Flowers on Basil

eileen_plantsJuly 21, 2007

Recently, I grew four basil plants from seed under lights. They did beautifully, and now one of them actually has tiny white flowers at the very top of the plant! Another basil plant is starting to get them as well. I am completely new to herbs and was just wondering if this is common? Also grew oregano, dill and sage, no flowers, though. All of these plants were grown indoors and remain there. Am worried about when they outgrow their lighting system, however, don't think my south window will be sunny enough and unfortunately I have no garden. Would love to keep them all going, any suggestions?

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Yes, this is normal. Basil is a flowering plant. You probably want to pinch off those flowers to encourage the plant to keep growing, to bush out. Basil can grow quite large, so give it a nice sized pot with good drainage. Basil also likes to be fed occasionally. But not too much. You don't want any soil toxicity. Give it as much sun as you can. Basil LOVES full sun.

Some people claim to notice a difference in taste after the basil has flowered (not as good), and although I keep mine pinched back, an occasional flower does appear....but I've never noticed any difference in the quality of taste. I grow mine outdoors, though.

Try to avoid keeping the basil up against the glass of the windows. The light that filters in isn't the same as if it were outdoors, and the basil will "fry". But it needs LOTS of sun to grow big, strong and healthy.

And pinch those heads off if you want to get a nice bushy basil plant. :-)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 10:44AM
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Basil will flower from a very young age, and won't stop doing it until it dies. I don't notice any difference in the flavour of the leaves when it flowers, and the only reason I chop the flowers off is because the plant becomes top-heavy, and may lift itself out of the ground. Regular pruning also helps to keep the plant nice and bushy, with lots of new leaves. My plants are too big for 'pinching' - I use hedge-trimmers!

Those flowers are edible, too.

Basil can become quite a decent-sized plant (a metre or more in all directions), so it's best and happiest out in the garden in full sun and well-drained soil.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 6:23PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Some basils can reach above 4 foot tall. Growing under lights will not give you the best flavors. Good luck..

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 12:02PM
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I have a couple of purple basil plants in the yard that are doing very well. They just started flowering and I am leaving the flowers there for the bees insects etc. Mine are two feet already. The lower leaves are going a little thin so I may cut them back. Is that a good idea?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 6:34AM
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It's a good idea to cut them back. Pruning helps the plant to become more bushy. If you don't do it, you'll end up with bare stems on most of the plant, and a shallow 'umbrella' of leaves (actually, mostly flowers!) on the top. Chop off its head!

Basil really does attract the bees, a wonderful side-benefit of growing it. It's one of the reasons it's a companion plant for tomatoes.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Should the head of flowers really be "chopped off"? Or should all of the individual flowers be pulled off? Just curious as to what is best for the plant.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 1:00PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Cut the plant back. That will not only remove the flowering stalk, but will encourage new vegetative shoots. Use something sharp for the job so that the stems don't get mangled.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 2:10PM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

I've pinched and used scissors. I have one plant Lesbos Basil that has very small leaves, don't need chopping to use and hasn't flowered at all.

The biggest plant by far is Mr's Burns Lemon and I haven't even decided how to use it, but it sure smells good.

I generally take a combination of Nufar F1, Genovese sweet, Sacred, and lesbos and use them on my tomato bruschetta and margherita pizza.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 10:05AM
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i,m growing several basil plants in my garden. and following the advice of pinching off the flowers has really made my plants get very bushy and pretty. they smell amazing! i think i'm goona let one of my plants flowers since i just read that they're edible, to put in salads.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 1:32PM
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I bought this plant this year. It is a flowering basil--not a basil with flowers. I have never seen one. The leaves are not edible, but the flowers are like basil flowers left to go wild. When they go by, you pinch them and they come back.
Anyone heard of this plant.
Stands about 3'high on a thick tree like stalk.
I would love more info on it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 5:16PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Can you take a closer up picture of the flowers and leaves?


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:32PM
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Hi, Thanks for responding
Does this picture help?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 9:40AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

It does appear to be a basil, though not any I'm familiar with if it is inedible. I thought it might be a holy basil from the first picture, but from the close-up its not. Holy basil has fuzz to it. I would assume the care is similar to sweet basil.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Thanks so much for your help!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 11:07PM
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Lynne, where did you get a flowering basil? I've seen an oregano that's grown for its flowers, but it's edible, too.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 8:15AM
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I have the same purple flowering basil plant and I have dehydrated the leaves and ground them in a coffee grinder and they are edible. I wasn't aware though that the flowers were edible? Can these be hydrated and used as well?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 2:38PM
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