When to water basil?

When the roots grow out and up through the drainage Rootbound plants will require more water, not get. Learn about growing basil, how to plant, soil conditions, growing in pots, growing indoors, how often to water this tasty herb, and more. But there’s one herb that stands out in particular when it comes to the difference in Like a box of instant cake mix, basil plants just need water.

Caring for a basil plant isn?t tricky but it does have specific watering needs that vary from the time it is a little sprout to when it matures to a large. A tropical herb, sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) grows in gardens from U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 9 as a tender annual. And basil has shallow roots, so they require more frequent watering than do other plants—at least once each week during periods with no rain. Always water the.

Basil needs a lot of sun. I have had basil live, but not thrive, in less than 5 hours of sun per day. Optimally, basil would need more than 6 hours of intense sun. There’s nothing like clipping fresh basil leaves from your garden and Water: Give basil water when the soil is dry to the touch, doing your best. Learn how to plant, grow, and harvest basil, a fragrant herb that loves the heat When to Plant Basil During the dry periods in summer, water the plants freely.

Basil thrives with regular watering. Begin with a once-a-week schedule, and give your plant enough water so you see it run through to the. But there’s one herb that stands out in particular when it comes to the difference in Like a box of instant cake mix, basil plants just need water. You water when your 2nd knuckle sinks to the level of the dirt and you Like most herbs, basil will grow larger and live longer if the roots are.

Learn how to grow basil with this complete basil plant care guide by Fiskars today! Basil growing in containers will need more frequent watering. Your goal . I would love the details on how you grow basil so successfully. Specifically, where you got the plant or seeds, the temp range, watering, and. If you can stick your finger a half inch into the soil and it feels dry, it is time to water. What is the best way to determine how much water to use? When planting, if.

How to Grow Basil Indoors

Posted in Growing Basil

In contrast to growing basil outdoors, you will need to pay careful attention to providing proper levels of light, hydration and nourishment for the plant. Mother nature provides most of what a healthy herb needs naturally. However, if you are growing indoors then you should follow our suggestions below to ensure an abundant harvest.

The Soil

If you are growing basil indoors then you are going to be using a pot or other container, which can make maintaining proper moisture levels a challenge. Basil thrives in soil that drains well, so you will want to use soil that prevents standing water. So, rather than using soil from your garden in your pots, it may be better to buy a coarse-textured growing mix at the store. If you use soil that is too heavy or dense, you run the risk of having poor drainage. Contrary to popular belief, lining the bottom of your pot with gravel or rocks will not improve drainage but it will certainly inhibit plant growth.

The side-effect of having good drainage is that you will need to water container-bound herbs more frequently. So how often and how much should you water? Water when the soil is dry. If you can stick your finger a half inch into the soil and it feels dry, it is time to water. What is the best way to determine how much water to use? When planting, if you leave about a quarter-inch or half-inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot you can water to the top of the pot and that will be roughly the right amount. If you don’t want to worry about watering it consistently, you can use a special container such as the EarthBox which uses a reservoir to water your plants gradually over time.

Supplying your basil plant with proper nutrition is another challenge when growing in pots. Compost releases nutrients over months and years, more slowly than synthetic fertilizers, and may not provide all the nourishment desired for your container-bound plant. If you do use a fertilizer, we recommend using a relatively weaker mix or a diluted solution, and you can apply this every 3-4 weeks if needed. Please see the fertilizer section of care and maintenance where this topic is further discussed.

Pots and Containers

There are many types of pots and containers that you can use for growing basil indoors.Clay pots are porous and so you will likely be watering more often if you use these but the soil stays cooler in hot climates. Plastic containers are light and inexpensive and retain heat a little better for slightly cooler climates, but they tend to crack with age. Stone or concrete containers are durable but heavy, and likely something you won’t use indoors. Regardless of the container you choose, if you are reusing an old pot you may want to sterilize it first. Sometimes disease can persist from one plant to another if the same infected soil or pot is used. To disinfect, use a mild cleanser, soak the pot and then scrub and rinse it well. This will prevent any existing disease from spreading.


A common question people ask is regarding how many seeds they should plant. It depends on the container that is being used. With a long window box I recommend scattering a bit of seed along the length of the window box and thinning the weaker plants as needed. Once the plants are an inch or two tall you can use a spoon to dig under the roots and move them to better locations. With round containers, sowing a few seeds an inch or two apart should do the trick. Your basil seeds should be sown thinly and covered with approximately a quarter-inch (0.5 cm) of compost or fine soil. Keep the soil moist with a spray bottle and germination should occur within 5-7 days. New seedlings have two broad, “D”-shaped seed leaves. Once the seedlings have two pairs of true leaves you can thin out the weaker seedlings. Thin the plants to be 6-12 inches apart. Refer to care and maintenance for more information about tending your plants.

