How to Grow and Care for Basil

Basil is a popular herb that can be used in many different dishes. It has a strong flavor and can be used fresh or dried. Basil is easy to grow and can be started from seed, transplants, or cuttings. With a little care, you can have a bountiful harvest of this flavorful herb.

Botanical Name:Ocimum basilicum
Other Names:Common Basil, Sweet Basil
Type of Plant:Herb
Size and Appearance:Grows to a height of 2-3 feet. Has green leaves that are 3-4 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. The leaves have a strong, sweet smell.

Planting Time:

Spring or summer.

Blossoming Time:

Late summer.

Propagation:

From seed.

Sun:

Full sun.

Temperature:

Between 80 to 90 degrees F (27 to 32 degrees C)

Soil:

Rich, well-drained soil.

Watering:

Water regularly, especially during dry periods.

Fertilize:

Every 2-3 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer for herbs.

Uses:

The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.

In this article, you will learn how to grow Basil in your garden or in a plant pot.

How to Grow Basil in the Garden

  1. Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-drained soil. 
  2. Prepare the soil by tilling or digging it to loosen it up.
  3. Sow the basil seeds about ¼ inch deep and 18 inches apart.
  4. Water the seeds gently after planting them.
  5. Keep the soil moist but not soggy until the seeds germinate.
  6. Once the seedlings emerge, thin them out.
  7. Continue to water regularly, making sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely.
  8. When the plants are about 6 inches tall, you can begin to harvest them.
  9. To encourage bushier growth, pinch off the tips of the main stems once the plants are about 8 inches tall.
  10. Harvest basil regularly throughout the growing season to keep the plants from going to seed (bolting).
  11. If you want to save some basil for winter use, you can try drying or freezing

1. Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-drained soil.

The best spot in the garden to grow basil plants is in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Basil prefers warm weather and does not tolerate frost, so it is best to plant it after the last frost date in your area.

Basil plants need well-drained, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

The soil should be amended with organic matter before planting. Basil is a heavy feeder and benefits from regular applications of compost or manure.

2. Prepare the soil by tilling or digging it to loosen it up.

To prepare the soil for Basil plants in the garden, first, remove any weeds and loosen the top layer of soil with a rake.

Then, mix in some compost or organic matter to help the Basil plants grow. Finally, water the area well and allow it to drain before planting the Basil plants.

3. Sow the basil seeds about ¼ inch deep and 18 inches apart.

Create furrows in the soil that are about ¼ inch deep. Once the furrows have been created, you will need to sprinkle the basil seeds evenly over them.

After the seeds have been scattered, you will need to lightly rake them into the soil so that they are covered.  

4. Water the seeds gently after planting them.

Basil seeds need very little water after sowing them. They should be kept moist, but not wet, and should be allowed to dry out between watering.

5. Keep the soil moist but not soggy until the seeds germinate, which should happen within 10 days or so.

Basil seeds need moist conditions to germinate. 

The ideal temperature for germination is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Basil seeds will germinate in 7-14 days under these conditions.

6. Once the seedlings emerge, thin them out so that they are about 8 inches apart.

To thin basil seedlings out, you should snip off the weaker seedlings at the soil line so that the stronger seedlings have more room to grow.

The perfect distance between basil seedlings is about 6-8 inches. This allows the plants to have enough space to grow without crowding each other.

7. Continue to water regularly, making sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely.

Basil plants like to be kept moist, but not wet. Water them when the soil feels dry to the touch.

8. When the plants are about 6 inches tall, you can begin to harvest the leaves for use in cooking.

The best time to harvest basil leaves is in the morning after the dew has evaporated. To harvest, cut the stem just above a leaf node (where the leaves branch off).

9. To encourage bushier growth, pinch off the tips of the main stems once the plants are about 8 inches tall.

Pinching off the tips of basil plants encourages bushier growth because it forces the plant to produce more lateral (side) shoots.

10. Harvest basil regularly throughout the growing season to keep the plants from going to seed (bolting).

Basil plants go to seed when they are left to flower and mature. Once they go to seed, they will produce less leaves for you to consume.

11. If you want to save some basil for winter use, you can try drying or freezing it.

Dried basil leaves will last for about 6 months if stored in a cool, dark place. Frozen basil leaves will last for about 1 year.

To dry basil, tie a bunch of stems together and hang it upside down in a dark, dry place for a few weeks until the leaves are crisp and crumbly when crushed between your fingers. 

