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How Do You Repot a Basil Plant?

Basil is one of the best additions to your culinary herbs and spices collection and will make all of your meals taste delicious! However, a store-bought plant will soon stop growing and die is not cared for properly. Instead of having to make the most out of a few leaves only, find out how to enjoy your basil plant for longer!

How do you repot a basil plant? Repot a store-bought plant immediately after purchasing. If cultivating plant from seeds, wait for the seedlings to be two weeks old before moving them into a 20/25cm (7.9/9.8in) deep pot with a 7lt capacity. Or, if the climate permits, transplant your basil outdoors.

These guidelines are enough to give you an idea of what is expecting you ahead. However, there is a little more that you should know about to take the best care of your plant. Let’s dive into the details!

How Do I Transplant a Basil Plant?

What you will need for repotting

A larger pot

It should boast drainage holes at the bottom end and be at least 5 to 7 centimeters (2 to 2.8 inches) larger than the original container. Ideally, a fully-grown plant reaches the height of 60 to 75 centimeters (23.6 to 27.6 inches) and will need a pot as large as 40 to 50 centimeters (15.7 to 19.7 inches).

Potting soil

Basil plants prefer well-drained soil with a neutral pH. When transplanting basil, make sure that the new mix is similar to the one contained in the first pot to cause less stress to the plant.

A hand shovel

However, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, it is better to hand the delicate roots of seedlings without it!

A step-by-step guide

After you have gathered all of the needed equipment and your seedlings look healthy enough, let’s proceed to transplant them.

  1. Pick up the new, larger container and sprinkle the bottom of it with the new soil. The potting mix should add up to 2 centimeters from the container’s bottom.
  2. Gently pick up the original container and place your hands around its sides and bottoms. 
  3. Turn the pot upside down with a slow and steady movement.
  4. With your hands and fingers, apply pressure to the surfaces of the pot so the plant can slide out.
  5. Pick up the plant and place it on top of the soil in the new container. The upper surface of the root ball should be about two centimeters below the rim of the vase. If this is not the case, add or remove more soil from underneath it.
  6. Sprinkle new soil around the plant to close the distance between it and the surrounding pot.

Once your basil plant sits comfortably in the new pot, water them until you notice drops dripping through the drainage holes. Now it is time to move it in the sun, on your windowsill or, if temperatures allow it, outdoors!

Transplanting your basil plant outdoors

You should keep transplanting your basil plant into a larger pot every time it becomes big enough for the roots to lack space. However, as the weather starts to bring warmer temperatures and sunnier days, you can consider transplanting your plant outdoors. 

To do so, make sure that the last frost of winter or spring is finally over, as basil plants are susceptible to cold. Then, proceed to harden your plants by leaving them outdoors for hours at a time. Once they are ready for transplant, pick a sheltered area in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight during each day. 

Does Basil Transplant Well?

You will be happy to know that transplanting basil is not a complicated task! However, to prevent your plant from suffering from a shock that can stunt its growth and productivity, you should keep in mind that:

  • Indoor basil plants are ready for repotting when the seedlings are strong enough, which usually happens two to three weeks after germination. 
  • When transplanting your basil plants outdoors, ensure that the outside temperatures are suitable, and you have hardened the plants. 

When Should I Repot Basil?

Starting a basil plant from seeds is not only extremely easy, but it can also yield high satisfaction. Independently on whether you are planning to keep your basil plant indoors or eventually move it in your garden, repotting is a necessary step. Be sure to check out How Often Should You water Basil Seeds article.

As basil plants grow quickly and they are highly productive, you need to ensure that the roots have enough space to extend. Moreover, moving them into a larger pot, allows them to have access to more, replenished organic matter which is essential for their development.

Repotting in a larger container

Basil plants thrive indoors! Everything they need to develop is enough sunlight, well-drained soil, and steady temperatures around 20°C (68°F). For indoor plants, you can sow the seeds at any point during the year, provided that you meet all other conditions. The seeds will turn into seedlings within 5 to 10 days.

At this point, you should keep your plant in their starter pot for as long as two weeks before repotting. Some signs that tell you that they are ready for the move are:

  • 1 or 2 sets of true leaves
  • The seedlings are getting crowded in the small pot
  • The roots hug the root ball
  • The cotyledons (original leaves) or some of the true leaves are turning yellow

Transplanting your basil plant outdoors

If you are planning to move your basil plant in the garden eventually, you should aim at sowing the seeds in a smaller pot between mid-April and mid-May. This time frame allows the seeds to be ready for transplant around mid-June. In turn, summer is the perfect season to see your basil plant flourishing!

Before moving your basil plant outdoors, thin the seedlings and allow them to grow better in bigger pots for up to a month. When they are big enough to stand the external environment, and the temperatures are suitable, proceed to harden your plants. This step is essential to acclimatize them to your garden’s ecosystem. After a week, they will be ready for a transplant!

Can You Repot Supermarket Basil?

Supermarket or store-bought plants usually come in starter containers which contain a multitude of seeds. As these turn into basil seedlings, the pots become too crowded to supply enough nutrients to each growing plant! Indeed, supermarket herbs will bless you with a couple of leaves before dying. That is why you should repot them or transplant them outdoors immediately after bringing them home. 

For best results, when transplanting a supermarket plan, you should thin the seedlings. This process consists of cutting at soil level all of those seedlings that look weaker or smaller. Thinning allows the plant to focus all its nutrients on growing the remaining plants more robust and healthier.

Alternatively, you could opt to separate each plant and repot them into new containers. Even in this case, you might need to pick the sprouts that look stronger. For this second option, you will need as many as five different containers to ensure that the seedlings have enough nutrients. In any case, it is important to understand that the reason why many gardeners fail to see their store-bought basil plant flourishing is that the pots contain large quantities of seeds. 

Final Thoughts

Transplanting basil plants is easy, yet you should ensure that you are doing so only when your plants are ready and strong enough to withstand the change of environment. 

For container-growth basil plants, wait at least two weeks after seeds germination to move the plants into a larger container. If you wish to transfer your plants outdoors, instead, do so only after the last frost of spring, when air and soil temperature are stable and warm.

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