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How to Fix Woody Basil Stems (and Prevent It as Well)?

Basil is a versatile herb that is very popular in the kitchen. Basil, like other herbs, is simple to grow. Even so, basil plants can have a number of issues, among these are basil plants with woody stems. If you have basil stems turning into wood, read on to learn about how to fix woody stems in basil.

Basil plants with woody stem.

Basil is a lovely annual herb that can be used in a variety of ways. It’s also simple to cultivate and may be extremely prolific given the right growing circumstances. Basil plants, on the other hand, are susceptible to a variety of problems, one of which is the development of woody stems.

The good news is that you can treat and prevent woody basil stems by cutting the stem as it’s getting brown, trimming any blackened areas of the plant, and making sure the plant develops in the appropriate circumstances. These are some of the broad strategies that may be used to treat and prevent the development of woody basil stems.

Fixing Woody Basil Stems

If your basil stems are becoming black or you’re having trouble mending your basil plants or you’re trying to get rid of woody basil, the following tips may be helpful to you.

1. Cutting Foliage 

Gardener cutting basil foliage using garden scissor.

You need to cut away all of the foliage that is located on the top of the basil plants. This is the first step in reviving a basil plant with a stem that has hardened into wood.

Now, removing its leaves will cause your basil plant to direct its energy as well as resources into generating new foliage. However, this will drastically reduce the likelihood that it will produce blossoms and will cause it to live for a shorter amount of time. Even after the stem of the basil plant has become woody, there is still a chance that the plant may be saved by cutting its leaves.

2. Cut the Dead Branches

To create room on the basil plant for new branches, it is better to remove any of the ones that are already dead first. When you prune the basil plant and remove the branches that have already died, you encourage the plant to produce new branches. This activity is a stride toward stimulating the restoration of a woody Basil plant and it’s very effective at achieving this goal.

3. Cut out the Bottom of the Plant

When all other strategies for reviving the basil plant fail, it may be necessary to cut off the bottom of the plant. This may be the best course of action to take when attempting to revive the plant and all you have to do is cut through the stem with a little saw at a location that is below the decaying region.

This action will make it possible for the plant to begin the growth process all over again, however this time it’ll have the benefit of having mature roots. If you need more advice on how to do this properly, you should take it to a nursery to get professional assistance.

4. Use Anti-fungal Spray

Bonide (BND883) - Fungal Disease Control, Fung-onil Multi-Purpose Ready to Use Fungicide (32 oz.)

Another option that you have is to give an anti-fungal spray a go. This helps to slow down the rotting process. You may treat the potting soil with a few anti-fungal plant-based foods and see if it helps to preserve the plant. You may also apply some wood hardener to the stem as well.

5. Water the Plant

At the very least once a week, you should give your basil plant some water that has been diluted with a mix of milk and water. Furthermore, don’t forget to give the soil some time to dry out in between watering. This will prevent the plant from decaying and spiraling out of control.

How to Prevent Woody Basil Stems?

It is quite easy to prevent a basil plant stem from going brown, although doing so may demand frequent inspections and the greatest care. Here are a few preventative actions that you can take to stop the stems of your basil plant from turning brown.

1. Perform Routine Cutbacks on the Plant

Throughout the growing season, basil leaves should be harvested and the plant’s top should be trimmed periodically. Remove foliage from every plant stem to provide a balanced harvest, but be sure to leave a pair of leaves on every branch to avoid the proliferation of slender branches.

To ensure that the sunshine can penetrate the interior branches, trim away any outside stems that are emaciated, overgrown, or discolored. Remove any clusters of leaves that have formed on the plant’s crown to forestall the formation of flowers. It is recommended to dry as well as store gathered flower buds to retain them in good condition for future use.

2. Take Precautions in Cold Weather

Basil plant under a heavy pouring rain.

Make sure not to leave your plant in locations where it will be exposed to chilly drafts, such as windows or patios, particularly during the fall season. When the temperatures begin to drop below fifty degrees, which often occurs during the fall and winter months, take the plants inside the home.

Make use of mechanical methods to increase the warmth of the air, such as setting up LED grow bulbs as well as central heating. Alternately, you might install heat mats below the plant containers to assist in maintaining a warm temperature in the soil.

