How To Plant, Grow And Harvest Basil

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Basil, also known as sweet basil, is a popular culinary herb used in many different cuisines around the world. It is a member of the mint family and is characterized by its fragrant leaves and delicate, sweet flavor. Basil is an easy herb to grow and is often used in dishes such as pasta, pizza, salads, and soups.

There are many different varieties of basil, including sweet basil, lemon basil, and Thai basil, each with its own unique flavor and aroma. In addition to its culinary uses, basil has also been used for medicinal purposes in traditional medicine. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and some studies suggest it may also have benefits for digestion and stress relief. Overall, basil is a versatile and flavorful herb that can add a fresh and aromatic touch to many different dishes.

How To Plant, Grow And Harvest Basil

Welcome to the only guide you will need to grow basil at home. Below you will find many different topics surrounding how to successfully grow basil. It is one of the most popular culinary herbs in the world, let’s discover how to harness this fantastic herb. Feel free to click through the table of contents below to find the topic you are looking for! 

There are so many different types of basil plants out there, in this post we will talk about the most common one, Sweet Basil. But there are so many others to explore as well, like Cinnamon Basil, Thai Basil or one of my favourites Peppermint Basil.

How To Grow Basil Indoors

  • There is no real secret to growing basil successfully indoors. But there are some really good guidelines to follow. This segment is only about growing indoors, so if you are interested in growing from cuttings or aiming for microgreen basil, find these topics further down. 
  • Whether you want to grow basil from seed or a cutting from another plant indoors, one of the most important things to remember is to keep the soil rich in nutrition and never let it dry out too much.
  • When we say that you don’t want it to dry out, this doesn’t mean that you can water it too liberally. Basil is a very water-stressed herb so making sure there is good drainage in the pot or container is very important as well. 
  • You might already know that you should never let the soil stay too moist or soggy. This will make for a perfect environment for roots to occur on the roots of the basil plant. These guidelines are true both for growing indoor and outdoor basil.

Whenever you are growing something indoors you also need to make sure the nutrition in the soil is rich, just like we mentioned in the beginning. This involves fertilizing the soil. When you grow something outside it has access to all the various nutrients traveling through the soil thanks to worms among many.

But inside in a pot or container, this access is very limited. I would recommend that you actually only use half of what the fertilizer says you should use. This will prevent over-fertilizing and causing long term damage. Note that you also want organic fertilizing if you want to harvest the basil and use it for culinary endeavors. 

If you want to take your indoor basil growing to the next level, then you should check the pH of the soil every now and again. I usually do it about every six weeks. Because I use organic fertilizers, it helps maintain the ideal pH of about 6 – 7,5. 

Green Basil Growing Upwards


How Long Does It Take Basil To Grow

  • Basil is probably one of the fastest growing culinary herbs to choose from. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you grow basil from seed it will germinate in about 4 – 7 days. That’s a rather quick process.
  • But the magic really happens when you look at the time it takes to grow fully developed leaves and being able to make your first harvest. Around 30 – 40 days is the time it takes.
  • Compared to much slower herbs like rosemary and thyme this is one of the reasons why basil is so popular among many people. 

As basil is a one year plant they will provide you with plenty of harvest throughout the year. But usually the time when the first harvest can occur is about 1 – 1,5 months after being planted from a seed.

But with these things being said, there are some things you need to take into account when trying to get your basil to grow as fast as possible. Keeping the pH of the soil healthy around 6 – 7,5 is a good habit. Do this by adding organic fertilizers every 2 weeks or so, depending on the dose.

Make sure the soil never dries out too much and keep it well drained. If you follow these steps your basil will grow in a normal healthy phase and provide you with plenty of harvests. 

How To Propagate Basil And Care For It Indoors Year-Round

  • Propagating basil indoors year round is not as hard as you might think. You take into account a lot of the normal stuff you would follow if you grew it outside.
  • The good thing with basil is that it’s a one year plant so you can follow along the plant throughout the year and see what works and what doesn’t.
  • But from the start. When you plant your first seed, do it only a couple of millimeters under the surface of the soil. This will give enough room to quickly germinate and grow to the surface, where it can start taking in nutrition from the air and light.
  • Like we mentioned above in how long it takes for basil to grow, we said that the germination process usually takes 3 – 7 days. During this period it is important to keep the soil moist and well drained. It will kick start the growing of the seed. Giving it the best possible start in life. 

After the seed has germinated and you might even have seen a small sign of it on the surface. Do as you did before. Keep the soil well drained and water every day or so. A good trick to use is to stick your finger about a centimeter deep in the soil and check if it’s moist. If it is, then most likely it can do another day without water. An overwatered plant will be more susceptible to root rot. Causing grave damage and issues.

Keep this up and after a month or so you should be able to harvest your first couple of leaves. Keeping the plant watered and in the light is the two most important steps to take. 

Basil Leaves On Top Of Wood


How To Grow Basil Seedling From A Seed

Growing basil from seed into a basil seedling is not as hard as you might think. We went over how to grow basil indoors year-round above and also talked about the process of growing from seed. 

