‘Technically, it’s pruning,’ herb mistakes to avoid

It is my conviction that herbs grow better if I keep eating the leaves. You see, if my newly transplanted herbs (lavender, Moroccan mint, lemon verbena, basil… +3 more) are under the impression that they are besieged, they will respond by producing more leaves. Win win, capsize (cah-peesh)?

I call this “standing vigilant” — because I care about preparing my plants for the real world.

My sister, on the other hand, said that if she were my herbs, she would revolt by refusing to sprout new leaves. Not quite to the degree of the French Revolution where my herbs will demand “Off with Her head,” but it got me thinking… is there scientific proof behind my theory?

How to dry your herbs (image credit: useofherbs.com)

Yes! In fact, my method is (technically) called pruning.

Novice gardeners may make the mistake of not cutting early and often. Prune your plants regularly so you persuade your plants to spread out instead of growing straight up, becoming tall and heavy.

Here’s the advice found on the Skinny Gourmet blog:

You want to cut the herb just above a set of growing leaves… when you cut the plant that way, the originally trimmed stem will no longer grow. However, two new stems will grow around the original cutting, creating a “V” shape.

A blog post may not be a credible source, but what about The Old Farmer’s Almanac? Here’s what it says about oregano (apply to other herbs as well):

Regular trimming will not only cause the plant to branch again, but also avoid legginess.

Right. Constant stimulation. Time to take my trimming scissors and enlighten my herbs about the real world.


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