Tips for Successfully Growing and Caring for Basil Plants


Basil is a popular herb that is relatively easy to grow and can be used for a variety of purposes. It thrives in sunlight and should be planted in well-drained soils. Basil seeds can be germinated indoors or outdoors, depending on the climate and time of year. If germinating indoors, cover the seeds with a thin layer of vermiculite and keep them watered regularly. Once the seedlings have developed their second set of true leaves, they can be transplanted outdoors.

When choosing a variety of basil to grow, there are many options available. Some popular varieties include Genovese, Thai, and Purple Ruffles. Each variety has its own unique flavor and characteristics. Basil can be grown from seed or purchased as young plants from a garden center. If growing from seed, sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep in containers or directly in the garden soil.

Basil plants should be spaced about 8-12 inches apart to allow for proper air circulation and growth. They should be watered frequently, but be careful not to overwater as this can lead to diseases such as damping off. Basil plants prefer temperatures between 70-80°F (21-27°C) during the day and around 60°F (15°C) at night.

As the basil plants grow, they will develop multiple stems. To encourage bushier growth, pinch off the top of the plant’s main stem. This will direct the plant’s energy to the side shoots, resulting in a fuller plant. Basil plants can be harvested once they have reached a height of 6-8 inches. To harvest, simply cut the stems above a set of leaves. Basil can be used fresh, dried, or frozen for later use.

For storing basil, it is best to keep it in a cool, dark place. One option is to place the stems in a glass of water and cover the leaves with a plastic bag. Another option is to harvest the basil and dry it by hanging it upside down in a well-ventilated area. The dry basil can then be stored in an airtight container for later use.

Basil is not only a delicious herb to have in your garden, but it can also be used as an ornamental plant. Its fragrant leaves and small white or purple flowers make it a beautiful addition to any garden. Whether you are using basil for culinary purposes or as a decorative plant, following these guidelines will help ensure a successful and thriving basil plant.

For more information on how to grow basil, check out the video tutorial below:

Video: How to Grow Basil – Thompson & Morgan

Basil – Key Growing Information

When it comes to growing basil, there are a few key steps you need to follow to ensure success. Basil, scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum, is a popular herb that offers a variety of culinary and medicinal uses. It is quick to germinate and easy to grow, making it a great choice for both new and experienced gardeners.

Basil prefers well-drained soils and plenty of sunlight. Make sure to choose a site for planting that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. The soil should be rich in organic matter and have good drainage to prevent waterlogging and root rot. If you have heavy clay soils, add compost or well-rotted manure to improve the soil’s structure.

There are several ways to start growing basil. You can sow the seeds directly into the garden or start them indoors in trays or pots. If you choose to start them indoors, sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep in seed trays or individual pots filled with a well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and place the trays or pots in a warm location with plenty of light.

Basil seeds typically germinate within 5-10 days. Once they have germinated and have a few true leaves, you can thin the seedlings to the desired spacing. Space the seedlings about 6-12 inches apart to allow proper air circulation and promote healthy growth. This also helps to prevent fungal diseases.

While basil plants prefer warm temperatures, they can be sensitive to frosts. If temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it is important to protect your basil plants. Consider using row covers, straw, or grass clippings as mulch to help insulate the plants and retain heat.

Basil plants should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Be sure to water at the base of the plant rather than overhead to prevent fungal diseases. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal infections, so make sure to water consistently and avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely.

When it comes time to harvest your basil, you can start harvesting the leaves when the plant reaches about 6 inches in height. Harvesting from the top encourages branching and provides a continuous supply of fresh leaves. Simply pinch off the leaves or use sharp scissors to cut them. Harvesting regularly will help to prolong the plant’s life and promote new growth.

Fertilizing your basil plants is also important to promote healthy growth and flavor. Use an all-purpose fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nutrients, or a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to encourage leafy growth. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for application rates and frequency. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive leaf growth and a diluted flavor.

With the right growing conditions and care, your basil plants will flourish and provide you with a bountiful harvest of fresh and flavorful leaves. Whether you use basil for cooking, making pesto, or as a fragrant addition to potpourri, the effort and time spent growing basil will be well worth it.

