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basil

Posted by Mocknbird Wash, DC (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 12, 05 at 10:32

My basil is mere minutes from bolting. I'm getting smaller, curled leaves and I can see the first flowers appearing.

I still have two months of solid sun left.

Is there anything I can do to reinvigorate the basil?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: basil

nope... just pinch the buds! Unfortunately, it's the way basil is.


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RE: basil

Yes, you can pinch off just the buds, but other suggest to cut off even more to keep the plant going.

Here is some good information on basil by the Herb Society of America.


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RE: basil

Just keep pinching off the tips.


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RE: basil

For me, I have found that just cutting off the buds does not do the trick. I cut more off than just the buds because I use it for cooking, and it also helps to keep my plants from becoming woody.


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RE: basil

Basil doesn't bolt. But it can flower from a very young age, while still a seedling. Cut off the flower if the plant is as young as that, and once the plant matures, don't bother much about the flowers at all. It wants to flower, and it jolly well will! I use hedge-cutters on mine whenever the plant gets too top-heavy with flowers, and cut off about one-third of the entire plant. I use some of the leaves, I use the flowers (they are edible) and the rest I use as mulch.


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RE: basil

Daisy,

I have read your post and several other posts about the belief that basil does not bolt. I hate to be disagreeable, but I have done research that states that basil does, in fact, bolt. And I know that basils bolt in Texas.

In Southern Herb Growing by Madalene Hill (past president of the Herb Society of America) & Gwen Barclay, leading authorities on growing herbs in Texas, they state the following about basils:

They will attempt to bolt into bloom almost as soon as they begin to grow, but keep bloom stalks cut off as much as possible. The plants will become woody as they mature and leaves will be sparser.

And Waynne Cox, with the San Antonio Herb Society states the following about basil:

Be sure not to let it seed and begin to bolt.

I have basils that have been growing in the ground as perennials for five years now because I keep them from bolting.

According to website
bolt/bolting - Common in hot weather and in annuals. Often because the plant is undergoing some stress, it will, seemingly overnight, jump ahead to the flowering stage of its life cycle without first establishing strong vegetative growth. Some varieties --of spinach for example-- have been developed that are bolt resistant.

I hate to be controversial, but I think that this is an issue that appears to have some confusion, at best. I believe, as do my fellow herbiest here in Texas, that basil does bolt.


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RE: basil

Here's an interesting comment from one of my horticulturist friends:

I have always understood bolting to be used when a plant goes to seed before it can be harvested in its desirable state, eg when lettuce or cabbage don't develop a heart, or coriander which produces seeds before you can get to use the leaves. With basil I wouldn't have thought going to flower would constitute bolting as it is still usable, ie you can harvest the leaves, whether it is in flower or not, and you can remove the flowers to promote further leaf growth if you want. You can't do that with bolting lettuce or cabbage, they are considered useless once gone to flower.


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RE: basil

I can't use lemon basil once it starts to flower, it becomes too bitter. Joe


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RE: basil

I've been growing basil for nearly 20 years. I pinch the buds off my plants faithfully, and end up with basil shrubs every September, about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. In the good harvest years, I produce about 40 to 50 jars of pesto. My basil plants get fed about once a month. I've had some pest problems--June beetles love to munch on the leaves--and in rainy summers fungus and root rot problems.


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RE: basil

Daisy,

Again I am not trying to be difficult, but rather to decide whether basil bolts.

Merriam-Webster defines bolt:
Main Entry: 2bolt
Function: verb
5 : to produce seed prematurely

It says nothing about bolting to be used when a plant goes to seed before it can be harvested in its desirable state.

So on Wednesday, at our monthly herb study group meeting, we discussed the issue of whether or not basil bolts. All of us Texas Herbies agreed that it does bolt.

One member, who happens to be a wholesale herb grower, stated that plants bolt when stressed, and it is thereby a means of the perpetuation of the plant species.

And like I stated above:

In Southern Herb Growing by Madalene Hill (past president of the Herb Society of America) & Gwen Barclay, leading authorities on growing herbs in Texas, they state the following about basils:

They will attempt to bolt into bloom almost as soon as they begin to grow, . . . .

So I believe that it is a correct statement to say that basil does bolt.


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RE: basil

sjrb6:
You mentioned putting up pesto......
Do you have a recipe you'd be willing to share? I might have enough to try making some this year. Don't even know if I like it! I have had only one very small plant before in a pot and it didn't do well. I chopped some leaves into spaghetti sauce, but that's it.
Any help is appreciated!
Deanna


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RE: basil

  • Posted by Ksha z9 CA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 14, 05 at 16:49

I have a recipe for pesto. For you and me, let's call it the Besto Pesto in the Westo!