Basil is a plant that germinates very quickly, usually around 3 – 7 days. This is when the seed sprouts out and starts forming very very small root systems in the soil. It starts taking up nutrition in the ground and soon you will see the first signs of life above the surface. 

The conflict of adding fertilizers to the soil comes down for me whether you are growing inside or outside. Inside it’s almost a must if you want a long lived plant. As the pot or container does not receive any new types of soils unless you repot the plant. Therefore it’s important to add some fertilizers quickly when you first grow your basil seed. 

If you grow basil outside then you might not need any fertilizer as the soil will most likely be healthy already. Grow it just a couple of millimeters below the surface and keep an eye on the progress of it. As basil likes to receive a lot of sun, make sure that you grow it in a sunny spot outside. It can be quite the hassle moving and replanting the basil plant once it has rooted. 

Here on GardensOfMine we have put together a guide that completly covers all the possible questions about growing mint from seeds. You can find that article here, How To Plant Basil Seeds.

How To Grow Basil From Supermarket

To grow basil from the supermarket is one of the easier things you can do. They usually already come in a small plastic container with small holes for drainage. 

The process is very simple, you can either keep the small container or repot into a bigger pot to have a more developed root system. Take out the pot you want the basil plant in and fill it with some soil. Either from the store or from a garden that you might already have.

Mix a little bit of fertilizer with water, as instructed on the package. Pour some of this on the soil to kick start the growing process. Next up is taking out the basil plant with all the soil attached to it. This is the most gentle way to treat the plant. Put it in the center of the pot that you choose. Gently press it down and put soil around it so it keeps stable. 

After you have done the steps above, you can water the soil again. Keep the plant in the light and now just wait. it will start to develop and spread its root system and it won’t be long until you can start having some pretty great harvest at home. 

The perks of using a plant from the store is that you already have a nicely developed plant of your choice. Finally being able to harvest will be much quicker compared to growing from a seed. 

Basil Growing In A Greenhouse Indoors


How Big Can Basil Grow

  • The size of a basil plant can vary a lot depending on the type of basil. The most common one, the large leaved basil can normally grow to about 40 cm tall. But if you just let it go on, it might reach even higher.
  • The size of the basil plant will often come down to how good its environment is. The more nutritious soil and better access to sunlight will both increase the size of the basil plant.
  • So if you want to grow a really large basil, then make sure the pH of the soil is around 6 – 7,5 so it’s not too acidic and causes problems. Keeping the soil well drained and relatively moist will also contribute to the size of the plant.


Basil Nutrition

Whenever you grow something, you don’t really need a whole lot of artificial nutrition. Ideally you would not need anything. But if you grow something inside then the likelihood is that you will need to contribute with some form of additive to benefit the plant. An organic fertilizer is really all you will ever need. 

This fertilizer will give the soil the necessary beneficial components and let the plant thrive. As in a pot you don’t have worms and other bacterias at the same scale as outside. These factors help make up the cycle of life in the soil.

How To Grow Basil From Cuttings

Growing basil from cuttings is a really fun way of making the most out of your thriving basil plant. Maybe as a way to give away plants to friends and family. To propagate basil from cuttings is a great way to quickly getting a large amount of it at home.

  • I find that the best way to go about doing this is cutting off a rather thick stem. Not one that will have a very negative impact on the planet of course.
  • An offshoot, or whatnot. Put this one in a glass of water, not soil. As the stem will need a good amount of water, this is the quickest way for it to start to develop roots.
  •  If you put it in soil, unfortunately it will go bad rather quickly, as the excess of water does no real harm to it, unless it’s for a very long time of course. 

Now, after a week or so, you should start seeing some form of roots starting to grow. When you see this, you can safely re-pot it and follow the steps we have outlined above. Keeping the plant in the sun and making sure the soil is well drained and nutritious. 

Picked Basil Laying On A Chopping Board


How To Grow Basil In Winter

Growing basil in the winter time is very possible. Basil is also probably one of the most rewarding herbs to grow during the winter as well. Like we have mentioned in this article is that basil is a one year herb. So plating during winter time and harvesting the last leaves the next winter is a pretty good rotation to have. It will work in your favor a lot since it will have gotten some growth before the high season of the summer comes upon. I haven’t gathered any data on this but from my experience I get a lot more basil to harvest if I plant the first seeds during the winter.

But some things are important to take in mind if you want to grow basil during the winter. Keep it away from windows as it will actually be quite cold here. Use an artificial light instead. This will most likely be the best approach to take. 

Use the same techniques that we mentioned in growing basil from seed. Bury it a couple of millimeters under the soil and keep it well drained and well watered. Use fertilizers every other week or so to keep the nutrition in the soil high. Overdoing it will harm the plant more than benefiting it. So follow the instructions on the label firstly. 

Doing these steps and then either keeping it in a pot when summer comes or repotting it to the garden will surely generate a lot of lovely harvest for you. If you want to know abit more about when to plant basil depending on where you live in the US or any other country, then check out the article here, When To Plant Basil.

