If you want your herb garden to grow into the most luscious and abundant, then you need to know how to prune herbs. Compliance with all the rules can allow you to create an incredible garden rich in delicious and aromatic herbs, a walk-through that is turning into an aromatherapy session. Especially on hot days, when the air is filled with the healing aromas of lavender, thyme, sage, and rosemary. And what opportunities these plants open up for creating culinary masterpieces! After all, the taste of the same dish can magically change depending on what kind of spice you add to it. Finally, one cannot but pay tribute to the beauty. Here, fragrant beauties can give odds to many ornamental plants. While it’s easy to grow these beautifully fragrant herbs, not all growers know how to cut herbs properly to avoid damaging the plants. We have prepared a herb guide and want to tell all the nuances of harvesting these fragrant plants.
When to Harvest Herbs
Collecting herbs should be started when the plant has enough foliage to support growth. Thus, at one time you can collect as much as 75% of the growth of the current season. It is best to harvest early in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the day begins. Remove herbs before flowering, otherwise, the number of leaves would be less.
How to Harvest Herbs
How to Trim the Basil?
The collection of spices is carried out when young plants reach a height of 15-20 cm. As a rule, this time falls in the second half of July and early August. As soon as the first buds appear on the bushes, you can harvest your first crop. For basil to delight you with its harvest several times in one season, cut off the leaves of this spicy herb, and do not uproot it. If you pull out the bushes by the roots, then you can already forget about re-harvesting. It is not necessary to cut off the entire bush, but part of the leaves, leaving 3-4 leaves on the main stem of the plant. The partial cutting of the leaves allows an even richer leaf mass to grow.
How to Prune Cilantro?
You should trim cilantro when the stems reach 15-20 cm in length. Press or pinch individual stems to the ground. Unfortunately, cilantro is a short-lived herb and is best harvested before flower stalks begin to grow. The point is, cilantro would grow back after cutting. However, if it starts to bloom, then you urgently need to remove the peduncles. Otherwise, the leaves would coarsen and become inedible. Therefore, cilantro should not be allowed to bloom.
How to Trim Dill?
Start harvesting fresh dill when the plants are 15-20 cm tall. You can also harvest the seeds in the green stage for pickling or after drying completely for storing spices.
How to Prune Rosemary?
You can carry out the procedure for pruning rosemary at almost any time: in the spring, summer, or fall. But in the latter case, pruning is performed no later than 4-5 weeks before the onset of the first frost. If you trim a rosemary bush too late in the fall, then the plant would focus on forming tender and new growth. But during this period, the bush should deal with the protection and hardening of the old growth. In cases where the rosemary bush has not hardened, it can be severely damaged in winter and even die.
If pruning is carried out to give the plant a beautiful shape, then you need to remove all unnecessary branches. In cases where, during formative pruning, it is required to remove more than 1/3 of the shoot, the procedure must be performed in several stages. Re-pruning should be done no earlier than three months later. During this time, the rosemary would recover and calmly endure the new procedure. If pruning is done to make the plant more dense and lush, you can remove about 2.5-5 cm of branches. In this case, branch division is stimulated, and the plant becomes more dense and branched. This method is also recommended when rosemary is grown as a spice, and you want to get the maximum amount of green twigs and foliage.
How to Prune Parsley?
When parsley is 15-20 cm high, pruning must be done with scissors, leaving about 4 centimeters from the ground. Further, the greens would grow from what you left. If you cut off all the leaves and stems at the root, the parsley may begin to dry out and prevent re-harvesting. After pruning, it is necessary to water the garden well and add potash fertilizer. Expect new greens in 1.5 weeks.
Performing such simple manipulations throughout the season, you can harvest the parsley about 3-4 times.
How to Prune Oregano?
About a month after transplanting (or when the shoots reach a height of 15-20 cm in a pot), the oregano is harvested, cutting the stems 1/3 as needed. This pruning in combination with top dressing leads to the formation of additional shoots. In the open field, oregano is cut once in the first year, and in subsequent ones – 3-4 times per season.
How to Trim the Mint Plant?
Don’t be afraid to pinch off a few mint sprigs when you need them, but if you need large amounts of mint, wait until pruning time. If you want a low-growing layer of mint, you can keep it for just 10 cm. This is a good height for mint grown in small containers. Otherwise, let it grow 15-20 cm in height before pruning it. The cut of the stem must be done near the ground. In addition, the plant should be cut to a third of its length. The collection is carried out in the morning, since at this time of the day the plant contains the largest amount of essential oil. You can harvest it two to three times during the entire growing season.
How to Trim Thyme?
For everyday use, you can harvest thyme at any time. But if your goal is to prune large amounts for drying, then prune the herbs before the plants blooming. Keep in mind that thyme is a woody plant, and you would need sharp scissors to harvest it. Never try to break off the stems with your hands, this can damage the plant.
How to Harvest Melissa?
You can harvest the crop in about a month after transplanting the seedlings in a container. You can pinch off individual leaves with your hands, but it is better to cut off the side branches. Use dry or fresh melissa leaves in fruit salads or teas.
Don’t worry, you don’t need special equipment to cut fresh herbs in your gardens and containers. The hands, pruning shears and herb scissors are all you need.
- Feel free to use your hands to pick fresh sprigs of herbs such as garlic, cilantro, basil, and parsley. However, picking woody herbs with your hands can be a bad idea. You risk damaging the plant.
- The herb scissors are a convenient and compact cutting tool. This is great for not only soft herbs like dill, parsley, or basil but also woody herbs like oregano or thyme. Today, you are presented with a wide selection of different scissors in different styles and sizes, most of which are compact enough to fit in a pocket.
- Secateurs would be your indispensable tool when you need to collect a large number of herbs such as oregano, parsley, chamomile, or garlic. They also allow you to make neat cuts when picking woody herbs.
Always use only clean and sharp picking tools. We also recommend you wipe your blades thoroughly between cutting different crops and sharpen them regularly.
Spicy herbs for many centuries have been loyal friends of man, not only improving the taste of our culinary dishes but also carefully preserving our health. Do not forget that the collection of herbs must be carried out at the time of the highest content of essential oils in them. As a rule, it is done before budding, since after that the plant mainly directs all its forces and juices to the formation of flowers and seeds. If you are looking for flowers and seeds, collect fragrant herbs during their flowering or shortly before the seeds ripen. Always collect only healthy, disease-free foliage and flowers. Also, be sure to shake your freshly cut herb bunches well before bringing them home. This would help get rid of insects that may be on the plants.
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