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How to Prune Herbs


Within the first year, many herb gardens either grow out of control, die, or a little of both. The reason is that many people do not know how to prune herbs. Proper pruning is a must if you want a productive and lush herb garden. Herb gardens require your attention. Out of everything you must do to care for your herbs, pruning is most important. This guide will explain everything you need to know about pruning.

Why Prune

There are several reasons to prune your herbs. To begin with, regular pruning produces bountiful growth. It also inspires fresh, bushier growth and prevents seeding and flowering. Furthermore, it keeps plants in shape and compact while promoting air circulation and providing plenty of room for other herbs. Best of all, you can use the trimmings to breed new plants.

Types of Herbs


Generally, there are two kinds of herbs: evergreen and herbaceous. Herbs like oregano, basil, cilantro, stevia, mint, lemon balm, chives, etc are herbaceous. These lack woody stems. Most herbaceous plants grow vigorously during the spring and summer and die in winter. These plants require only light pruning.


Evergreen herbs include thyme, rosemary, bay, sage, lavender, etc. These herbs grow vigorously all year round with little care and need hard pruning.

When to Prune Herbs

Herbaceous herbs, grown for their tasty, sweet foliage, should be pruned regularly. New growth should be pinched from the top of the plants often. Start this process with young herbs. Refrain from waiting until they are overgrown and gangling.

Evergreen herbs need only be pruned once per year. Pruning in the spring when there is new growth is best, but pruning in the fall is acceptable as well. Evergreens become woodier as they age. Woody herbs are stout, however, no more than one-third of their growth should be trimmed away at a time. Pruning too harshly can harm or kill the plants.

How to Prune Herbs

Herbaceous herbs need to be trimmed regularly but lightly. Trim primarily off the top, passing over the sides. This results in productive and bushier growth. Follow these tips for pruning herbaceous herbs: Pinch the top section back, as well as the first cluster of leaves, directly over the leaf node. This will clear off the terminal bud, allowing the lateral buds to grow, causing the plant to get fuller and produce more side shoots and stems. If you wish to trim more, remember to cut above the lateral buds or the leaf node. You can perform this sort of pruning when you are harvesting the plants, or at any time. Be sure to keep your herbs balanced and do not over-prune. Cut off blooms as they grow. This maintains energy towards growing foliage.


Evergreen herbs can survive without pruning. However, to produce fresh and tastier foliage, as well as maintain size and shape, it is necessary. Follow these tips for pruning evergreen herbs: For healthy plants, cut away all decaying, crossing, and dead woody stems. On the other hand, if the herb is overgrown or leggy, cut away approximately one-third of your plant. Do not trim these plants when the growing season is over, or when they are dormant.
You need only prune these herbs once yearly.


Pinching your Herbs

Regardless of what type of herbs you have, pinching young plants stops leggy growth and produces a more robust plant. Pinching also enhances the plant’s structure. The stem tips should be pinched out along the initial cluster of leaves. When the plants are 4 to 5 inches in height and have produced a few clusters of leaves, pinch off the tips. Otherwise, locate a couple of buds. trim away the growth above the leaves and buds using your fingernails or sharp shears. This activates the buds, producing a bushier plant.