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Basil Stems Turning Woody? (Reasons and Solutions)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Growing Basil could be a little tasking and would require some high levels of patience.

This requirement is because the Basil plant tends to be affected by several problems during its lifespan.

One of the problems you could face while growing Basil is when the plant stems become woody. Many cultivators face this problem, and as a result, it requires attention.

What could be the cause, though? Let’s find out.

Why do Basil Plants turn woody? Basil plants turn woody when you do not prune them enough. Failure to harvest the Basil leaves causes the Basil plant to grow flowers. This action of flowering, therefore, stimulates the development of woody stems.

Why Are My Basil Plant Stems Turning Brown?

Basil plant stems turn brown due to a few reasons. First, the Basil plant stem’s change from Green to brown indicates discomfort.

Alternatively, it is an effect of activities on the plant’s body.

A Basil plant’s stem may turn brown due to several environmental or biological factors. They are listed below:

1. A plant disease or infection can make the Basil plant’s stems turn brown.

The reason is that Fusarium, a disease-causing organism, goes into the Basil plant through its xylem tissues, transporting nutrients and water to other parts of the plant.

Now, to fortify itself against the harmful effects of the Fusarium, Basil plants release resin-like gum to trap the disease in a single compartment of its stem.

While this tussle is going on, the Basil plant’s growth slowly declines. Its leaves are yellow and curl, and the stem starts getting brown from the bottom to the top of the plant. The plant may die if you do not check this.

2. Basil plant stems may turn brown due to swift root and stem rot. In addition, the roots and stem of basil may rot because of the action of some fungi.

So, these fungi initiate the process of Basil plant root and stem rot by attacking the plant. This, in turn, eventually causes changes in the color of Basil’s stem from green to brown.

Because these fungi thrive better in overly wet soil, water-logged soils, and overwatered soils harbor these fungi.

All these infect the Basil plants grown in those areas and initiate rot, making the plant’s roots and stems very soft and eventually brown.

Why Do Plant Stems Become Woody?

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Basil plant stems may become woody and stiff due to negligence on the gardener’s part. However, it may also happen naturally as part of Basil’s life cycle.

In some instances, this phenomenon can be avoidable, while in a few, it can not.

1. A Basil plant may develop a woody stem when you do not prune it regularly. Unlike most plants, the Basil plant has desired constant harvesting.

For this, the Basil tends to produce more leaves on its stem when these leaves are constantly being ripped off.

This activity stimulates the plant to keep on sending more food material to replace the pruned parts.

But when the Basil plant is allowed to grow indiscriminately without the cultivator harvesting its leaves, it develops flowers that signify the close of its lifespan.

The next thing to expect is the hardening of the stem, which quickly turns woody before the plant silently dies off.

Also, when the Basil plant’s stem gets woody, its sleeves are not consumable anymore because they become bitter.

But if the gardener keeps snipping on the Basil leaves, its lifespan would be slightly extended.

2. Also, if a Basil plant reaches the end of its lifespan, its stem becomes woody before it dries up and dies off.

This occurrence is inevitable because, as an annual plant, Basil’s life spans over one year. And at the end, it produces seeds before its stems become woody and die off.

This event is a natural process that ensures the continuity of the Basil plant life as it is grown from generation to generation.

“We recommend pruning your plants regularly with a high-quality pruning shear.”

How Do You Fix Woody Basil Stems?

Who says you cannot fix woody Basil stems? Although this phenomenon looks pretty bad initially, you can take care of it with conscious efforts.

Here are some ways of recuperating woody Basil stems:

Step – 1

you should remove all the foliage from the top of the Basil plant. This process is the first step towards advancing the recovery of a Basil plant whose stem has turned woody.

Removing leaves from your Basil plant helps it focus its energy and resources on recovering new leaves, reducing the probability of producing flowers and completing its lifespan.

Even at the point where Basil’s stem has turned woody, pruning its leaves might save the day.

Step – 2

It would be best to cut out all the dead branches on the Basil plant to make space for fresh ones.

Cutting out the already dead branches from the Basil plant stimulates the plant to grow new ones you would undoubtedly expect. This action is a step toward activating the recovery of a woody Basil plant.

Step – 3

Sometimes, cutting out the bottom of the Basil plant might be the best thing to do when all other attempts at recuperating the Basil plant do not yield positive results.

This move would allow the plant to start growing again, but this time the Basil plant would have the advantage of possessing already developed roots.


A few times, a Basil plant’s stem becoming woody may be another natural step in the plant’s life cycle. Sometimes, it could be a result of neglect by the gardener.

Either way, reviving the Basil plant is never an impossible thing to do. However, some carefully calculated steps will most likely aid the Basil plant in regaining its natural, productive self.


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