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Ultimate Care Guide for Growing Basil

JP is an advocate of organic gardening. Moreover, he teaches practical and sustainable ways to care for gardens.

This ultimate care guide for growing basil plants will help you ensure your plant's health.

This ultimate care guide for growing basil plants will help you ensure your plant's health.

One of the well-known popular herbs to grow in your garden is basil and it is quite uncomplicated to care for and maintain. Also, having this aromatic herb on hand turns mundane cooking into an art form. So sit back and relax as we discuss the practical care guide for basil. Leave your anxieties about gardening behind! Caring for basil is so simple even dads can accomplish this!

What is Basil?

Basil is an herb in the mint family. Italian and Mediterranean cuisine usually include this phenomenal herb. Because of the ease in caring for basil, this is an excellent choice if you are starting your herb garden. Moreover, you can grow them in containers or directly into your garden soil. Likewise, you have the option to keep it indoors or leave them out in the garden. Basil grows tremendously fast and propagating them is surprisingly straightforward.

Basil Varieties You Can Grow

Similar to other plants, basil comes in different varieties. Each has its strong points that you can consider when choosing one for your garden.

  1. Sweet Basil - This is one of the most common types of basil varieties sold in groceries. The leaves of this variant is medium green and has rounder shape compared to other variants.
  2. Thai Basil - Unlike the sweet basil, this type of basil has smaller and pointed leaves . Also, it has a spicier flavor compared to the sweet basil. Thus, this is perfect for those who enjoy their food with a little kick.
  3. Lemon Basil - This variety offers a hint of lemony taste. Therefore, it is an exceptional choice for teas, desserts and even marinades.
  4. Spicy Globe Basil - This variety is smaller compared to other types. This is a superb choice if your space is limited. In spite of its size, it still have an exemplary flavor.
  5. Purple Basil - This variety of the basil plant is less flavorful. Although it lacks the strong aromatic scent and flavor, it has a gorgeous purplish hue. Thus, planting them in your garden creates an impeccable focal point.
It is easy to grow basil, just follow this guide.

It is easy to grow basil, just follow this guide.

How to Grow Basil From Seed: An Essential Guide

It seem logical to look for seeds when you start your herb garden. Here’s the good news: you can get basil seeds from a garden supplies stores near you or check online stores as well. But what is essential is following the right steps to enjoy successful germination of your basil plant.

1. Buy Your Basil Seeds

One option to growing your basil is to secure a pack or two of basil seeds from a gardening store. Likewise, online garden supply stores offer basil seeds. Regardless where you purchase them, always inquire about the expiration date. The viability of the seeds decreases as time passes. Thus, buy those that can yield more for your garden. Moreover, ask about the germination rates for each packet of seeds that you buy. I haven't seen any seed packet that say 100% germination rate. The higher the germination rate, the better chances of growing more basil plants.

2. Prepare The Best Soil For Your Basil Plant

Whether you are planning to plant it in a pot or in your garden, you're required to have excellent soil. The best medium for basil is a lose, well-draining soil. However, your garden soil may not provide the necessary drainage or even nutrition for your basil plant. As such, you may consider combining rice hull, soil, compost. I usually mix with a 1:1:1 ratio. Of course, you can experiment of the combination depending on the materials that you have. Before putting the seeds in the pot of soil or on the garden, sprinkle water to moisten the medium. This eliminates the need for you to water the after sowing the seeds. Furthermore, this will prevent pushing the seed deeper into the soil or having the seeds washed away by the flow of water.

3. How to Sow Basil Seeds: Practical Tips

Poke a hole around half an inch deep. Place a seed or two in each hole. This just assures that a plant will grow there. Just thin it once they sprout. Take care not to damage the roots as you do so. I usually space the holes around 6 inches apart. This provides adequate space for your plant when it germinates and grows. If you opt to plant them in a pot, you can choose a pot that is around 5 inches in diameter. Of course, the larger the pot, the more space for your plant to grow. Keep in mind that the amount of soil your container has limits the amount of nutrients that your plant receives.

4. Seed Trays or Direct Sowing: It's Your Choice

A number of gardeners choose to grow their basil plants in seed trays, you can do this as well. And when they germinate, you can transplant them in pots or directly onto your garden. Wait for the seedlings to reach around 3-4 inches tall before transplanting them. Although basil plants are strong herbs to grow, I prefer planting them directly where I want them to avoid any transplant shock. Plus, I am too lazy to transplant . I suppose that’s the real reason I opt to plant directly to where I want them.

Basil plants grow fast.

Basil plants grow fast.

How to Grow Basil from Cuttings: A Quick Tutorial

Another strategy in propagating basil is through cuttings. Here are practical tips when propagating through basil cuttings.

1. Basil Length for Cuttings

It would be prudent for me not to describe length based on inches or centimeters. Instead, when propagating through cuttings, it pays to look at the number of nodes in the stem. Nodes are the places from which leaves grow. These nodes have undifferentiated cells and we want that. These are the cells which eventually grow into roots. A stem for cutting should have several nodes. I usually target 4-5 nodes per stem. But I’ve grown basil with less than that.

