Border Of Flowers Herbs And Leaves On A White Background
(Image credit: botamochi)

Growing herbs is an excellent way to bring fresh herbs into your kitchen for little or no money, but there are some things you need to keep in mind in order to keep your herb plants producing the best tasting leaves. One of the things to keep in mind is that you need to cut off the flowering tops as soon as you see them.

Flowering Tops on Herbs

In the early stages of plant growth, the herb plants put all of their energy into producing leaves and roots. This is because the leaves and root will produce energy for a plant-- enough energy so that the plant can do what a plant thinks it should do. To a plant, its only reason to exist is to produce other plants. In order to do this, most plants must produce seeds. The way a plant produces seeds is through flowers. Once the plant has what it decides is enough leaves and roots, it will begin to produce flowers. Once a flower develops, all of the plant's energy (which previously went into producing leaves and roots) goes into producing a flower and then seeds. All of the energy that was previously being funneled into the leaves is gone and because of this a chemical reaction occurs that makes the leaves on the herb plant bitter and not as tasty as they had been. The plant will also stop producing new leaves.

Cutting Tops Off Herb Plants

When an herb flowers, this does not mean that you need to abandon the plant. Fixing this problem is very simple. Remove the flowering top. Once the flowers are removed from the plant, the plant will once again funnel the energy back into producing leaves and the chemicals in those leaves will return to their previous (and much tastier) levels. Regular pinching and harvesting is an excellent way to keep herb plants from flowering and going to seed. Also, keeping herbs in their ideal conditions will also slow the time in which an herb plant goes to seed. Many herbs, when they find themselves in situations that are stressful, such as drought or extreme heat, will speed up the flowering process in an attempt to produce seeds before they die. Avoiding this situation is best. If you remember to cut off the flowers from your herb plants, you can greatly prolong the window of harvest you have for these plants. Cutting the flowering tops off will not hurt your herb plant and will help keep your kitchen stocked with yummy herbs.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.