Artificial Light

If you are using natural light you will want to place the herb as close to a window as possible. If you reside in the northern hemisphere, the plant will do best if placed near a south-facing window where it can receive at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Basil can also be grown indoors using artificial light. You can use fluorescent grow lights or specially designed high-intensity lights. A basic high output fluorescent grow light can be had for less than $60 USD. One very good compact fluorescent grow light, which is quite inexpensive, is the Hydrofarm FLCDG125D 125-Watt Compact Fluorescent Grow Light System. Whatever your choice of lighting, normal fluorescent lamps should be kept a couple of inches from the tops of the plants. High output fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps should be kept one foot above plants. High-intensity discharge lamps should be kept 2-4 feet above plants. To simulate a natural habitat it is recommended to have a fan rustling the seedlings at least two hours a day.

For more information on grow lights and best practices for growing basil, visit our page Artificial Lighting for Growing Basil.

Are You Sure that Plant Needs Water? 5 Signs of Overwatering

Having a green thumb is not innate, it is a talent that must be earned through hard work, patience and dedicated learning. An easy rule of proper gardening and plant care is to water your plants. But, as with all gardening, even hydrating your garden can lead to complications and poor plant health. To know if your plants happen to be struggling from overwatering, take a look at these five signs below. Don’t stress, if you have overwatered, you are only guilty of giving too much love. Learn to take it back a few notches with these clues.

Wet and Wilting
1. It looks wilted, but the soil is wet. If your plant is green, well-watered and still struggling, you may have overwatered. This is the easiest sign that your plant has had a little too much agua. To prevent yourself from making this mistake again, only water your plants when the soil is dry to the touch. This little tip will keep you aware of plants that are in need of a good bath, and away from those who are full.

Brown Leaves
2. If the leaves turn brown and wilt, there is the possibility that you have been overwatering. At this point it may be difficult to tell whether a plant is wilting because of poor health, or improper water levels. Often, gardeners react quickly and throw on an extra pour or two of water in the hopes that the leaves will perk up. Before doing this, be sure to check your soil to see if it is wet. This doesn’t mean eyeing the top layer to see if it looks dry. Take and finger and place it into the soil at a point somewhere near the plant’s base. If the soil still feels dry, it may need water. Be sure to not let the fear of watering send you over the edge.

3. The third sign that your plant has been overwatered is edema. If a plant has absorbed more water than it needs, it can cause the plant’s cells to expand and stress. Often, these cells are filled to the point of rupturing. You can check for signs of burst cells by noticing any blisters or lesions on the plant. Eventually, these lesions will turn to dark or even white scar tissue. Another sign of edema is indentations on the top of leaves.

Yellow Falling Leaves
4. If you happen to have both yellowing leaves and new growth falling from your plant, there is a good chance you are overwatering. Try and remember if you have only watered your plant when the soil was dry.

Root Rot
5. Not only does the plant show signs of overwatering in its leaves and flowers, but the roots can also be an indication. When the soil is dense with water, it can limit the ability of the roots to breathe, they will then drown and begin to rot. Plant root rot is a fungal disease that will cause the roots to turn grey, brown or slimy and will eventually cause the plant to wilt. If a plant has root rot it is best to remove it from any garden bed so it cannot spread the disease.

If overwatering is an issue that may cause you stress, choose plants that will help you alleviate that stress. One great option is to choose plants that need a lot of water. If you are heavy-handed with the watering can, choose from these wonderful plants – astilbe, sedge, rose mallow, hibiscus, swamp azaleas and viburnum. To eliminate any issues that overwatering can cause, pick plants that don’t require much water at all. Save yourself the time by buying deer grass, salvia, dusty miller, tickweed, aloes or succulents.


Ocimum sp.
Basil – surely one of the best known herbs in the world, and with good reason! It’s tasty, it’s attractive and it’s dead easy to grow. With over 100 different species to choose from, Basil is never faulty! So, let’s get growing!

The most common type of basil grown in the home patch is sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), so let’s focus on that one. Bear in mind that most basil species enjoy similar growing conditions, so these handy hints will apply pretty much across the board!

Planting Schedule

Warm Areas: September
Temperate Areas: September

Cool to Cold Areas: October (once frost risk has passed)

Position, Position, Position!

Like me, Basil doesn’t really like the cold, which is good news for people in warm and temperate areas, but can lead to a bit of strife in colder regions. Sweet basil is what we learned horticulturists refer to as a “summer growing annual” meaning that, in theory, basil will die back once the cold hits every year. But, for those of us lucky enough to live in frost free tropical areas, a well tended basil plant can kick on for years!

So, where to position your basil plant(s) in your Yummy Yard? My hot tip would be somewhere… well… hot! Basil loves full sun, but in really warm areas, they don’t mind part shade. In the cooler climes, ensure your basil has at least four hours of sun each day.

