The most famous and easiest herb you can grow at home is basil which is still a member of the mint family. This herb came from India but it is often used to make Italian cooking. Basil leaves are extremely aromatic and also have various delicious flavors. Interested in learning how to grow basil?
Before you start learning the steps to plant and grow basil, you better get to know more about the herb you’re going to plant. Then you can check out some ways to grow basil.
Things to Know About Basil
Basil comes in so many species that all have unique tastes. The entire basil types can grow easily in sunny and warm weather. You can use basil leaves in cooking and also leverage the edible flower buds. Whether you will grow basil in container and garden, you need to know some of its varieties:
1. Mexican spice or cinnamon basil
Has green basil foliage and purple flowers. This cinnamon basil comes with spicy and cinnamon scent.
2. Genovese basil
Compared to sweet basil, Genovese basil has bigger leaves. The flavors are also richer than the sweet basil.
3. Thai basil
This is a sweet basil variety that has a licorice hint in its sweeter taste. This kind of basil is often used in many Asian cuisines such as the Vietnamese dishes.
4. Lemon basil
Lemon basil is a hybrid herb plant that has the distinct taste and odor of citrus.
Do you think you are ready to learn how to grow basil? If you are planning to grow basil during winter, then you need to learn many more things about basil since this herb plant really loves full sun exposure. But in extremely hot climates, you need to provide shade to help the basil grow successfully.
How to Grow Basil
There are at least 4 different ways to grow this herb plant: growing it in the garden soil, inside the containers, using the hydroponic technique, and in your kitchen. If you are still wondering about how to grow basil indoors in winter, check out the entire methods below and see if you can find the answer.
1. How to Grow Basil Outdoor
If you have a vegetable garden, it will be a perfect place to grow herbs like basil. Basil is a good companion for some vegetable plants in your garden. For example, you can grow basil with tomatoes. You can learn many more about basil companion plants down there. Right now, focus on planting prep.
There are some preparations you need to make before you start growing basil:
- Keep in mind that basil is the warm weather herb, if you want to grow it from seed, start it indoors around 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Then you can start harvesting basil leaves between 60 and 90 days after seeding.
- This herb is extremely sensitive to cold. How to grow basil and keep it warm? Watch the temperatures in early spring. Then prepare some covers to protect your basil from cold. If you will transplant basil seed or plant from cutting, keep the soil temperature at 70 degree Fahrenheit.
Now since you have learned about the preparation, you are ready to move to the next step, learning how to grow basil at homegarden.
- Plant basil by seed in ¼ inch deep inside the soil. Add space between seeds about 10 inches to 12 inches. If you plant bigger basil varieties, the space between each seed must be between 16 and 24 inches.
- Before you start planting, moisturize the soil since basil plants love moisture. How to grow basil in the hotter area? Use some mulch around your basil plants to hold the moisture while suppressing the weeds. Always water your basil plants during the summer.
- Once your seedlings start producing six leaves, you need to prune them above the second leaf set. Will basil grow back? Sure it will, pruning encourages your plants to branch and give you many more leaves.
- Every time the branch shows 6 to 8 leaves, prune the branches again to the first leaves set.
- After 6 weeks, you must prevent the early flowering by pinching off basil plants’ center shoot. If you’re late and the flowers grow, simply cut the flowers off.
- Early harvest is required if the weather will turn cold. Early harvest will save your plants from being destroyed by cold temperatures.
It is best to grow basil when the weather is warm. If you can provide enough warmth during the winter season, you can try applying the instruction above in the colder months.
2. How to Grow Basil In Pot
There are also preparations before growing basil in the pots or containers. You must find the right containers or pots so that basil plants can grow properly. Where to grow basil in the pots? Actually, you can use almost anything, almost all types of containers such as kiddie pool, laundry basket, or pots.
- But keep in mind that basil loves room so that the air will circulate better around basil plants. Make sure the container is big enough to accommodate lots of plants. If you use a small pot, use it to grow only one plant of basil.
- Basil also needs room since this plant is prone to the fungus. Keeping good airflow between every plant is going to save them from danger. Add 6 to 8 inches of space between every plant.
Now you can start following the complete instructions of how to grow basil in the containers or pots.
- Make sure you place the pots or containers in a sunny and warm spot. You need to give the plants 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. But if you live in an area with a hot climate, your basil plants will appreciate some shades.
- Use only potting soil that has high quality. Also make sure that the container has lots of drainage. Keep potting soil moist but make sure it isn’t soggy. Consider using the fabric pots then place the inside the bigger vessel.
- Unlike growing sage that is easier to start from the small plant, growing basil is much easier from the seeds. To encourage the sprouts, you must make sure that basil seeds get enough light. Plant them only ¼ inch deep. If you plant them too deep, they won’t get enough light to sprout.