How To Grow Basil Microgreens

Growing basil for microgreens is a very simple way of enjoying this herb a lot quicker. There is a slightly different approach that seems to fit best to get the most out of the herb.

Keeping the soil moist and well drained are two important steps to ensure before even planting the first seed. If you have these steps covered then you can start the fun stuff. Sprinkle the basil seeds quite liberally over the soil. Because we are growing to the microgreen stage, seeding a lot in a small space is perfectly okay. It is also the best way to go about doing this. Note that it will be slightly more expensive growing microgreens as you don’t get the same amount of each seed as if you would grow basil to its full potential. 

As basil germinates very quickly, you can expect to harvest within a couple of weeks or so. Take a very sharp scissor and cut off the stem of the plant, as close to the soil as possible, to get the most out of them. They will unfortunately not grow out again, so the best way is to either throw the soil in your compost or in the trash and grow microgreens again. 

Basil Growing In A Basket Outdoors


How To Grow Basil Seeds In A Pot

Growing basil in a pot is probably the most common way of growing basil. It’s the most convenient too if you don’t have a lot of space to grow on. Being able to move it around the house is also a big benefit for me. I can maximize the sunlight it gets during the day by moving it from window to window.

You simply do it like we talked about in the section on growing basil from seed. Plant it a couple of millimeters under the ground and keep it very well drained. Here it’s important to choose the right pot to plant in. If you don’t have a hole underneath then all the water will gather at the bottom of the pot and make the roots of the basil plant rot. This will cause great damage to the plant in the long run. So a small hole to get the excess water out of there is very important. It all really starts before the first seed even enters the ground.

It will germinate after about 4 – 7 days and after 2 weeks you will see clear signs if your basil plant is alive and well. Give it some fertilizer as well if you want to slightly speed up the process and make sure the soil content is full of nutrients. But if you plan on eating any of the basil from the plant then you should choose an organic fertilizer. 

A trick I also like to make use of is keeping the pot of basil outside in a shaded and wind protected place. I let it stay here during the day and when night comes around I bring it in. This will make the plant receive more beneficial nutrients from the air and in general, become a healthier plant all around. 

Holy Basil Growing Aspects And Harvesting Basil

Holy basil growing in the late summer is a great option to start harvesting from. The basil grown at this time of year will be very aromatic and full of flavour.

The best time to harvest basil is really at any time since it regrows so quickly. But some stuff is important to know if you want to maximize the potential of your basil plant. Cutting off what you need where two new sprouts or leaves are taking shape is the best way. This will give for new growth. It’s kinda like cutting off the head of a snake and having to grow out more. Maybe a bit morbid of a comparison but you get the idea. 

It’s a very rewarding herb to grow. I usually do most of my harvesting during the summer as this is when the plant grows the most and is as damaged as the excessive harvesting of it.

Harvested Basil Laying In A Wooden Bowl


Storing Basil And What To Do With Basil

Knowing what to do with basil is just as important as knowing how to grow it. The herb goes well with basically all things pasta and Italian, but also in any salad you might be throwing together at home.

I find that the best way of storing your harvested basil is by freezing it straight away in small bags or containers. If you don’t want to go with this approach then drying the leaves and slightly crushing them and storing them afterwards is also a good way to go.

But I want to stress this, if you dry the herbs, please don’t dry them over 50 degrees. This will have a deteriorating effect on the flavor of the herb. Low and slow wins the game with this technique. 

Basil Diseases And Pests

Basil can unfortunately like so many other herbs be affected by different diseases and pests that exist. Some of these include Aphids, Powdery Mildew and a variety of bacterial diseases that affect the stem of the plant, the leaves and roots too

Keeping a good healthy environment for the plant and maybe some tomatoes as a neighbor will prevent some harm to your basil plant. Taking these steps and making sure it always has what it needs are the best ways to go about protecting it. 

Basil Growing In A Cup In A Window



Is Basil Best Grown Indoors?

This will really depend on the season. Normally basil will need about 6 hours of sunlight if it’s grown outside. But indoors the benefits of the sun are decreased so it will need about 10 hours of sunlight instead. So depending on your situation, that will decide whether basil is best grown indoors or not, try a south-facing window for the greatest success.

How Long Will A Basil Plant Live Indoors?

A basil plant can live indoors for as long as a year if the conditions are right. If you keep the soil healthy and well-drained then it can surely live for a year. I usually let

they stay around for this long and even though they might be good for another month or so, I usually tend to grow new ones instead.

Is My Basil Overwatered?

If you feel unsure whether your basil plant is overwatered or not, you could take a look at how much water stays on the surface of the soil. If it quickly disappears then the likelihood is that it’s not overwatered. If it pools for a long time, then you might want to stay clear for a couple of days or even a week with the watering. Basil is a pretty hardy plant and likes a lot of water, but it can have too much of the good stuff.

Additional Basil Content