April 15, 2010 3:00pm CST
I have a question about my basil plants that my little girl has grown from seed. I often use the basil leaves in my cooking, but the other day when I went to cut some I noticed that some of the plants had started to flower, tiny little white flowers are starting to appear at the tips of the plants. Now I am no expert so I don't know if this should be happening. Until I know for sure I don't really want to eat it again.
• Cambridge, England
15 Apr 10
Basil flowers readily but, unfortunately, when it does it tends to turn bitter. You should pinch out the flower heads as soon as they appear in order to prolong the usefulness of your plants. Actually, it may be time to start some new plants from seed and to harvest the old ones completely to make pesto or to freeze, dry or preserve what you have. There are many ways of preserving basil. You can put the leaves in oil or you can layer them in salt or you can chop the leaves, add water and freeze them in ice cube trays. None of these really preserve the character of fresh basil, however, and dried basil is even further from the fresh leaf.
• Cambridge, England
16 Apr 10
Thanks for the BR Something else I should have said: Many plants begin to flower when they are stressed in some way. This is because, for them, a stress like lack of water or nutrients, too much competition or too much sun can signal a season when the plant won't survive so it goes into seed producing mode. Of course, plants flower naturally and there is, in the end, nothing you can do to stop them but if you keep basil not too crowded, well watered (though too much makes the leaves go yellow) and in good light but not strong sun, it will reward you with bigger leaves and longer before it goes to seed.
17 Nov 10
Hello Beauty We don't eat basil normally, in almost homes of hindus here in india you can see basil plants in the court yard, basil (TULSI)is considered as holy plant, they are worshiiped by us as a goddess , we light lamps and insense sticks near it every morning and evening; the leaves have wonderful medicinal property.. Incidentally today we are observing a festival that symbolises marriage of goddess Tulsi with god Vishnu.. you can eat the leaves even if the flowers are there, there is no harm lol Thank you so much for this discussion. Professor. . Cheers have a great day ahead. God bless you. Welcome always.
• United States
15 Apr 10
You probably don't want to eat the flowers but the leaves are still fine. The plant has simply reached a mature state and gone into bloom. There is nothing wrong with it. My mother allows her to go to bloom every year and we still continue to eat it.
14 May 10
The leaves will become bitter if you allow it to flower and "go to seed". I prune almost every week not just to ensure that the basil will not flower, but also because it's fun to propagate basil via cuttings. It's quite easy too. I suggest you do the same.