To freeze basil, wash and dry the leaves then remove them from the stems (discard stems). Place leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer for an hour or two until they’re frozen solid then transfer them to a freezer bag or container for storage

How to grow Basil in a planting pot

  1. Choose a pot that is at least 6 inches wide and has drainage holes in the bottom.
  2. Fill the pot with a high-quality potting mix, such as one made for herbs.
  3. Water the potting mix thoroughly before planting.
  4. Sow basil seeds directly in the pot, or start with young plants.
  5. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and provide good air circulation.
  6. When seedlings emerge, thin them so that only the strongest plants remain.
  7. Basil plants need full sun to partial shade to thrive.
  8. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer designed for herbs.
  9. Pinch back basil plants regularly to encourage bushier growth.
  10. Harvest leaves as needed, starting when plants are about 6 inches tall.
  11. Cut stems back by about one-third after each harvest.
  12. Bring potted basil indoors before frost hits in fall, and place in a sunny spot near a window.
  13. Water as needed to keep the soil moist but not wet, and fertilize monthly during winter months.

In the following, I will cover each step in a little more detail.

1. Choose a pot that is at least 6 inches wide and has drainage holes in the bottom.

The perfect pot size for basil plants is 6 inches. This size allows the plant to have enough room to grow, but it is not too large that the plant becomes unmanageable.

Basil likes to grow in well-drained soil, so the pot should have good drainage.

2. Fill the pot with a high-quality potting mix, such as one made for herbs.

The perfect potting mix for basil plants is a mixture of one part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part vermiculite. Regular potting mix for herbs is also a great option.

3. Water the potting mix thoroughly before planting.

To prepare the potting mix for basil plants, add water to the mix and stir until it is evenly moistened.

4. Sow basil seeds directly in the pot, or start with young plants.

Gently press the seeds into the mix and cover with a thin layer of mix. Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot and keep the mix moist. 

6. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and provide good air circulation around the plants.

The perfect conditions for basil plants to emerge in a pot are warm temperatures, moist soil, and plenty of sunlight.

7. When seedlings emerge, thin them so that only the strongest plants remain.

To thin out basil seedlings, you should snip off the weaker seedlings at the soil line so that the stronger seedlings have more room to grow.

8. Basil plants need full sun to partial shade to thrive.

Basil plants need at least six hours of sun per day.

Basil plants like to be in full sunlight.

9. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer designed for herbs.

Basil plants in pots need about 1/4 cup of fertilizer per month.

A good fertilizer for basil is a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer.

10. Pinch back basil plants regularly to encourage bushier growth.

Pinching off the tips of basil plants encourages bushier growth because it forces the plant to produce more lateral (side) shoots.

11. Harvest leaves as needed, starting when plants are about 6 inches tall.

Basil plants go to seed when they are left to flower and mature. Once they go to seed, they will produce less leaves for you to consume.

12. Cut stems back by about one-third after each harvest to keep plants from getting leggy.

Basil plants can get leggy because they are not receiving enough light.

13. Bring potted basil indoors before frost hits in fall, and place in a sunny spot near a window.

The perfect spot for basil plants indoors is in a bright, sunny location.

14. Water as needed to keep the soil moist but not wet, and fertilize monthly during winter months.

Basil plants need a lot of light, so a sunny windowsill is ideal. They should be watered when the soil is dry to the touch, and fertilized every two to four weeks.

How to use Basil

Woman hands making italian pesto in bowl. Ingredients – basil, lemon, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and salt on rustic wooden background. Top view, flat lay, copyspace

Basil is a common ingredient in many cuisines all over the world. It is often used to add flavor to soups, stews, sauces, and other dishes. 

Basil is also a popular herbal tea ingredient, and it is sometimes used in traditional medicine. 

In some cultures, basil is also believed to have esoteric or spiritual significance.

Basil is a plant that is known for its healing properties. It is often used in folk medicine and has a long history of use in various cultures.

Basil is thought to be effective in treating a wide range of ailments, including colds, flu, stomach problems, and headaches.

Some people also believe that basil can help to improve mental clarity and concentration.

Facts about Basil

Bunch fresh basil on a wooden background. Aromatic spice.
  • Basil is a member of the mint family.
  • It is native to India, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
  • Basil has a strong, pungent flavor that is used in many cuisines around the world.
  • The leaves of the basil plant are used to make pesto sauce.
  • Basil is a popular ingredient in Thai cuisine.

Photo of author
Written By Vincent

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