How to Grow Big Basil Plant Like a Shrub for Unlimited Harvest

Suyash is a Master Gardener and the Editorial and Strategy Director at With a focus on houseplant care, he combines over a decade of hands-on horticultural experience with editorial expertise to guide and educate plant enthusiasts.
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Want to grow a Big Basil Plant that makes it look like a small shrub? Well, we have the secrets for you!

How to Grow Big Basil Plant Like a Shrub

With basils, we always think about a stubby plant that’s growing in a small pot on a sunny windowsill. What if we tell you that it can be trained to grow like a 4-6 feet tall specimen? Sounds impossible? Well, it’s not!

Pick the Tallest Basil

Well, before you go ahead with this quest of growing basil like a mini tree, you need to pick a variety that has a tendency to grow tall naturally. For this, the best ones are:

  • Thai Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum): This one generally grows up to 2-3 feet high naturally, so yes, this makes for a pretty good specimen to grow taller.
  • Mammoth Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Mammoth’): As the name suggests, it is popular for its giant leaves, and can achieve a height of 2-4 feet.
  • Lettuce Leaf Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Lettuce Leaf’): Again, like the name, its leaves resemble to that of lettuce’s, and it can grow to a height of 2-3 feet naturally.
  • Red Rubin Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Red Rubin’): An ornamental variety, this plant, under the right growing conditions, generally touches 2-4 feet height.

How to Grow Basil Like a Shrub?

1. Pinch the Top of the Plant

How to Grow Big Basil Plant Like a Shrub 2

Well, to grow any plant bushier and taller, pinching is the way to go, and the same applies to basil. Do this on the top section of the plant, as this will promote more upper growth, adding to the overall height, helping the herb to branch out.

The best way to do it is to use your fingers, as basil stems are not that tough. Do it above all the nodes.

2. Take Out Flowers

Flowers are notoriously famous for sucking out any plant’s energy into maintaining them, and basil is no different. What happens with basil is, once it blooms, it spends its nutrients into producing seeds at the expense of growing stems and leaves, which can stunt its upper growth.

So, it will be a good idea to remove the buds the moment you spot them, in order to help the plant use its energy into growing upper stems and larger foliage.

3. Prune it at the Bottom and Sides

Well, the best way to stimulate basil to grow on the top section, while also making it visually appear taller than it is actually, is by pruning it from the lower sides.

Start doing this when the plant achieves a height of about 2-3 feet. Take away the side stems and leaves, leaving only the straight ones at the top. It will help basil to focus on the remaining top growth, utilizing all its energy into it.

4. Provide Support and Stake the Top Stems

Big Basil Plant Like a Shrub

After you have taken out all the lower growth, the plant will have a top heavy structure, and this is the time to provide support to it to save it from getting toppled down with wind, or accidental touches.

You can go with any wooden, bamboo, or plastic pole to support basil. Using ropes, gently ties the main stem to the support pole, making sure you are not tying them too hard, as it can damage the plant.

As the plant will continue to grow, keep making changes to the ties and support pole, in accordance with its height.

Some Quick Tips on Maintaining Basil as a Shrub

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  • Basils loves light, and grows THE BEST in full sun exposure. Do make sure the herb gets a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sunlight every day.
  • Regularly feed the plant to support its upward growth. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer, dilute it to 1/2 of its strength, and use it once in 6-8 weeks.
  • Refrain from overwatering basil, and do it only when the topsoil feels a little dry to the touch.

Watch this video for more information

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