2. How to Cut Basil Stems for Propagation

Now that you know the number of nodes to count, it’s time for cutting them. Here’s a rule of thumb when cutting stems for propagation: cut around half an inch below the node. This is where you want the roots to emerge.

3. Leave Just Enough Leaves

When propagating through basil stems, remove a few leaves from the stem. Just leave a pair or two at the top. The rest, you can save it for your meal. Perhaps we'll talk about how to use your basil for your meals. But that's for a different time. thinning the leaves ensures just enough leaves for photosynthesis but not too much as to draw attention away from forming roots.

4. How to Properly Water Your Basil Plant

Place your basil stem in a jar with enough water to cover the last few nodes. Moreover, consider using aerated water since chlorine in tap water is not ideal for plants. Plus, aerated water seems excellent for healthier roots. Also it avoids rotting of roots and the stem. So set aside a bucket of tap water for about 24 hours before using it for your plants. But the truth is, I’ve rooted numerous basil plants using tap water. However, remember to change the water every 3 days so as not to encourage growth of mosquitoes. Place your jar in a well-lit area. Lastly, expect your cuttings to have roots in a week or so.

Keep your basil plant healthy by following these tips.

Keep your basil plant healthy by following these tips.

Growing Requirements of Basil: A Practical Guide

Now that you have your basil plant, it needs TLC from you. Follow these practical care tips for basil and you’ll always have fresh herbs for your kitchen.

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1. Sunlight Requirements of Basil Plants

Obviously your basil requires sunlight. Treat your herb to 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. These herbs love the sun so give them this so they can return the love with more delicious basil leaves. Here’s a word of caution though, when replanting basil plants, it is prudent to put them in a partially shaded area for a few days as it adjusts to its new potting soil. If you transplanted directly to your garden, you may want to cover it with a net as it adjusts to the soil. This helps diminishes the stress of the plant. If your basil in placed indoors, it is prudent to place it near a window that receives adequate light. Also, occasionally bring out your plant outside just to give it a little boost.

2. Water Requirements of Basil Plants

Basil plants love water. But this is not an excuse let the basil sit in water for extended periods. Although you can choose to place them in water especially for basil on your counter tops, replacing the water is paramount to its health. After a while, you may observe that your plant may have a few issues. Instead, I recommend planting your basil in a pot where it can receive more nutrients from the soil or amend it with fertilizer. Just keep in mind that basil will thrive in a soil medium that is well-draining to avoid root rot.

3. Fertilizing Requirements of Basil Plants

Basil is a hearty plant that can withstand different conditions. Unless it is scorching hot or flooding, your basil will thrive with minimal care. But of course, we are here to take care of these herbs so let’s put in extra effort. For its nutrition, it loves nitrogen-rich environment. This will help create beautiful leaves. Thus, amending your soil with organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen is essential. Try incorporating dried cow manure into your soil for added nitrogen. I add rabbit and guinea pig droppings in my soil since we have these pets. As for Phosphorus fertilizer, I just prepare calcium phosphate solutions and spray it on the leaves and on the soil once a week. For potassium, I just amend the soil with banana peels or even create a banana peel solutions as foliar spray or even as soil drench. I give less priority to potassium amendments to the soil so the basil plants won’t bolt. I have observed that once it flowers, the taste and texture of the leaves declines in quality. I prefer organic fertilizers especially home-made ones. There are organic fertilizers available online but I suggest you try making your own. It’s quite simple.

4. Pruning Requirements of Basil Plants

Basil plants love constant pruning. In fact, pruning should be part of your routines to keep your herbs healthy and growing abundantly. Pruning your plant encourages leaf growth. Likewise, pruning prevents your basil plant from becoming woody. To achieve a bushier, healthier plant, try pruning ever two weeks for starters. The more you prune the plant, the more it produces. You can start pruning your plant when the stem has around 4 nodes per stem. So, enjoy harvesting your basil and it will reward you with delicious greens.

Start Planting Basil Now

Basil plants are effortless to grow and maintain. Without question, this is an excellent choice for individuals who are just starting an herb garden. This practical care guide for basil is for both newbies and seasoned gardeners. Start with the basics and then you can experiment on different techniques. You can even tweak your strategies depending on your specific location, resources and even the amount of time you can spend with your basil plants. Once you know more about your basil plants, the better you can care for them.

Remember, take care of plants so they can take care of you.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 JP Carlos


JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on February 28, 2021:

Hi there Venkatachari M I never really thought about basil as part of worship. That really sounds interesting.

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on February 28, 2021:

Hello Sp Greaney, The taste of basil is fresh and soothing. It can really make dishes pop out.

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on February 28, 2021:

HI there Devika Primić

It is a delight growing this herb. Moreover, it tastes sensational.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on February 27, 2021:

A good, informative guide to Basil Planting. I keep a plant for my worship purpose, but not for eating.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on February 25, 2021:

This is one herb that I actually prefer over many others. Thanks for sharing advice on how to grow it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 25, 2021:

Growing Basil is an interesting experience and I like your tips, most helpful and easy to follow.

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