Basil Planting Tips: Your Go-To Guide for a Thriving Basil Garden

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So you want to get into the basil game? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re diving deep into basil planting tips today, and by the time you’re done reading, you’ll be itching to get your hands dirty.

Basic Basil Planting Tips

Optimal Climate

Let’s kick things off by talking climate, the first consideration of any successful gardening venture. Basil is a sun-worshipping herb prefers daytime temperatures between 70°F and 85°F.

Sunlight Requirements: Ensuring 6 to 8 Hours of Full Sun Daily

Basil is a bit of a sun worshipper; it loves soaking up those rays. One of the most crucial basil planting tips you’ll come across in terms of care is to make sure your plants get between 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day.

But what if your garden is more of a “partial sun, partial shade” kind of place? Can you still grow basil? Absolutely. You’ll still get basil plants, but less sunlight may result in leggy plants with fewer leaves.

If you find your basil isn’t getting enough light, consider moving container plants to a sunnier location or rotating them regularly to ensure they get their share of sun evenly.

Finding the Perfect Planting Spot: Container vs In-Ground Gardens

So where should you plant your basil? In-ground gardens are fantastic if you have the space. Basil loves to spread its roots, and an in-ground garden provides ample room for that.

On the flip side, growing basil in containers offer the advantage of mobility. You can start them indoors and move them outside as the weather warms up. Plus, containers make it easy to control soil quality.

Soil Preparation: Slightly Acidic to Neutral pH, and Well-Draining Soil

When it comes to the best soil for basil, it isn’t too picky but does have its preferences. What’s it craving, you ask? A well-drained soil rich in organic matter, with a pH level ranging from 6.0 to 7.0.

You can improve your soil structure by incorporating compost or well-rotted manure into the planting area. It not only enriches the soil but also helps with drainage, which basil absolutely loves.

You should also use a simple soil pH test kit available online or in most gardening stores. If the pH isn’t right, you can always amend it with lime to raise it or sulfur to lower it.

Basil Planting Tips to Elevate Your Game

When it comes to basil planting tips we’re just getting started. We’re setting you up for a vibrant and aromatic basil garden.

When to Plant Basil: Starting Indoors vs Direct Sowing

One of the most crucial basil planting tips you’ll ever hear is all about timing. Basil is like that friend who never wants to go out when it’s cold. Seriously, basil hates frost.

If you’re living in an area where winter overstays its welcome, you might want to start your basil seeds indoors.

Starting indoors is super convenient. Use seed starting trays and a high quality seed starting mix and plant the seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost. When it’s time to transplant your basil seedling will have a nice jump on the season.

If you’re not up for indoor planting, wait until the outside temps at night are consistently above 50°F. Then you can sow directly into your garden or container. However, plant size may be smaller if you have a short growing season.

Either route you choose, it helps to know the ins and out about how to grow basil from seed.

The Perfect Time to Plant: Morning or Afternoon?

Believe it or not, the time of day you plant can make a difference. The best times to get your basil into the soil are in the early morning or late afternoon. Why? Well, the sun isn’t as intense, which means less stress on your new plants or seeds.

If you started your basil from seed indoors, be sure to harden off your seedlings before exposing them to full sun.

Seed Spacing: Don’t Crowd the Party

One of the simplest yet most effective basil planting tips relates to seed spacing. If you’re sowing seeds directly into the soil, aim to space them about 10 to 12 inches apart.

Giving each plant room to grow ensures adequate air circulation, which helps prevent diseases like downy mildew. By following these basil planting tips, you’re setting the stage for a healthy, abundant basil crop.

Watering and Fertilizing Requirements: Striking the Right Balance

Now, here comes one of the most significant basil planting tips: how to water your basil plants. Basil likes soil that’s moist but not waterlogged.

Overwatering is a surefire way to invite root rot, so it’s generally better to let the soil dry slightly between waterings.

If you prepped your soil with compost, you might not need additional fertilizers for basil. However, for long-growing seasons, a balanced fertilizer applied every 4-6 weeks can keep your basil happy.

Organic vs Chemical Fertilizers: What’s Best for Basil?

If you’re torn between organic and synthetic fertilizers, you’re not alone. Organic options like compost tea or fish emulsion are excellent for basil and improve the soil structure over time.

Synthetic fertilizers offer quick nutrients but don’t improve the soil’s long-term health. In the end, it comes down to your personal preference and gardening philosophy.

Be sure and check out our article on how to choose the best fertilizer for basil.

Planting Depth and Spacing: Giving Your Basil Room to Grow

When you’re ready to plant, aim for a depth of about 1/4-inch if you’re using seeds. If you’re transplanting young plants, make sure the root ball is fully covered with soil.

As for spacing, give each plant about 12 to 18 inches of room to spread out.

Considering Companion Plants: What Grows Well with Basil

Did you know that some plants make better neighbors than others? Tomatoes and basil are like the dynamic duo of the garden world. Basil helps to repel pests that love munching on tomato plants.

