I have several herbs in a hydrocultural system. I have recently noticed several budding flowers on some of my basil plants. Since my goal is to maximize leaf yield, should I trim them off to conserve energy?

I have learned from some instructions that I should aggressively prune the top to allow side leaves to come out and to curb its height. I wonder if I should trim off most of the upward shoots.

  • 1
    Most of the energy in a plant is in the terminal buds. Bolting happens when there are temperature extremes or the plant senses it's demise just around the corner. It has to make seed before it dies. Cut those flowers off! Keep the environment stable. No hot days and cold cold nights. The energy you cut OFF at the tips is then translocated to the rest of the plant. Bolting is part of a process, some plants are far more sensitive to environmental changes than others, bolting is a survival response. Spinach, Cilantro, basil are a few of the fast bolters.
    – stormy
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 23:40
  • 1
    Once a plant especially annuals set seed the rest of the plant dies. The point is to frustrate a plant for making seed. The entire plant gets more vigorous, larger, less susceptible to injury, disease and insects. The plant WANTS to live. Once seed is set its JOB is done. Plant heaven?
    – stormy
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 23:45

1 Answer 1


If I get your question right, should you pinch the buds of the basil plant before they flower in order to maximize leaf production?

Answer yes. If you don't trim the buds off, then they will flower, growing up into a tall stalk on your basil plant and producing a tower of seeds. Producing seeds will become Basil plant's "Job 1", and it will neglect leaf production. If you pinch off the tops of the little stems where they are about to flower, the stems will branch into two at that place, and the plant will fill out and you will have lots of leaves.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.