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How To Fix Bitter Basil Plant? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Basil is a very delicate plant to grow and requires a lot of time and dedication. A minor step gone wrong could cost you your entire basil garden if there is no carefulness to the maximum.

One of the common conditions that can result from this is the bitterness of basil plants.

Bitterness in basil plants is primarily caused by overgrowth, overwatering, and slime molds. Fortunately, these mistakes can be fixed by pruning, giving it special care, and planting varieties.  

Why Does My Basil Plant Taste Bitter?

It is very frustrating having to nurture an entire basil garden and harvest bitter leaves afterward. But these bitter leaves are not naturally bitter.

They often have factors that cause the basil bush to go bitter.

Some of them are listed below:

1. Basil leaves are most likely to grow very bitter if their flowers are allowed to mature fully and begin to bear seeds.

2. The whole basil shrub will also have a high tendency to be bitter if you overwatered the plant during farming.

3. Slime molds: This is a fungus but doesn’t infect the leaf with any disease. That is to say; it is not a parasite.

It only houses on the leaves of the basil plants, and when these molds have stayed on the leaf for an extended period, it causes it to go bitter when tasted.

Can I Eat Bitter Basil?

When basil leaves turn bitter, they become very unappealing to the taste buds, and most people do not want to experience having bitter basil in their mouths.

However, this does not mean that bitter basil leaves are not edible or harmful.

If you still wish to consume your basil leaves despite the bitter taste, then there are a few things you might want to try out to reduce this bitter taste before consumption.

Here are a few things to do to these leaves:

1. Blanching

This involves freezing your basil leaves until they are needed for use.

Unlike many people think, freezing the leaves preserves them from spoilage and reduces any bitter taste in the basil, making it easier to consume.

2. Mix the bitter basil with spinach, parsley, or less bitter basil

If you want to eat your basil leaves and discover that they are pretty bitter, you can mix them with other greens like spinach parsley, even less bitter basil leaves.

This action will help reduce the bitterness you feel while consuming the basil.

3. Adding sugar

If you are planning to consume your basil leaves in tea form and taste bitter, a non-hectic and straightforward solution you can pick is to add sugar to the cup of tea for a little more sweetening.

Also, if you want to use the basil leaves to make a tomato sauce, adding a little sugar won’t hurt. Although it is preferable, you use it for sour tomatoes.

4. Change the proportion of the non-basil ingredients in your meal

If your basil leaves taste bitter, and you want to use them for cooking, you might add a few other spices and seasonings that match the meal’s requirements.

For example, when using bitter basil for cooking spicy rice, you may want to add spices like sesame and curry with extra seasonings to reduce the bitterness felt from the basil during consumption.

How Do You Fix Bitter Basil?

If you are lucky enough to discover that your basil leaves taste bitter while still on the farm, then there are a few things to avoid the bitterness from affecting the whole basil shrub or garden.

These include:

1. Pruning

Many kinds of basil plants are annual plants. This means they begin to produce flowers that bear seeds for the next planting season towards the end of the year.

During this period, the basil plant will use the only energy left to develop flowers and seeds. Fewer resources will be delivered to every other part of the plant, including the leaves.

Here, leaf production ends, and any already grown leaf will undergo a drop in the natural oil content, thereby causing the basil leaves to be bitter.

However, there is a secret to stopping this process from affecting the taste of the basil, even though it is a natural phenomenon.

This secret is pruning. If you have any potted basil, remove the flowers immediately, they are coming up or appearing.

This occurrence will stop the basil from producing seeds and flowers and decrease the chances of the basil leaves having a bitter taste.

2. Proper care

Always ensure you take appropriate care of your basil garden to avoid bitterness and other conditions that may damage your basil leaf quality. You can take off the basil garden by:

Allowing the plants to get full sun.

Water the basil garden more often but not too much, preferably twice daily.

Don’t forget to feed the basil plants regularly by adding organic manure to the basil garden.

3. Plant Variety

When considering basil bitterness, the type of basil in your plant plays a significant role.

If you plant basil leaves naturally bitter by species, then your whole basil garden will likely be bitter.

Always ensure you make proper findings of the basil seeds you purchase for planting.

Common Varieties Of Naturally Bitter Tasting Basil Plants

As earlier stated, your basil garden may produce bitter basil leaves because of the plant variety you planted.

Yes! Some basil plants have a bitter, bitter t naturally, and more often than not, there is nothing you can do to stop the bitter taste from generating, seeing that it has been designed by nature.

The two most common varieties of bitter basil plants are:

  • Genovese.
  • Purple basil.

If you plant the seedlings of any of this variety of basil plants, then expect a slight bitterness in your basil leaves during consumption.


1. Overcooking can make even sweet basil leaves taste bitter. So try to use the best recipes when using basil leaves for cooking.

2. Improper storage can also make a good-tasting basil leaf go bitter. They are very delicate plants that you should handle with care for the best results.

3. Harsh sun can also contribute to your basil plant tasting bitter because the excess heat will dry up the natural oils in the plant.

4. If you use freezing as the method for the preservation of basil leaves, then you must know that it shouldn’t last more than two weeks. If it does, it might turn the basil leaves sour.

5. Attempt to prune your basil garden more frequently. Advisably you can prune every 2 to 3 months.

6. Once basil leaves turn bitter from the farm, you cannot reverse the process.

7. Bitter basil leaves are not bad basil leaves!


Bitter basil leaves are just as ok as every other regular basil. Their seeds, however, may likely not produce bitter basil plants.

So if you have any bitter-tasting basil you want to throw out, don’t do that just yet.

Instead, try one of the above measures to reduce the bitter taste and make your delicious basil recipes.

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