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How To Grow Basil

Growing basil is super easy and very satisfying! In this article, you’ll find all the tips you need to take care of basil. 

This includes detailed steps on how to plant it, the amount of sunlight it needs, how much to water it, what kind of fertilizer to use, the right kind of soil, when and how to harvest, and much more!

Basil is a popular herb used in many recipes and is often found in our kitchen spice collections. But is it okay to grow it ourselves rather than buy it from a store?

There’s nothing better than using fresh basil straight from your garden.

In this article, you’ll learn how to grow basil, whether you want to plant it outside or inside your home.

Moreover, you’ll get lots of useful information about the hardiness of basil, how to plant and harvest it, how to propagate it, and much more.

What is Basil?

Basil belongs to the mint family, but unlike other family members, it doesn’t spread uncontrollably.

All the plants in this family, including basil, are known for their highly scented leaves. This wonderful herb is a great addition to any garden.

Related Post: How To Dry Basil

Different types of Basil

There are many different types of basil, each varying in color, look, and flavor. Some of them are below:

Sweet Basil: Often considered the original Ocimum basilicum, this type can grow 12 – 24 inches tall and has the familiar flavor we all love.

Genovese: A larger, more robust type of sweet basil, Genovese has a stronger flavor and is slower to bolt.

Lemon Basil: With its pale green leaves and unique citrus flavor, this variety is known for its sweet lemon scent that fills your garden when it blooms in late summer.

Cinnamon Basil: Also known as Mexican Basil, this variety is larger than most, growing up to 3′ tall and 3′ wide. Its green leaves grow on pale purple stems, and it has unique flower spikes. The flavor and aroma are distinct because it contains cinnamate.

Sweet Thai: Frequently used in Asian cuisine, this variety has bright green leaves, dark purple stems, and flower spikes. It’s known for its slight licorice flavor.

Tulsi Holy: This variety is popular in Indian cooking. Its highly fragrant leaves have a slightly fruity smell and a mildly spicy flavor.

Purple Basil: This plant is admired for its dark purple leaves and is a stunning addition to gardens or containers. It’s used both as an herb and as an ornamental plant.

How Hardy is Basil?

Basil is an annual plant, meaning it only lasts one growing season. Unfortunately, this tropical herb is also very sensitive to the cold and can’t handle even a light frost.

So, you can plant it outdoors in your garden or pots during summer or grow it indoors.

Where to grow Basil? 

One of the best things about basil is that you can grow it almost anywhere. It grows well in the garden, outdoor pots, and even inside your home.

Growing Basil Outside

Basil loves heat and does best when it gets temperatures over 65F degrees. But, it also needs 6-8 hours of sunlight daily and soil draining water quickly. So, find a sunny place in your garden with good soil.

Basil also grows nicely in outdoor planters and pots that you can put on a sunny porch, balcony, or deck.

Growing Basil Inside

If you don’t live in a hot climate, it’s a good idea to cultivate basil indoors during the chillier seasons.

It can look good in a kitchen window, but use a good pot. Pick a pot with holes in the bottom to let water out, and fill it with good potting soil.

Basil needs a lot of light when it’s inside, too. So, put it near a sunny window, and if it starts to look thin and stretched out (or “leggy”), give it some extra light with a grow light.

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When to Plant

Basil plants can’t handle frost, so wait until there’s no chance of frost in late spring or early summer before planting it outside.

Don’t plant it too early because the cold can slow growth and cause other problems. So, wait until the soil is warm and the nighttime temperatures are above 55F before planting it outside.

How to grow Basil 

The steps are the same when you’re ready to plant, whether planting starts or seedlings you grew yourself. Make sure to give them lots of space to help keep them from getting diseases and mildew.

Dig a little hole in your garden that’s a bit bigger than the pot. Carefully loosen the roots and put them in the hole. Fill in the hole, then press the soil down around the plant so it’s held in place.

Tips for Growing Basil

Taking care of basil isn’t hard, but there are some things you should know to help your plants grow best.


Basil likes soil that’s rich, organic, and drains water well. Make sure your garden soil isn’t too tight.

If your garden soil isn’t very good, you can make it better by adding worm castings or compost. You can also mix in some rough sand or perlite to help the water drain away.

For plants in outdoor pots, use good container soil. For indoor plants, use general potting soil.