2 med cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
About 2 1/2 - 3 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Pinch of salt

In a blender or food processer (I use a blender), blend olive oil, salt, and garlic. Add pine nuts and basil and blend until it forms a smooth paste. (Usually requires opening the top and pushing it down with a spoon several times. Remove mixture from the blender, add cheese and mix well with a spoon. The more cheese you use, the thicker it will be, so if you like it a little thinner, just use a little less cheese.

If you put it in an airtight container, it will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or even more. And it can be frozen and thawed as well.


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RE: basil

I like a little lemon juice in my pesto. I think it enhances the flavor as well as the color. Bring that puppy out of the freezer on a January evening when that ol' North wind is roaring and dream of summer. Hey, has anyone tried purple basil in pesto? I tucked one into the garden as much for ornamental reasons as anything else and its taking off. Will it make a funky colored mess or will it be that lovely bright purple color, again with a little lemon added? My ordinary basil is flowering, bolting, whatever you wish to call it but I don't find it effects the flavor that much. I think its kinda pretty and I get more than enough fresh basil for this Italian girl to use even if I am lazy and don't get the tops pinched out. Of course I live in zone 4 and there is NO chance that my basil will make it past the end of Sept. That's where my freezer comes in!


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RE: basil

ANY annual that goes to seed has 'bolted' and therefore has spent it's life. If you allow basil (or any annual) to flower and deadhead before they have set seed the plant still keeps on producing and can not complete it's cycle...that is the annuals cycle: foliage, flower, seed, die. Flowering should not make the plant bitter...water stess however, can.

Vera,
Greenhouse/Nursery student :)


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RE: basil

This is just a matter of semantics.
Basil doesn't "bolt" in the same manner one considers bolting in other plants. Yes, it does hasten to flowering in extreme heat, but while the foliage decreases in size & quantity, it doesn't become inedible as with lettuce, spinach, & other plants. You could pinch off the flower stalks of spinach &/or lettuce till the cows come home & you still wouldn't end up with edible foliage. With basil, on the other hand, simply keeping the flowers pinched off will continue to give you a good harvest until the plant is felled by frost.

Good grief!!


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RE: basil

breezyb

As with so many threads, we learn from one another, and this is a "discussion", not argument, about bolting. Maybe you believe that you know everything there is to know about herbs, but then many of us continue to learn about herbs everyday. With over 2,000 herbs, I am continuously studying and learning about herbs every day. And I have been working with and teaching them for 15+ years.

Obviously, the term bolting has different meanings in different parts of the word. To us in Texas, it is when the plant makes flowers before its time due to stress. To others it means whether or not the plant is able to be used for culinary means.

Regardless, this thread is discussing the issue of just what constitutes "bolting", OK? That is why some of us have done research from the authorities on herb growing, and not just stating our own personal ideas.

And I feel that a comment like Good grief!! is inappropriate here on this thread. It has a very condescending note to it. Sorry if you are offended by this thread.


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RE: basil

I've used purple basil for pesto - looks and tastes really good. I usually plant 2 sweet and 1 purple. The purple perks up all kinds of recipes visually.


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RE: basil

I think it's a good idea to pinch off a little more than just the flower buds, but either way works.


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RE: basil

Sorry "ltcollins1949" - this thread is/was NOT a "discussion about what constitutes bolting". The original poster (who lives in Wash. DC - my neck of the woods, not Texas) simply asked what he/she could do to continue to use flowering basil. He/she did not ask "what is bolting". If you go back & read my original reply, I advised to simply pinch the flowers off. I did not get into a know-it-all discussion, nor was I argumentative.

You were the one who went off on a long unasked for tangent about "bolting". And you are also the one who appears to know more than the rest of us - or who at least has a larger library. . . .

And I stand by my & Daisy's "opinion" that basil does not "bolt" - at least not by the definition used by most gardeners (if not by Daniel Webster). It, like most plants, simply flowers & sets seed normally. Stress has nothing to do with it. Pinching the flowers off delays this & encourages the plant to continue to put forth usable growth, unlike other "greens", which, after they "bolt" to seed, are completely useless.


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RE: basil

You know, I still stand by my comment that threads are a learning means, and I am sorry if I offended you. However, I do not believe that I went off on a "tangent". You know, learning is an on-going event. I still don't think that your attitude is called for in any event.

At least in Texas people are far more cordial, and we don't have the "attitude that I have seen with your posts". We have friendly discussions whether we agree or not.

And I still disagree with you on the "stress" issue. I believe and the people that I have consulted with on the issue also disagree with you. Enough said.