Talking Dirty

Sweet Basil loves a beaut, rich soil, full of organic matter, but not chook poo! Try enriching your soil with chook poo free compost… your basil will thank you for it! The more fertile your soil is, the better flavour and performance your basil will have. And, as with all our Yummy Yardies, mulch with pea straw or similar.

Feed Me!

What I am about to say flies in the face of normal, sustainable horticultural practice, but, like me, basil needs food, and lots of it! Sweet basil is what we call a gross feeder (a bit like some of my work colleagues) and will eat anything it is given. Liquid seaweed, worm wee or liquid manure is the best, and this should be applied fairly frequently through the growing season, for fragrant, healthy, tasty basil. And remember, the more you pick, the more you need to feed!

What about the Water?

Let’s talk watering, ‘cos basil likes it fairly damp. Now, before you go nuts on the end of the hose, use your soil moisture sensor! What do you mean you don’t have one? Your pointer finger is the greatest soil moisture sensor in the world… and most of us have two of those. Stick your chosen finger in the soil, and remove. Is it damp, and is there dirt stuck to your finger? If yes, it doesn’t need a water. If no, read on! Water in the morning, to avoid water on the foliage as the temperature cools down. Never ever ever water your basil with greywater!

Are We There Yet?

There is no set time to eat basil… essentially any time you feel like it is great. And remember, the more you eat, the better the plant will be, especially if you give it a feed after using.

Pests and the Rest

Sweet Basil does have a few pest and disease issues, but one thing is guaranteed… if you plant it, they will come (they being snails and caterpillars).

Hot Tip

Now here’s my red hot tip for growing basil – pick often! Oft picked basil will not go leggy and doesn’t set seed too early, leaving you loving your basil for longer. Oh, and the pretty purple/white flowers should be removed to… if you want luscious leaves and fragrant flowers for longer.

Eat me! – (BLT) Basil Loves Tomato

Basil and Tomato Salad

This is the ultimate basil and tomato salad.

Thinly slice freshly picked home grown tomatoes and lay them on a serving plate. Thinly slice a red onion and scatter on top of tomatoes. Season by shaking salt and ground black pepper on top.
Pick your home grown basil, stems and all.
Pick the larger leaves off the stems and set side.
Place the smaller leaves and the stems into a saucepan with ½ Cup balsamic vinegar, ½ Cup olive oil and 1 Tb brown sugar.
Bring this salad dressing to boil, then simmer gently until it is reduced by half.
Strain the dressing to remove the basil leaves and stems.
Drizzle dressing over the salad, then garnish with the larger basil leaves you set aside.

Also try:
Adding bocconcini or other favourite soft cheese on top.
Placing the salad on crusty bread and pouring the dressing on top for a different type of bruschetta.

Basil pic © Elaine Shallue (SGA)

Growing great basil

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Basil is among the most popular of the culinary herbs, prized for its complex clove-like flavor that is both sweet and peppery. I grow many types of basil, in both garden beds and containers, but for ease of cultivation and flavor, it’s hard to beat sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). Growing basil is easy when you give it plenty of sun and well-drained soil. And, there’s no better way to elevate your summer salads and pastas than with handfuls of fresh, chopped basil.

Buying fresh sprigs of basil at the grocery store is expensive and it makes sense for basil lovers to grow their own during the summer months. For an average family of four, two to three basil plants should be enough. But, if you also wish to make several batches of pesto for the freezer, and I know that I certainly need my winter supply of pesto, I’d suggest planting at least eight to ten plants. My favorite variety for pesto is Basil Dolce Fresca, an All-America Selections winner that forms compact plants with super dense growth (see my main picture above) – outstanding!

Spicy Globe Basil is a small-leaf type that grows just one foot tall and one foot wide. Perfect as a low edge in garden beds or containers.

Growing Basil:

Many gardeners struggle to grow basil, and the question, “Why can’t I grow basil?” is one that I hear all the time. Growing basil is easy to grow IF you give it what it likes; sun, heat, regular moisture, and well-drained soil.

