The culinary herb basil (Ocimum basilicum) is easy to grow indoors or outdoors. But what do you do when the basil flowers? Should you let it bloom or cut off the flowers? And if you do, what can you do with the flowers? Is flowering basil still edible? We answer all the questions in this article.
Table of Contents
What to do when basil flowers
Throughout the growing season, healthy basil , grown at home, forms many leaves. But when the growing season is over at the end of summer, the plant blooms. When that happens, you can either cut off the flower buds as soon as they appear to extend the growing season, or you can let them grow to complete the plant’s growth cycle and enrich your garden.
Why does the herb bloom
No matter what variety you have, it will try to bloom at the end of summer. When your plant begins to flower, it means that it is switching from growth mode to reproduction mode. This means that the plant’s energy is going into flowering rather than leaf growth. When basil flowers, the leaves lose their flavor and do not grow back as vigorously when harvested.
Flowering signals that the plant has reached the end of its growing season. Whether it survives the next season depends on the climate in which you live. If you live in an area that experiences frost in the winter, it is unlikely that the plant will survive. It will need to be replanted the next spring. If you wait for it to flower, you can collect the seeds to reseed, or the plant can self-seed.
Flowering basil: keep the plant from flowering.
Because the flavor of basil leaves is affected after flowering, many people want to prevent their basil from flowering. To prevent your plant from flowering, simply watch for the appearance of flower buds and remove them at the first sign. This will stimulate more abundant leaf growth, often allowing you to get in another crop of leaves before the flavor wears off. Pinching off the flower buds helps, but it’s even better to harvest half the plant and make a pesto from it. After a week or two, the plant will have grown even stronger.
Can you still eat basil when it’s in bloom?
Basil flowers are edible and can be used anywhere fresh basil leaves are used. But be careful: fresh flowers often have a bitter taste compared to the fresh herb. So it’s best to try them before serving this edible flower to your family!
Some ideas to try:
- Add flower heads to a salad of tomatoes, basil leaves and mozzarella.
- Chop them and add them to a bowl of fresh pasta
- Sprinkle them over a mixed green salad as a colorful garnish
- Make basil flower pesto with pine nuts and parmesan cheese
- Make vinegar flavored with basil flowers
- A great way to use the essential oils of basil flowers is to make flower vinegar. This is easy to make by infusing the flowers in white vinegar in a jar or bottle.
- You can also soak the flowers in olive oil to make a basil flower oil. Both are great for adding delicious flavor to salad dressings and marinades.
- Try to prepare basil flower tea. Put the flowers in a teapot or cup and pour boiling water over them (the best temperature is just before boiling). Let the tea steep for 3-4 minutes and then strain to remove the flowers before drinking.
- You can also prepare an herbal blend of lavender, lemon balm and/or mint along with the basil flowers.
Let the herb bloom
If you let the plant bloom, attractive purple or white flowers will form that smell wonderful and attract pollinating insects like bees to your garden. If you allow the flowers to mature on the plant, you can collect the seeds as long as the flowers are pollinated. This way you can replant the plant in the spring, which is especially important if you live in an area where it grows as an annual. The leaves should be harvested, as they lose their flavor when flowering begins. You can either dry them to store them , or make a large batch of fresh basil pesto.
Does the plant die after flowering.
Basil survives after flowering, but it is likely to die when temperatures drop in the fall and winter. It is about is an annual herb that grows only in the warmest climates.