Tips for Successfully Growing Basil in the United Kingdom

Tips for Successfully Growing Basil in the United Kingdom

Basil is a popular herb that is commonly used in cooking, especially in Italian dishes. It is known for its strong aroma and distinct taste, which adds flavor to a wide variety of dishes. If you’re looking to grow your own basil in the UK, there are a few things you need to know:

Firstly, basil is a warm-weather plant that thrives in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, basil may show symptoms of damage, such as leaf discoloration and wilting. To prevent this, you can move your basil plants indoors or cover them with a protective layer.

There are many varieties of basil to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and growth habits. Some popular varieties include sweet basil, Thai basil, and lemon basil. Basil can be grown from seeds or cuttings, and germination usually takes around three to five days. Once the seedlings are established, you can transplant them into larger pots or directly into the garden.

Basil requires well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight to grow properly. It is important to water your basil plants regularly and ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other health issues. Additionally, basil benefits from regular pruning to encourage bushier growth and prevent the plants from becoming leggy.

In the UK, it is best to start growing basil indoors or in a greenhouse around April, when temperatures are still relatively low and frost is still a possibility. Once the danger of frost has passed, you can move your basil plants outside. Basil grows best in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and warmer temperatures will result in quicker growth.

It is also important to note that basil is not a frost-tolerant plant, so if temperatures drop below freezing, your basil plants may suffer damage, and in some cases, they may die. If frost is forecasted, it is best to take action to protect your plants, such as covering them with a frost cloth or moving them indoors temporarily.

In conclusion, growing basil in the UK is possible, but it requires careful consideration of temperature, sunlight, and other factors. By following the tips and guidelines in this guide, you will be able to successfully grow your own basil and enjoy its fresh flavor throughout the summer season.

Here’s what you need to know to grow fresh basil – indoors or out

Growing fresh basil can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, whether you choose to grow it indoors or outdoors. This versatile herb is not only delicious but also packed with health benefits.

If you decide to grow basil in a container, you have the flexibility of moving it around to find the perfect spot. Basil thrives in full sun, so choose a location that gets at least five to six hours of direct sunlight each day. If you’re growing basil outdoors, make sure to plant it after the last frost date, which is usually in late spring.

When planting basil in a container, ensure it has proper drainage to prevent overwatering. Also, be mindful of the temperature, as basil doesn’t do well in cold weather. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly to prevent the leaves from wilting or turning yellow.

If you’re growing basil indoors, you can start seeds early in the year and transfer them outside once the risk of frost is over. Basil seeds typically germinate within five to ten days, but this can vary depending on the temperature. Keeping a calendar or using a guide can help you determine the ideal time to plant.

To ensure your basil plants receive enough sunlight, place them near a south-facing window for maximum light exposure. If your home doesn’t receive much natural light, consider using grow lights to supplement their needs.

When it comes to temperature, basil prefers warmer conditions but can tolerate cooler temperatures as well. If the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C), the plant may suffer from damage. Wrapping a protective covering around the plants can help prevent frost damage.

Regardless of where you decide to grow basil, it’s important to prune regularly to encourage bushier growth. By pinching off the top leaves, you’re allowing the plant to divert its energy to lower leaves, resulting in a fuller plant.

Most importantly, remember to harvest your basil with care. Pick leaves from the top down, but make sure not to remove more than one-third of the plant at a time. This will ensure your basil keeps growing for longer.

With these tips and tricks, you can successfully grow fresh basil in the UK throughout the year, whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out.


If you are wondering where to grow basil in the UK, you will be glad to know that this herb can be grown almost anywhere in the country. There are several varieties of basil available, each with its own unique flavors and aromas. Even if you have limited space, you can grow basil in pots or containers.

Basil plants prefer temperatures over 50 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth. You can start the seeds indoors under grow lights, wrapping them in a damp paper towel to aid germination. After the seeds have sprouted, you can move them outdoors once the correct temperatures are reached.

When moving the seedlings outdoors, be sure to choose a sunny spot. Basil grows best with at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you do not have access to sufficient sunlight, you can also grow basil indoors near a sunny window.

To promote proper growth, thin out the seedlings to give each plant enough space to flourish. Regular watering is essential for basil plants, but be careful not to overwater as it can damage the roots. It’s important to provide good drainage to prevent waterlogging.

In terms of fertilization, basil plants do not need heavy feeding. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer can provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. However, be cautious not to use too much fertilizer as it can cause damage to the plant.

Basil has good tolerance to heat and humidity, making it a popular herb to grow in the UK during the summer months. It can be harvested once the plant reaches around 6 inches in height. When harvesting, cut the leaves from the outside of the plant and always leave some leaves behind to ensure continuous growth.

If you’re wondering what to do with all the harvest, basil can be used fresh in salads, sauces, and many other recipes. It can also be dried or frozen for later use. If you have more basil than you can use, you can share it with friends and family or even participate in local herb events.

In summary, growing basil in the UK is relatively easy if you provide the correct conditions of sunlight, water, and fertilization. Whether you decide to start from seeds or use cuttings from an existing plant, basil will reward you with its aromatic and flavorful leaves for years to come. So why not give it a try and enjoy your own homegrown basil!


If you want to grow basil in the UK, you have two options: starting from seeds or using cuttings. Both methods have their advantages and can lead to successful basil plants.

When planting basil seeds, it’s important to follow a guide that outlines the proper steps to ensure successful germination. Basil seeds can be sown indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather and the time of year. If you choose to start the seeds indoors, you can begin planting as early as a few weeks before the last frost date.

Starting basil from seeds indoors allows you to have more control over the growing conditions and gives the plants a head start before transplanting them outside. Many people also find it easier to monitor and care for the seedlings when they are indoors, where they can benefit from grow lights and artificial heat if needed.

If you decide to sow the seeds directly outdoors, you should wait until the weather has warmed up and the risk of frost has passed. Basil is a warm-weather herb and requires temperatures above 50°F (10°C) to thrive. It is also sensitive to cold temperatures and may wilt or suffer damage if exposed to chilly nights.

When planting basil seeds outdoors, make sure to space them adequately and plant them in well-draining soil. Basil seeds should be covered lightly with soil and kept moist until they germinate. Watering regularly and providing adequate moisture throughout the growing cycle is crucial for successful basil growth.

Another option for growing basil is using cuttings. Taking cuttings from an existing basil plant allows you to clone the plant and create new basil plants. To take a cutting, simply cut a stem at a 45-degree angle just above a node, remove all the lower leaves, and place the cutting in a glass of water.

Keep the cutting in a warm and slightly humid environment, and within a couple of weeks, it should start showing new roots. Once the roots are around an inch long, the cutting can be moved to a pot with potting soil. It’s important to provide the newly rooted cutting with plenty of sunlight, but be cautious of excessive heat or intense sunlight, as it can damage the young plant.

Both growing basil from seeds or cuttings can be a rewarding experience. The process may take some time and patience, but eventually, you will be able to enjoy fresh and delicious basil in your dishes.

✿ Read More About Herbs.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.