- Always make sure that your basil is moist at all times. If the pot is too dry, the basil won’t grow properly. Dip your finger into the potting soil up to your second knuckle to check the moisture. If you feel the soil is dry, water the soil.
- The next step of how to grow basil is mixing your potting soil with organic fertilizer. Every few weeks you need to add liquid fertilizer that is diluted to the soil.
When you decide to grow basil in containers or pots, you must consider growing this herb with some other best herbs to grow in pots. Create a herb garden and harvest them every time you need to cook something and need their help.
3. How to Grow Basil In Water or Hydroponically
Can basil grow in water just like many other hydroponic plants? If there is no garden, growing basil in the containers will help. But if it is not possible to grow basil in the soil, you can consider planting basil in the water without soil. Here are some preparations to make:
- Purchase the basil transplant that is really healthy from any garden center close to your resident.
- Prepare some glass jars and water where you will grow your basil plants.
Now once everything is ready, follow the complete steps about how to grow basil by using the water instead of soil.
- Take some cuttings from the existing plant of basil. Remove the entire lower leaves, save 2 to 3 steps on the plant’s top. Cut the flowers as well.
- Place basil cuttings inside a transparent and clean glass jar. Fill the jar with the non-chlorinated water. Make sure only 2/3 part of the basil stems that submerge inside the water.
- Put your glass jar at the spot where your basil plants can get direct sunlight in the morning and indirect sunlight in the noon. Warm windowsill will be the right spot.
- Make sure to change the water once per 2 or 3 days as you keep watching the roots’ growth. The water you use should never be too cold or too warm.
- Next step of how to grow basil in the water is mixing 1 gram of N-P-K 20-20-20 and a liter of water. Transfer the mixture to your glass jar. Fertilize only once per 4 weeks.
Then you can wait until your basil is ready to harvest. While waiting you can learn growing thyme and some other herbs in the water.
4. How to Grow Basil Indoor
To get yourself ready to plant basil indoors, here are some things you must prepare:
- A bag of organic soil in high quality.
- A packet of good quality basil seeds.
- 4 to 6 inches pots or self-watering containers.
- Grow light if your interior doesn’t get enough sunlight or you want to try planting in winter.
Now here are the complete steps you must follow:
- Moisten your potting mix lightly then pack it firmly into your pots. Sprinkle the surface of your soil with some seeds. Cover them in soil in a thin layer then press the soil gently to firm it. Water the soil gently.
- Place your pots in the warm window that has southern exposure. Besides, it can be used to become a window garden. If you use the grow lights you need to set the timer so the lights will be on for at least 14 hours every day. Place your grow lights several inches above basil seedlings. When your plants grow, raise the grow lights.
- Another important step in how to grow basil indoors is keeping the potting soil moist but avoid soaking the soil. After two months you can start using basil leaves to cook.
Basil Growing Tips
Basil can grow bushy if you provide the soil, sun, and moist that it wants. Plant basil plants in the containers to control the growth of this herb plant.
Basil will also produce seeds. When the plants seed they will be bitter. How to grow basil without becoming bitter? By pinching off the flowering stems about an inch below basil flowers.
Basil Companion & Pests
Companion planting is a great technique to leverage basil. Planting along with tomatoes will make both tomatoes and basil leaves taste better. You can also plant basil with some other companion plants such as lettuce, peppers, chamomile, parsley, and oregano.
But how to grow basil with those companion plants? You need to learn the steps to grow the other plants so they can work well together. Always take care of your basil and its companion plants since ignorance will lead to some pests and problems including:
Harvest & Storage
To harvest your basil, pick the basil leaves as soon as the plants’ height is between 6 and 8 inches. The best time to harvest basil leaves is in early morning, it is when your basil has the juiciest leaves. Pick your basil leaves regularly in order to encourage the new growth during summer.
You need to harvest even though you’re not in need to use basil leaves. Picking the leaves regularly will keep your plants growing healthily. Store the leaves so you can use them later.
About storing your basil leaves, the most famous method is freezing them but you can also dry the leaves.
1. Freezing basil
This method will prevent the leaves from losing the flavor. Package chopped or whole basil leaves inside the airtight plastic bags before you place the bags in your freezer.
2. Drying basil
By drying basil leaves, you’ll actually lose some of its flavor. Hang your basils in a shady and well ventilated area for 3 days or 4. If they are not dry completely, oven them but leave the oven door slightly open and the heat is on the lower setting.
Which one between 4 methods of how to grow basil above will you try first? No matter which method you desire, make sure you provide the right soil, light, and moist to encourage the healthy growth of basil.