Now the plant will concentrate on feeding the healthy plant and create new life.

Okay, with those lovely pictures being shown to give you an idea of what I am talking about, I need to go and re-cut this plant because it is an applemint. And as I explained above, mint will grow fuller and healthier if snipped from the bottom up. This was just a good plant to show the”snipping” process.

Keep in mind that most plants will send out new branches wherever you snip them.

Okay, one last tidbit of information:

Always cut your plants first thing in the morning. Before the sun is full blast. Why? Because the sun dries the natural oils of the plant. They kind of retreat to the stem so, there goes a lot of the flavor. Cut them while the natural oils and all the flavor are intact ~ before noon.

I hope you found this interesting and helpful! And thank you to those of you who have taken the time to drop me an email with your questions! I really appreciate it.

I will be joining:

Tutorial Tuesday


  1. Hi Diann, thanks for this great garden information!!!


  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The timing couldn't be more perfect for this tutorial.

  3. Excellent tips. I was wondering how cut my basil so it would branch out. Thanks for the info.

  4. thanks for the advice....I have a small herb garden and enjoy it so much!!

  5. Going to stop "plucking" now! Thanks!

  6. Thanks for the "stop plucking" advise....I was a plucker! I have both mint and basil, but what about stevia? I "pluck" my leaves until the end of the season when I cut the whole plant to harvest all leaves. Thanks!

  7. how shoud I cut my chives and how you have heb drying tips

  8. Great information! Thanks! I've just planted some herbs (inside since it is so early in the season) and am excited to see what happens! I found your blog through Pinterest and it is a huge help! Thanks!

  9. you cut the pair of leaves from the top, but basil and other herbs you cut at the bottom ???

  10. any tips on cutting chives?

    1. Chives you snip the green onion like spikes down at the bottom. About 1/4 - 1/2 inch from the bottom. Keep snipping these, but don't forget to leave a few blooms for seeds and don't completely shave the plants bald! =)

  11. any tips for cutting chives?

  12. I also would love info for trimming chives as well as my parsley!

  13. Personally, I just cut my chives off at the bottom, only what I need for a plant looks great and it always grows back...I could be wrong but I've had it for a couple years in a pot and it just keeps growing and giving...(it is a garlic chive and is lovely flavoring in soups, stews, eggs, meats and salads!)

  14. Personally, I just cut my chives off at the bottom, only what I need for a plant looks great and it always grows back...I could be wrong but I've had it for a couple years in a pot and it just keeps growing and giving...will transplant to a bigger pot at the end of this season though. (mine is a garlic chive's flavor is excellent for soups, stews, eggs, meat, salads & such...I even eat it fresh right off the plant sometimes).


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your ideas. If you ask a question, I will answer it here in a comment back to you. Please check back! Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful day! Diann :)