Watering your basil plant properly is the most important part of taking care of it and also the part people find hardest.

Basil develops quickly, requiring frequent watering. However, avoid overwatering as the plant cannot thrive in excessively damp soil.

Conversely, if the environment is excessively dry, the plant may feel stressed and begin to bloom prematurely. Therefore, maintain the soil damp but avoid making it overly wet or entirely parched.

Also, remember not to pour water on the leaves, just around the roots. Wet leaves can cause fungus and diseases, which can damage the plant.

Wait until the top inch of the soil has dried before watering again. Then give the plant plenty of water. A moisture meter can be useful if you find watering tricky.

Related Post: How to Grow Basil from Seed


Basil plants don’t need lots of food, but they will grow better if you feed them sometimes.

Don’t use any fertilizer high in phosphorus because that makes the plant start flowering, and you don’t want that to happen too soon.

If your plant is indoors, don’t feed it in autumn and winter.


If you’re growing basil outside, it likes to get 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. It doesn’t need direct sun and can do well in a partially shaded garden. But it won’t grow as well if it’s too shady.

If you’re growing it indoors, it needs lots of light to stop it from getting too tall and thin. Put it near a sunny window, or use a grow light if it seems to be growing towards the window.


Basil flowers are pretty, and bees love them. They grow tall and can be white, pink, or dark purple, depending on the type of basil.

However, the flowers take energy away from the plant, making fewer new leaves. So, it’s best to remove the flowers as soon as they grow if you want to keep picking leaves.

Basil Pruning

All types of basil will grow better if you prune them regularly.

Once the plant is well established, cut off the top half to make it branch out. This will make it grow more leaves.

Regular pinching and pruning will also help control the plant’s size and shape, and you’ll have more leaves to pick.

Also, pick off the flowers as soon as they start to grow. This will make your harvest last longer and keep the plant looking good.

Related Post: How to Prune Basil

Basil Harvesting

As stated earlier, regularly harvesting basil helps the plant to grow more tasty leaves. Cut off the soft ends of the branches when you harvest, and keep doing this all summer for continuous yield. 

You can pluck basil leaves whenever you like, but wait until the plant is well-grown and has several leaves.

Propagating Basil Plants

You can grow more basil plants either from cuttings of the stem or from seeds. The quickest way to get a bigger plant is to use cuttings. 

Snip off sections that are 3-4 inches long from non-blooming branches. Take off the lower leaves and insert the cut end into moist soil or water.

Starting seeds can be challenging. For the best results, begin planting them 6-8 weeks before the typical last frost date in early spring.

Tips to solve Basil Plant problems

Growing basil can get tough when you face issues you don’t know how to handle. So I’ll help you identify and solve some common problems.

Yellow Leaves: Usually, yellow leaves are caused by fusarium wilt disease or a lack of nitrogen in the soil. Check if the soil is missing nutrients and add them as required. If the plant is diseased, removing and destroying it is the only solution.

Brown Leaves: Brown leaves often mean you’re not watering enough. Make sure the soil never gets completely dry. If you’ve just moved the plant outside, the leaves could be sunburnt. Move it to a shadier spot and take a few days to gradually get it used to full sun again.

Powdery Coating on Leaves: A powdery substance on leaves is usually downy mildew. If your plant is infected, it’s best to remove it to stop the disease from spreading to other plants.

Plant not Growing: If your plant isn’t growing, it might be too wet or cold. Let the soil dry a little between waterings, and ensure the air temperature is above 65F degrees. Too much shade can also hinder growth, so give it more sun.

Weak or Leggy Growth: This usually happens with indoor plants. Weak or leggy growth indicates the plant isn’t getting enough light. Move it closer to a sunny window or use a grow light.

Wilting Plant: Wilting is often caused by too much or too little water but can also be due to disease or fungus. Water the plant regularly and check the leaves for signs of infection.

Bolting or Setting Seed: Bolting or “going to seed” is normal and will happen eventually. You can delay it by watering properly, avoiding high-phosphorus fertilizer, and pinching out the flowers as soon as they appear.

How to Harvest basil without killing the plant? 

One great thing about basil is that it keeps producing. Simply remove a few leaves or stems at a time. Never remove all leaves at once to avoid hurting the plant.

Growing basil is easy in your garden or containers, especially when you know the right care steps. Once you master it, you’ll have loads of fresh basil whenever needed!

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