Maintaining Your Herbs

Herbs are generally quite robust plants but appreciate a little attention. Leaving them to do their own thing is tempting, but many can get carried away if untended and spread themselves everywhere, so maintaining them is essential.

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Spread Out the Workload

Throughout the gardening year there is always something that can be usefully done, but in spring and fall there rarely seem to be enough hours in the day, so get as much done in the winter as you can. Try to plan your new schemes in the fall so the hard digging can be done on dryer days in early winter and the soil can be ready for planting in the spring. Pruning and cutting back do not have to be done in the fall—left standing, stems and seedheads provide a habitat and food source for wildlife. In summer, much of the harvesting, pruning, and pinching out is best done in small doses—it makes the process more enjoyable.

Pinching Out

By pinching out the growing tips of herbs such as basil (Ocimum), the plant bushes out as its energy is redirected to lateral buds lower down the stem. Avoid the temptation to just pick off the odd leaf.

Create Fuller Plants by Pinching the TipEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited


This is essential to reduce competition for light, water, and nutrients, but take care not to damage your herbs by over-enthusiastic hoeing. This can be an easy task if done regularly, but onerous if left too long.

Garden Maintenance Includes WeedingEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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Excerpted from Simple Steps: Herbs

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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