How To Grow Basil

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Basil is by far my favorite herb to grow and to add to cooking. There are many uses for basil, but I mainly use it in making salsa, and adding to spaghetti sauce.

Basil leaves can be dried as well and used in many different situations. Some people use dried basil leaves as a fragrance in rooms of their house. I have even seen basil sherbet, but haven’t tried it yet.

Basil is also a main ingredient in pesto, which I love with some dipping bread or on sandwiches. Basil is most popular for being prevalent in Italian and Asian dishes.

Growing Basil In Containers

There are literally dozens of different basil types with variations in leaf size, coloration, fragrance, and growth habit.

Some of the most commonly grown basil varieties are ‘Lemon Basil‘, ‘Genovese‘, and ‘Greek‘.

How to Plant & Cafe for Basil

Choose a sunny location with rich, moist, slightly acidic soil that drains well. Plants seeds or seedlings in the garden 12-36″ apart after the last frost date for your area.

Basil is highly adaptable and grows well almost anywhere, including raised beds and containers. It does very well when inter-planted with tomatoes.

Basil can be grown from seed sowed directly into the garden soil, or transplanted as seedlings.

Basil Is Easily Grown In Pots

Basil is very tender, growth slows in cool weather and leaves may wither and discolor if nighttime temperatures are consistently below 45° F.

Keep plants in cold frames in cool zones or anytime frost is predicted.

Pinch out the tops of newly planted tall seedlings to about 6″ to promote root growth. Cut or pinch off flowers as they appear to encourage bushier growth.

Keep the soil around plants consistently moist and weed free. Side-dress plants with well-rotted compost and use mulch to conserve soil moisture.

Pests & Diseases of Basil

There are many insects attracted to basil, but I would not ever recommend using any pesticides on an edible herb. Discourage pests by keeping the mulch from contacting the plant, and remove any unhealthy looking leaves.

Spray off aphids or mites with a shot from the water hose.

Basil Can Also Be Ground In the Ground

Basil is susceptible to fusarium wilt in hot, humid weather; look for cultivars that are bred for resistance and plant them in soil that drains well.

Remove and destroy infected plants, including the roots and surrounding soil.

Growing basil is very easy and requires very little maintenance. One or two good sized basil plants is usually enough for a small family.

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  1. Does basil grow back year after year?

    • Hi Regina – basil is an annual so in most cases it will not grow back the following year.

    • Regina, it is an annual but you CAN save the seeds if you are so inclined. It is a little tricky as they are pretty small, but worth the effort in my opinion :)

  2. Jessica Lynn says:

    Hi there! Love your site! :D Great info & pics….

    So my question is about fertilizing basil… Just read your posts on tomato plants & how not to use high nitrogen bc it’ll lead to lush & bushy plants w few fruits, but is the “same” true for basil? If I want a nice lush & bushy plant, should I then apply a fertilizer high in nitrogen? How about for oregano, cilantro, parsley, & rosemary? Since there are no “fruits”, is high nitrogen a better/good option? I’m fairly new to gardening and just planted my first “real” plot… I’m loving it & glad I found your site! :)

  3. I planted some basil seeds a few weeks ago and are germinating quite nicely. However, I had spread a thin layer of seeds around the entire pot and I now have a bunch of little basil seedlings in the pot. Should I pluck all of them out and leave just one or two or let them all grow in the 15 inch pot?

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