3. Avoid Damp Conditions

The basil plant does not like it when it is overwatered. During the growth season, watering should take place every seven to ten days, while during the winter, watering should take place every two weeks or longer.

Before you water the basil plant, make sure the top few inches of the soil have had a chance to dry off. Do not allow the plant to get saturated with water. Rather, collect the water that has been emptied on a saucer, and then quickly dispose of it.

Remove your plants from any locations that are damp to avoid creating a moist environment for them. Place them in locations that get plenty of air and humidity, such as adjacent to the windows or the bathroom.

4. Ensure that Your Plant Gets Enough Sunlight

Basil plants with abundance heat of the sun.

Each day, your plant should get a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sunshine or 12 hours of grow light. To aid in the evaporation of excess moisture, pots constructed from porous materials such as terracotta as well as unglazed pots should be used.

Why Do Basil Stems Turn Woody?

There are a variety of reasons why the stem of a basil plant could start turning woody. Root rot is a potentially catastrophic issue for the plant, even though the majority of the potential outcomes are safe for it. However, by taking fast action, you will be able to swiftly solve the issue of the stems browning. Here are the several potential causes of woody basil stems and how to solve them.

1. Blossomed Basil Plant

Sweet basil plants with purple flowers.

Even though it may seem strange, a basil plant that has flowered will ultimately produce stems that are brown and woody. When allowed to blossom, the plant directs all of its resources into the production of seeds after this stage has been reached. 

If you’re cultivating the plant solely for its leaves, then you should stop it from producing flowers if you want to get the most out of it. Even though it’s impossible to go back from the development stage to the reproduction phase, you can lessen the amount of harm done.

2. Winter-stressed Plant

A basil plant that has been stressed by the winter is just as likely to produce brown, woody stems as it is bark. The plants that are allowed to perish in the freezing temperatures will, as a result, produce more woody stems as a kind of protection against the environment. Make sure you do not leave your plants out in the cold.

3. Root Rot

A basil plant may be susceptible to fungal infection if it is cultivated in suboptimal circumstances, particularly in soil that is too saturated with water or in an environment with high humidity.

As a possible treatment for minor infestations, you may try placing the plant in full sunshine for at least six to eight hours over a few days, or you could use a fungicide. If the symptoms do not go away, you should thoroughly clean the pot before using it again and contemplate throwing away the plant together with the potting soil.

4. Yellowing Basil Leaves

Basil plants with yellowish leaves on the garden.

If you discover your basil plants have begun to produce woody stems before the onset of winter, bring them straight inside. Even though the development of the plant will have naturally slowed down throughout the winter, there will still be some green leaves available for harvesting.

You can also bring the dormant plant back to life by the next year’s growing season if you provide it with the proper care and attention. Start by removing your basil plant from any spots, such as the patio, terrace, or window, where it will be immediately exposed to blasts of chilly air.

Make sure to position it in a location that is exposed to sunlight for at least six to eight hours every day. In any other case, you should continue to place your plant underneath the LED grow light for a full 12 hours every day. Be careful to maintain a humidity level of between 40 and 60 percent at all times.

Are Basil Woody Stems Normal?

Basils are annual plants, which means that they only produce flowers once during each planting season and then become dormant over the winter. Even if it is not typical, there are times when basil stems may begin to brown and will either become squishy or have a feel similar to wood. Whenever the temperatures begin to drop, typically below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant stems will begin to harden to shield themselves against the effects of cold stress.

In the winter, it is not unusual for basil stems to get somewhat woody; thus, you need not be concerned and instead put the plant inside. Furthermore, a basil plant that has flowered will begin to produce brown, woody stems, which is an indication that the plant has finished its period of growth and has moved into its phase of reproduction.

Remember that the basil plant is susceptible to changing weather patterns as well as the conditions in which it grows, and the developing woody stem is its way of reporting issues. It is very necessary to provide your basil plant with a site that is suitably warm and well-lit, and also to water them once every seven to ten days. In addition, make sure that its leaves are collected and that it is pruned every two weeks throughout the growing season to avoid flowers from forming.