How to grow basil

How to Grow Basil Easily: Pro Tips To Do It Right

Have you tried to grow basil and failed each time? You aren’t alone! Basil is a popular herb for medicinal and culinary purposes, yet it can be tricky to grow. Learning how to grow basil the right way makes a huge difference in your harvest.

Basil happens to be one of my favorite herbs; I cook with it often. I always dreamed of growing a huge patch, but I failed every year until I learned some helpful tips. Let’s take a look at what you need to know!

Having a lifetime supply of fresh basil is as easy as knowing how to grow it the right way.

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What You’ll Need

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    Basil Seeds.
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    Seed Starting Mix - Needed if you want to use basil seeds.
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    Seed Starting Tray - Needed for starting seeds.
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    Started Basil Seedlings.
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    Compost - You can either purchase premade compost or make your compost at home.
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    Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizer - You can purchase fertilizer at the store or use nitrogen rich fertilizers at home.
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    Soil pH meter.
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    Gardening Gloves - For planting the basil in the ground.
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    Container or Pot with Draining Hole
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    Potting Soil Mix.
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    Pruning Shears - For simple harvesting and pruning.
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    Fine Colander - Used when collecting basil seeds.

How To Grow Basil

Are you ready to learn about how to grow basil easily? Here are all the important considerations you need to know to be successful!

Seeds, Cuttings or Transplants

Do you want to use seeds, cuttings or transplants? Learning how to grow basil from seed is trickier; many people think it is too hard. I find growing basil from seed easy. Here are some tips.

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    Start your seeds about a month before your final frost date, or sow in your garden after frost passes.
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    Add organic matter to your soil before planting.
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    Cover the seeds with only ¼ inch soil!
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    Make sure to water well as you wait for germination.
How to Grow Basil - Basil seedlings in seeding pot


Another choice is to learn how to grow basil from cuttings. You need a 4-inch cutting, right below the node. Take the leaves off the bottom half. Put the cutting into a glass of water where it can receive sunlight. When you see root growth in a few weeks, put it into a pot indoors. Ask your friends if they have any cuttings available for a free plant.

You can get a basil plant from any nursery or supermarket. Learning how to keep supermarket basil alive is the same as with other plants! However, make sure you move it to a larger pot to give the roots plenty of space to grow.

Growing Basil Outside

Most gardeners plant their basil outside. It is an annual plant, which means it won’t come back year after year. Basil plants prefer warmer weather, so be sure to wait to plant until the final frost date has passed.

PRO TIP

Basil prefers when your temperatures are at least 70° F during the day and no cooler than 50° F at night.

All basil prefers to have soil that drains well, so make sure you select an area that won’t have standing water. Add compost or other organic matter to the soil before planting; basil is a heavy feeder.

Before planting, you will also want to check the acidity level of your soil. Using a pH reader is easy! Basil prefers levels between 5.5 and 6.5, but it can survive up to 8.5. Check the amount of sunlight that the location receives. Basil needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day, so pick the location wisely!

PRO TIP

Try planting basil near tomatoes and peppers. Many say that basil stimulates the growth of these plants and wards off pests.

How to Grow Basil - Basil plant blossom outdoors

Once you’ve picked the best area, place your basil 12 to 24 inches apart. While the seed packets say 6 to 12 inches, the plants can reach 24 inches wide easily.

If you are wondering how often to water basil, the answer is typically every other day. Basil plants prefer moist soil, but they can tolerate dry. It is best if you check your soil every other day. If it is dry, then water deeply. However, if you are experiencing drought-like conditions or scorching weather, watering daily might be wiser. 

Growing Basil Indoors

How to Grow Basil - Small Basil Plant in a Pot indoors during the day

Basil plant care indoors is a bit different because you do have to make sure your plant receives all the adequate amounts of light, water, and nutrients. Many people like growing basil in pots for access to basil year-round! However, learning how to keep basil alive indoors is a bit different and requires extra consideration.

The first thing you should do is select a high-quality potting soil. You also want to make sure the pot you selected drains well to avoid standing water. A coarser-textured growing soil stops the water from draining out faster.

PRO TIP

Don’t put gravel at the bottom of your pot. It slows plant growth rather than encouraging it!

Just like basil plant care outdoor, you need to add compost or fertilizer to your basil pots. Compost is ideal because it allows the nutrients to be released over a longer period. If you want to use fertilizer, make sure to dilute the solution. Apply every three to four weeks.

Basil still needs a decent amount of sunlight, 6 to eight hours.  Try placing your pots near a southern facing window for best results. Basil plants love water. When you notice your soil is dry, water to 1 ½ inches deep. Check with your finger!

PRO TIP

If you notice that your basil plant is wilting, make sure to check all of the important requirements. The lack of proper sunlight, space for air circulation, and badly-draining soil can lead to wilt.

Pruning Basil

How to Grow Basil - Basil being pruned by a hand during daylight

Source: ​WayWardSpark​​​

You don’t need to prune basil until it is taller than six inches. It is important to know when to prune basil for the first time. Pruning basil to make it bushy will increase your harvest! Every time you prune the plant, you will notice it becomes bushier and leafier, meaning you get more for your recipes!

Basil continues to grow after each pruning, so you don’t have to wait long. Harvesting can begin as soon as your plant is taller than six inches. Make sure that you harvest properly because knowing how to pinch basil is important.

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    Pinch all the way down the stem to where the next leaf set begins. If you fail to do so, new leaves won’t be able to form. You should cut back about ¼ inch above the basil node.
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    Make sure you only remove as much as you need or harvest full stems for drying. Make sure that you do prune every two to three weeks to continue healthy growth.
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    If you notice your basil plant flowering, remove the flowers immediately. Forgetting to do so can cause the plant to have a bitter taste and lead to the plant going to seed sooner. Flowers suck energy from the plant that is used to grow the foliage.


Collecting Seeds

Saving basil seeds is practical. The seeds are on the flower head. The seeds are small and black, so it is best to collect them in a fine colander or mesh. Harvesting basil seeds is easy! Just take off the spent flower heads and allow them to dry. Then, crush the heads over the colander and remove all of the pieces of the petal. You can also try crushing them in a bowl if you don’t have a colander.

How to Grow Basil - Seeds being shown in a basil plant ready to be collected

Source: ​EudloSeedSavers​​​

Once you’ve collected the basil seeds, you have to store them correctly for the upcoming year. At first, you want to store the seeds somewhere dark but with ventilation, for at least a week. You can try a manila envelope!

The goal is to dry out the seeds. Afterwards, you can store the basil seeds in an airtight container. Many gardeners purchase seed envelopes for each type. Then, they store those envelopes in sealed containers. Mason jars tend to be the most popular choice. However, any sealed and airtight container works, such as a tool box or lunchbox. Now, you have basil seeds for next year! 

Conclusion

Everyone loves basil! The amount of basil uses available seems endless. With all of these tips and knowledge, you will be able to grow your own infinite supply. Buying basil in the stores is a thing of the past. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and tips. Make sure you let us know what you think in the comments and share the article if it was helpful for you. If you have any awesome basil growing tips, let us know in the comments.

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