How to grow basil

Growing basil is a popular choice for many gardeners. Basil is an easy-to-grow herb that adds fresh flavors to a variety of dishes. Whether you choose to grow it indoors or outdoors, in the ground or in containers, basil is a versatile plant that will thrive with proper care.

1. Planning and preparation:

  • Choose a sunny location in your garden or a spot that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Basil prefers warm temperatures, so make sure to plant it after the last frost date in your area.
  • Prepare the soil by removing any weeds and loosening it with a garden fork. Basil grows best in well-drained soil, so if your soil is heavy clay or prone to waterlogging, amend it with organic matter to improve drainage.
  • Start basil seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date or directly sow them in the garden after the soil has warmed up.

2. Planting basil:

  • Sow the basil seeds 1/4 inch deep in small pots or trays filled with a well-draining seed starting mix.
  • Water the soil lightly and keep it evenly moist until the seeds sprout.
  • When the seedlings have developed two sets of true leaves, transplant them into separate pots or space them 12-18 inches apart in the garden.
  • Water the transplants thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around their roots.

3. Care and maintenance:

  • Water basil plants regularly, providing about 1 inch of water per week. Basil prefers slightly moist soil, but be careful not to overwater as it can cause root rot.
  • Fertilize basil plants every 2-3 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer or use a slow-release granular fertilizer according to the package instructions.
  • Pinch off any flowers that appear to encourage bushier growth and better leaf production.
  • Keep the area around the basil plants weed-free to prevent competition for nutrients and moisture. Mulching with organic matter can help suppress weeds.
  • Monitor the basil plants for any signs of disease or pest infestation. Common issues include fungal diseases, aphids, and slugs. Apply appropriate organic or chemical controls if necessary.

4. Harvesting and storage:

  • Harvest basil leaves when they are large enough to use, usually after the plant has reached about 6-8 inches in height.
  • To harvest, cut the stems just above a leaf node to encourage branching and continued growth.
  • If you have more basil than you can use fresh, consider drying or freezing the leaves for later use. To dry, hang the stems upside down in a cool, airy place until the leaves are crisp. To freeze, pack the basil leaves in freezer bags or containers and store them in the freezer.

By following these guidelines, you’ll enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh basil throughout the growing season. Basil is a versatile herb that enhances the flavors of many dishes, so make sure to plant a few varieties to enjoy different tastes and aromas.

How to choose the best variety of basil

When it comes to growing basil, choosing the right variety can make a big difference. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, there are a few key factors to consider when selecting the best basil for your garden.

First off, it’s important to choose a variety that will thrive in your specific climate. Basil is a warm-weather herb, so it’s crucial to pick a variety that can tolerate the temperature and sunlight conditions in your area. Some popular all-purpose basil varieties, including Genoa and Sweet Basil, can handle full sun and are less likely to suffer from heat stress.

In addition to considering your climate, you should also think about the amount of space you have available. Some basil varieties, like Thai Basil or Lemon Basil, can grow quite large and may need more room to spread out. If you have limited space, you might want to consider compact basil varieties such as Spicy Globe or Mini Purple.

Another factor to consider is the flavor profile you desire. Different basil varieties have distinct tastes and aromas, ranging from traditional sweet basil to more exotic flavors like cinnamon or licorice. Consider how you plan to use your basil and choose a variety that suits your culinary preferences.

The soil conditions in your garden are also important to consider. Basil prefers well-drained soil, so if your garden has heavy clay or tends to retain excess moisture, you may need to amend the soil or choose a basil variety that is more resistant to root rot. Additionally, if you are gardening in a raised bed or containers, make sure to choose a basil variety that is well-suited for these growing conditions.

Lastly, think about the length of your growing season. Some basil varieties, like Cinnamon Basil or Sacred Basil, take longer to mature and produce leaves. If you live in a region with shorter growing seasons, be mindful of this and choose a basil variety that has a shorter time to maturity, such as Genovese or Sweet Basil.

Overall, when choosing the best variety of basil for your garden, it’s important to consider factors such as climate, space availability, flavor profile, soil conditions, and length of growing season. By keeping these considerations in mind, you’ll be sure to find the perfect basil variety that will thrive in your garden and provide you with a bountiful harvest of fragrant and flavorful leaves.

✿ Read More About Herbs.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.