Other good basil companion plants include peppers and oregano.


Harvesting and Storing Your Basil

While this section doesn’t involve growing basil, this information goes hand in hand with our other basil planting tips.

When and How to Harvest Basil for the Best Flavor

Here’s a golden basil planting tip when it comes to harvesting basil leaves, timing is everything. For the most potent flavor, you’ll want to harvest just before the plant starts to flower.

The oils responsible for that amazing basil aroma are at their peak at this stage. If you see flower buds forming, nip them off to prolong this stage as long as possible.

To harvest, simply snip off the leaves or stems with pruning shears or sharp scissors. Aim to cut just above a set of two leaves; new branches will grow from that point. Pruning basil plants properly will make them bushier over time.

It’s best to do your harvesting in the morning when the leaves are well-hydrated and full of oils.

Quantity Matters: How Much to Harvest at Once

Here’s another of my favorite basil planting tips when it comes to harvesting: moderation. As tempting as it is to grab handfuls of aromatic basil leaves, try not to harvest more than one-third of the plant at a time.

This ensures that your basil plant remains robust and has enough leaves to continue the photosynthesis party.

Storing and Preserving Your Basil

So, what to do with all that basil you’ve harvested? Fresh basil stems can be stored in a glass of water at room temperature for a few days, or you can wrap them in a damp paper towel and store in the fridge.

If you’ve got basil coming out of your ears and can’t use it fast enough, consider preserving it. Drying and freezing basil are the most common methods.

Dried basil can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year, while frozen basil works great in cooked dishes.

You’ll definitely want to check out our guide on storing and preserving basil to make the most of your harvest.

Troubleshooting Common Basil Growing Problems

In this section we’ll go over some common basil problems that you might experience.

Addressing Wilting: Water Properly

One of the most common issues basil growers encounter is wilting leaves. If you notice your basil looking a bit droopy, don’t jump to conclusions and flood it with water.

Overwatering can often exacerbate the problem. Check the soil first; if it’s soggy, you may need to cut back on watering and ensure proper drainage.

Root Rot: The Silent Killer

Root rot often comes hand in hand with overwatering. If you notice a musty smell or see black, mushy roots, root rot is likely the culprit.

Unfortunately, once root rot sets in, it’s hard to save the plant. Your best course of action is to remove the affected plant.

Yellowing Leaves: Nutrient Deficiency or Too Much Love?

Yellowing leaves can be a sign of multiple issues, but two common ones are nutrient deficiencies and overwatering. If your basil is in well-drained soil and still has yellow leaves, a nutrient imbalance may be to blame.

Feeding your plant a balanced, slow-release fertilizer can often perk it back up. On the other hand, if you’ve been a bit too generous with water, consider easing back and letting the soil dry out a bit between waterings.

Pest Infestations: Aphids, Whiteflies, and Slugs, Oh My!

While basil is relatively hardy, it can still attract pests like aphids, whiteflies, and slugs. Aphids and whiteflies can often be managed with insecticidal soaps or neem oil sprays.

Always apply these treatments during cooler parts of the day to prevent leaf burn. Slugs can be deterred with barriers like crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth spread around the base of your plants.

Flowering Too Soon: Keep Those Buds in Check

Basil plants that start to flower (aka bolt) too early can be frustrating, as flowering changes the plant’s flavor. One of the most useful basil planting tips to manage this is to pinch off the flower buds as soon as you notice them. This will help the plant focus its energy back into leaf production.

Mold and Mildew: A Fungus Among Us

If you notice a powdery white substance on your basil leaves, you might be dealing with mold or mildew. This is often a sign of poor air circulation or excessive humidity. Pruning your plants to improve air flow can often resolve this issue.


There you have it, folks. With these basil planting tips, you’re well on your way to having the basil garden of your dreams. So what are you waiting for? Get planting and take your culinary adventures to the next level!

FAQ: Basil Planting Tips

How late in summer can you plant basil?

You can plant basil up until mid-summer, generally around July, to ensure it has enough time to flourish before the first frost hits. However, basil is sensitive to cold, so be mindful of your local climate.

Should I pick basil from the top or bottom?

Always pick basil from the top. This encourages bushier growth and helps to prevent the plant from getting too leggy. It also helps in producing more leaves as opposed to stems.

Does picking basil encourage growth?

Yes, picking basil does encourage growth. Regular harvesting stimulates the plant to produce new leaves, leading to a bushier and more robust plant. Just make sure not to take more than one-third of the plant at a time.

What happens if you don’t pick basil?

If you don’t pick basil, the plant will focus its energy on flowering and seed production rather than growing new leaves. This results in a less productive plant with a woody stem and fewer tasty leaves to harvest.

Should you let your basil flower?

Generally, you should avoid letting your basil flower if you’re growing it for culinary uses. Flowering changes the taste of the leaves, making them less sweet and more bitter. However, if you’re saving seeds or attracting pollinators, flowering is okay.

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