How to Harvest Basil Seeds from Basil Seed Pods

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Growing your own basil seems to be a rite of passage for gardeners of all experience levels. If, like me, you’ve also fallen in love with basil, you simply must discover how to harvest basil seeds for next season.

Harvesting basil seeds isn’t my favorite part of growing basil, but it’s necessary and worthwhile. Sometimes I actually save the individual seeds while other times I simply pop the ripe seed pods into a paper bag until next time.

Hand holding lots of dried basil seed pods
Harvesting lots of dried basil seed pods from our garden

It’s actually not difficult to learn how to save seeds from basil at all. The process can just be a bit time-consuming in my humble opinion.

Here are my favorite tips on saving basil seeds. Hopefully it helps you to have a more bountiful garden year after year!

How to Harvest Basil Seeds from Plants

It’s easy to get the hang of how to harvest basil seeds. Now all you have to do is make some time to give it a whirl!

These are the steps I use when collecting basil seeds:

  1. Wait for a dry and sunny day to harvest seeds from your garden.
  2. Label a paper lunch bag with the type of basil and the year you’re collecting basil seeds.
  3. Open the bag and take it with you to your basil plants.
  4. Look for basil seed pods on stems that are entirely brown. If some are still green, the seeds may not be mature and viable for planting.
  5. Cut mature basil seed stems below the last sets of brown seed pods.
  6. Place the pods in the brown lunch bag.
  7. Continue harvesting until you’ve collected all the basil seeds you want to save.
  8. Repeat the process for any other varieties of basil that you’re growing. Bear in mind that some cross-pollination may occur between varieties. Time will tell!
Tiny purple basil seedlings next to plant marker in the garden
Tiny purple basil plants we grew from seeds we saved!

How to Harvest Basil Seeds from Dried Seed Pods

To actually harvest basil seeds from the seed pods, follow these steps:

  1. Over a paper plate, break open each tiny seed pod to release the basil seeds.
  2. Tiny black seeds should spill out onto the plate. Brush them aside for storage.
  3. Continue breaking open basil seed pods until you have enough seeds set aside for saving.
  4. Choose an envelope, container, or bag to store basil seeds until you need them. Since basil seeds are so tiny, I generally keep them in a tiny zip-top plastic bag. Be sure they are fully dry first!
  5. Place the basil seeds in the bag, envelope, or container and label it with the type and date.

Sometimes saving the entire seed pod is much easier than setting the seeds free ahead of time. You can easily crack open the seed pods when you are ready to plant them.

Removing basil seeds from the dried seed pods
Removing basil seeds from the dried seed pods

Benefits of Harvesting Basil Seeds

Harvesting basil seeds brings quite a few benefits besides those you might expect.

  • Free Seeds – Grow basil again next year.
  • Selective Breeding – Save favorite varieties for future plantings.
  • Sharing – Prolific seed harvests work well for seed swaps over the winter.
  • Health Benefits Also known as sabja seeds or tukmaria seeds, sweet basil seeds offer a range of potential health benefits. They are edible and may help with lowering cholesterol, increasing mineral intake, and adding fiber to your diet, among other basil seed benefits.

Please note – I find it quite tedious to harvest basil seeds from seed pods, so I usually save the strips of seed pods wholly intact. When I need to separate them for seed swaps or planting, I remove the seeds on an as-needed basis.


You can get basil seeds from your garden when you wait for your basil plants to go to seed. Allow the plants to grow without pruning them for a couple of weeks and you should soon see flowers forming on the basil. Allow the flowers to bloom – the bees love them! A few weeks later, the flowers should die back and seed pods take their place. You can soon harvest basil seeds from these seed pods after they fully mature.

In addition to growing your own basil, you can get basil seeds from your favorite garden center, nursery, or online seed shop as well.

After the basil goes to flower, the seeds form inside the little seed pods. When the basil seed pods turn brown in the stems, your basil seeds are ready to harvest.

When basil goes to seed, you can let the process take its course so you can save basil seeds for next year. Allow the bees to do their thing when flowers appear and wait until the flowers become dried, brown seed pods instead. You may also still eat basil after it flowers, if you prefer.

To continue enjoying basil, you may wish to remove the flowers and harvest fresh basil on demand. The taste may become a bit more bitter, but even the flowers of basil are edible so you can certainly still eat the leaves after basil flowers.

Just remember to let some flowers go to seed if your hopes are set on saving basil seeds for next year!

Plan to harvest basil seeds on a dry, sunny day. Harvesting basil seeds is most successful when all the seed pods on a basil plant are brown and dry. Wait until everything turns brown before harvesting, if possible.

Saving basil seeds for next season
Saving basil seeds for next season can be as easy as placing the seed pods in a paper bag!

Harvesting Basil Seeds For The Win!

With so many great benefits, harvesting basil seeds is definitely worth your time. Even if you just save the seed pods like I do, you’ll love your fresh crop of basil in next year’s garden.

Now that you know how to collect basil seeds, you have no excuse about growing a bountiful herb garden! You can even grow basil indoors for your culinary use over the winter.

Do you have any tips or questions about how to harvest basil seeds? Share your stories, questions, or advice in our comments – we love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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