  1. Sun – For healthy growth, basil needs at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun. In Southern states, where the sun is intense and temperatures can soar, basil does appreciate some afternoon shade. In my Northern garden, however, I plant basil where it will receive direct light from sunrise to sunset.
  2. Heat – You may think that heat and sun go hand in hand, but in spring, that isn’t always the case and the biggest mistake gardeners make is putting out their basil plants too early. Basil is a warm season herb that is happiest when the temperature is in the 80 to 90 F zone (26 to 32 C). Plant it outdoors after the risk of spring frost has passed and temperatures are reliably above 60 F (15 C). Basil is very sensitive to both cold soil and air temperatures, with plant damage and blackened leaves occurring when temperatures dip below 50 F (10 C). If the spring weather takes a few steps back, cover your tender basil plants with a row cover, mini hoop tunnel, or cloche until the weather improves.
  3. Regular Moisture – Like most plants, basil appreciates consistent moisture, but this doesn’t mean constant moisture! Over-watering is one of the fastest ways to kill your precious basil. It likes a steady supply of moisture, but doesn’t want to sit in soaked soil. So, before you water, stick a finger in the soil to gauge its moisture level. If the soil feels moist, don’t water. Typically, I water my potted basil plants every day or two, unless the weather has been rainy or cool. Garden planted basil is watered weekly if there has been no rain.
  4. Well-Drained Soil – As mentioned above, basil plants need regular watering, but don’t want wet feet. Therefore, I’ve found they are happiest when planted in raised beds or containers. Raised beds offer excellent drainage, as well as early soil warm up in spring. If growing basil – or any other vegetables and herbs – in containers, be sure to use a high quality potting medium and pots with drainage holes.

I spotted this fragrant field of basil in the testing beds of a California plant breeder. When it flowers, basil is very attractive to bees and pollinators.

3 Tips for Growing Basil:

Basil can be grown in garden beds or containers from seeds or transplants. In my northern garden, growing basil directly from seed sown outdoors is slow, so I start my basil seeds indoors about 8 weeks before the last expected spring frost or buy transplants from my local nursery.

  1. Feed – After you plant your basil seedlings, scratch a slow-release organic fertilizer into the soil to offer a steady feed all season long. A regular supply of nutrients will encourage high quality, dense growth for plenty of homegrown basil.
  2. Pinch – Pinching your basil plants – by frequently harvesting – is the best way to promote heavy growth. Most gardeners also pinch off flower buds as they develop to maintain peak basil flavor, but those flowers are very attractive to bees, pollinators, and beneficial insects. Because of this, I do allow a few of my basil plants to bloom. Happy bees, happy gardener!
  3. Succession Plant – Many gardeners practice succession planting for crops like salad greens or bush beans, but they don’t think to succession plant basil. Basil is a perfect candidate for succession planting because flavor quality does decline with flowering. Therefore, planting several crops per season will keep you in delicious basil from late spring to the first fall frost.

Harvesting Basil:

Don’t be shy about harvesting from your basil plants; the more you pick, the more the plants will grow. When harvesting, don’t just pluck off the leaves. Instead, pinch the stems back to a pair of leaves. Once the stem has been removed, that pair of leaves will quickly push out fresh growth.

Harvest basil when you are ready to use it. Clipped basil can be kept in a glass of water in the fridge for a few days, but the flavor and leaf texture will decline. I also like to make several batches of pesto in mid to late summer to provide that summer basil flavor to winter dishes. I freeze my homemade pesto in ice cube trays or herb trays.

Best Basils to Grow:

There is a wonderful range of basils that you’ll find at your local garden centers and nurseries. Here are a few of my favorite types.

Genovese Basil (O basilicum)- This is the classic pesto basil with large, deep green, puckered leaves. Most types of Genovese basil will grow 2 to 3 feet tall.

Lemon Basil (O x citriodorum) – This fragrant basil boasts a citrus kick that adds flavor to fruit salads, marinades, salads, and pasta. I also like to use fresh clipped lemon basil in my homemade herbal teas. Just pinch, steep, and drink. Yum!

Thai basil is very ornamental with deep green leaves, tinged in purple.

Thai basil (O x var thyrsiflora) – Thai basil is very ornamental with dark green, purple-tinged foliage and deep purple flower spikes. The plants grow around 18-inches tall with leaves that have a delicious licorice-clove flavor, which pairs well in stir-fries, curry, and meat dishes.

Spicy Globe (O basilicum ‘Spicy Globe’) – I fell in love with this compact variety many years ago and still grow it in my garden beds every summer. The plants form attractive rounded mounds of tiny-leaves – no chopping required before they’re added to salads and pasta.

Basil Pesto Perpetuo is one of the most beautiful and easy-to-grow types. It has an attractive columnar form and variegated foliage. Plus, it tastes great!

Pesto Perpetuo (O x citriodorum ‘Pesto Perpetuo’) – If you love growing basil, you’ll need to try Pesto Perpetuo. It’s a standout in the garden! It offers exceptional flavor, variegated leaves, and an unusual columnar form. It’s a natural genetic sport and only available as plants, not seeds, but if you can source the plants, it’s definitely worth growing in beds and containers. Each plant can grow three to four feet tall, but stays just a foot wide. The stunning green and cream edged leaves are both visually stunning and richly flavored. Plus, the plants are sterile, which means they don’t flower and flavor quality remains high until the fall frost.

For more information on growing basil and other culinary herbs, check out these posts:

  • Try growing different varieties of basil
  • The 7 best herbs for container gardening
  • Growing a culinary herb garden
  • Plant an herb garden in a kitchen window

Are you growing basil in your garden?

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