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RE: basil

Yup...I'm guilty for getting caught up in the 'bolting' issue when that was not the question orginally asked.

opps,

Vera


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RE: basil

Don't worry ltcollins - you haven't offended me at all.


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RE: basil

ITC1949 sounds like an inflexible didact.


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RE: basil

i am still kind of confused, my basil plant is still very young and starting to get weird on me. I am getting brown leaves and wilting sort of leaves. Should i cut just the leaves that are green and dry them, or cut whole stems off, and what should i do about the flower buds by the top? I only have a few flowers, but lots of buds.

Also, on a related note, my parsley was ready for cutting,and thats not a problem, however, it is looking very dry and not green. Should i let it keep growing to see if it saves itself, should i try to help it, or cut off the good parsley and hope the rest rejuvinates?

Sorry about the numerous, probably pathetic questions, but i am just a young teenager whos never had herbs before! I have no idea what I am doing. :)


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RE: basil

Mockingbird:
Don't be afriad to take off more than just the tip. I have 11 Basil plants inground (for now...later on when it get a little cooler, I plan to dig them up and pot them and bring them indoors for the winter). When they start to "bolt" that is; put out flowers to go to seed, I take off about 2 inches (this will still leave enough stem and leaves for the Basil to put out new growth.) I have done this three different times and my Basil is healthy and HUGE. Just cropped my Basil again today. The Basil is a very happy plant and taking off this amount will keep it growing (and keeping you in Pesto Sauce till Fall) Margaret


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RE: basil

I live in southern China and recently found a basil plant growing at a local agricultural center. They let me dig up a plant and take it home. (A very excting thing as basil is hard to find in China.) So the plant recovered well from the move and started growing quite well. Then a couple of weeks later it started flowering and I cut the stems just below the top leaf node after the flower bud. It continued to grow well and fill out but then recently something has changed. There are small bumps developing on the stalks all the way from the bottom up. At the base of the main stalk the bumps have grown into lots of little mini-root like things. As well the new leaves are turning yellow. Is this normal? I took some clippings a couple of days ago - as I got scared I would lose my one source of fresh basil - and stuck them in water. The bumps are all shooting off into what looks like roots.
It's very hot here and extremely humid. I make sure the pot has good ventilation and I water it regularly. Any advice? Should I bring it inside?
Thanks!


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RE: basil

?????

Just a side note here. I have 2 basil plants that I grew from seed and they've been flowering since they got to about 10" tall which was very early on. Yep-it's been hotter than he!! here all summer long and yep-I've been pickin off those flowers left and right, every day. Love the smell of those blooms when I pick 'em off!!
Happy Basilin' folks!!! :-)))
Robin


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basil FUNGUS?!

There are brown circular spots on my basil leaves. Is this a possible fungus?? and how do I treat it??

TIA


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RE: basil

Hi, I'm new here and also new to herb gardening. I started off this spring with a basil plant in a outdoor pot on my deck. It has been healthy and has been producing very tasty leaves. However, the last couple of weeks I'm getting more and more of the seeds and flower stalks. I've been removing them and the plant seems to be doing ok. My inquiry is: Is there any use for these seeds/buds/flowers that I have picked in cooking? Don't want to throw anything away that might be useful. Thanks


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RE: basil

I didnt notice any suggestions concerning browning the pine nuts lightly before making the pesto. I prefer the taste this way. Just watch them close! It is never fun to waste pine nuts.


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RE: basil

There are basiclaly two kinds of pine nuts. a very expensive and sweet flavorful one and the cheaper milder one. The more expensive ones are used as toppings on macaroons and Itlian cookies, while the cheaper ones are usually ground up and added to a pesto with garlic, olive oil and vinegar. I made a big batch of pesto and used tortaloni (not the smaller tortalini) for the pasta. Served cold. There is nothing good about a burned nut of any kind.


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RE: basil

Please excuse my ignorance, but what's bolting, and what's so bad about it?


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RE: basil

Bolting is when a plant that is typically used for its leaf material goes to flower and the flavor of the leaves of that plant change once it starts to flower. Many plants, like lettuce for example, become inedible once this has happened. (The lettuce becomes too bitter to eat once it bolts.) For some plants, like cilantro, it also signifies the beginning of the final stage of its life cycle.

For basil specifically, I don't taste much difference - at least with the basil I've grown, in the pre-bolt and post-bolt leaves but some people really don't care for the flavor of basil after it has bloomed.

FataMorgana

Here is a link that might be useful: What is bolting?


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RE: basil

Didn't we just answer the 'bolting' question a few days ago??


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