Basil is a fantastic fragrant herb that you can grow indoors or outdoors, as you want. To make your life easy during the summer, for example, you can successfully grow it indoors, provided you supply an adequate amount of water and light. Basil’s aesthetic value, ability to produce aromatic oils, or attribute as an essential part of our diet makes it quite popular.
How can you grow basil indoors? When you are growing these nutritious herbs indoors, use the right types of well-drained and fertilized soil. Moreover, provide adequate water since basil cannot tolerate water stress, but be careful to avoid making the soil soggy. Furthermore, apply safe fertilizers and ensure they have access to adequate sunlight or provide artificial light.
Learning how to handle quality basil seeds or cuttings and take care of the seedlings and the grown plant is perhaps the most exciting thing for people who want a bounty harvest. Read on to discover the essential tips that can help you to achieve your target without spending a lot of time or money.
Discover Best Ways to Grow Basil Plant Indoors
Create the Ideal Growing Conditions
Before you start growing basil indoors, ensure your location experiences the ideal growing conditions. Sunlight is essential for photosynthesis. Therefore, you must ensure your plants get it. However, if your plants cannot get a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight, you can use fluorescent bulbs to provide the required amount of light every day.
Ensure you have adequate water since the soil should remain moist at all times. Moreover, the best temperature should be close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). Your source of light can help you to achieve this desired level of warmth.
Purchase Quality Seeds
Once you are sure your plants will survive, purchase quality seeds, which is the easiest way to grow basil indoors. Buy from a reliable nursery or garden store. Alternatively, you can buy online. You can get over 100 seeds at an incredibly affordable rate using any of these modes.
However, if you opt to purchase them online, be sure you conduct extensive research to be able to find the most reliable companies that sell the best seeds at a low price and deliver in time.
However, you may also plant from other options, other than seeds, if applicable to you. You can place basil cuttings in the water and wait for them to root within a week. If you want to use this option, go for four-inch sections of this plant that are yet to flower. Moreover, for people who prefer planting cuttings, they should also choose healthy ones.
Note that planting basil plants from seeds is the most popular and viable option.
Fill the Right Containers with Moist Soil
Choose the ideal container and fill ¾ of it with coarse, well-draining soil. Sprinkle some water on the soil to make it moist.
Once you scatter the seeds in the containers, sprinkle dry soil to cover them. You may sow more than one seed in each container to mitigate the risk of some failing to germinate. The layer of soil covering should be about ¼ inch, which is adequate to cover the seed and aid them in growing.
Do not pack down the soil. But spray the soil with some little water and place the containers in a place where they have access to adequate light.
When should you plant? Basil seeds germinate within a short time. When you are planting from seed, you should do so approximately six weeks before the last frost since it is highly sensitive to cold. If you notice that the spring temperatures are unbearable, consider covering the seedlings.
The exact amount of time that your seeds can take to germinate depends on many factors, especially the available moisture, soil temperature, and the intensity of the light.
Ensure your plants have the right amount of spacing. Depending on the variety that you have chosen, expect your basil to grow to between 12 and 24 inches. With this height consideration in mind, you should consider planting spicy globe basil due to space limitations. Outdoor basil plants need between 12 and 16 inches space between them. When you can only grow in containers, you have higher chances of success if you select the species that form the desired mounding habit.
Take Care of Your Growing Plants
After 5-to-10 days, you should focus on taking care of your seedlings to ensure they grow well. Apply a weak liquid fertilizer every week. Since basil is relatively disease and pest free, you do not have to use any chemicals. However, you should prune and top them as frequently as possible. This means you are welcome to start using the leaves of your growing basil plants as soon as they branch out or are established.
The most recommended time to start thinning your seedlings, however, is when they have developed two pairs of leaves. You can sow many seeds to ensure you do not waste a lot of time and energy when some fail to grow well. But once they have germinated, ensure they are between 6-and-12 inches apart. Either remove the unwanted plants by the root or snip them off at the soil level.
Moreover, you should prune your basil plants once they are 6 inches tall. At this time, they have three sets of leaves. You can use a sharp pair of scissors and cut these leaves. When you pinch these tops off, better leaves grow. Besides, your plants do not become unnecessarily “leggy.”
The pruning process is not once-off. Do it every few weeks. Remember, pros do not remove healthy leaves until the actual harvesting time. Instead, they target those that are weak, damaged, or have stunted growth. Besides, they do not throw away most of these pruned leaves, given that they are often safe to eat.
Never forget to water basil plants frequently and in the right way. Pour water at the soil line instead of the leaves or stem. This way, you avoid dripping wet leaves but enable the roots to absorb an adequate amount of water.
Containers to Use at Home
Without a doubt, as we have already implied, you can grow basil plants in almost any container. Whether you have a pot, a kiddie pool, a laundry basket, or any option, you can use it and harvest at the right time.
But your container should be spacious enough. Many successful gardeners recommend that you plant three mini-basils in a 12-inch pot. For a three-gallon, you can plan one basal plant per pot or a maximum of two plants for a 4-gallon container. Fabric pots are also recommended because they are lightweight and help to keep the soil moist and not soggy.
If you are concerned about the cold weather in your location, you can choose ceramic pots. They hold heat much longer than the others.
These plants also do well in window boxes, as they create adequate room for the roots to spread freely at the bottom. You can plant four basils in one of them, given that one box is 8 inches by 6 inches high, 6 inches wide, and 3 inches long.
Whether the container is made of concrete, plastic, stone, clay, or any other material, it should have large drainage holes. Almost all of them should be at the bottom. However, to ensure water does not leak all over, put a tray below your containers.
Many successful gardeners prefer clay pots and plastic seedling trays.
Your main areas of concern should be how your container allows air to circulate your plants and the drainage capacity. A large box ensures they don’t like crowds, and, therefore, keeps fungus at bay.
Type of Soil to Use at Home
Basil plants thrive in fertile soil that has been prepared in a way that allows adequate air around the roots. Gardeners often introduce organic manure into the soil before sowing to improve the quality of the soil. However, this is not the ideal option for indoor plants. The best solution is general-purpose compost for the soil used to plant basil indoors.
The acidity of the soil also matters a lot to your success. The right soil for planting basil should have a pH of between 6 and 7.5. Check the pH of the earth at least once a month to ensure it remains within the required limit. Use organic fertilizers to maintain not only the nutrients in the soil but also the pH level.
Since basil leaves are primarily cultivated for culinary purposes, avoid non-organic fertilizers at all costs. Ensure you are on the right track by mixing the organic component into the soil and use the right pH strips to test the acidity level of the earth.
The exposed sides of containers where basils are planted make it incredibly necessary for the indoor-grown plants to be watered regularly. The only way to conserve some moisture is to use the appropriate mulch.
Start by watering your basil plants once a week. Before you sow your seeds, use a spray to moisten the soil. Once that is done, and the seeds have been covered with dry soil that is enough to protect them, sprinkle water over the added layer using your hands. If you have spray, you can use it to moisturize the topsoil.
If the soil feels too dry at the end of the week, you should start watering them either twice or thrice per week. In essence, since the seeds can germinate within less than seven days if you create the right growth conditions, watering once may be enough for the seedlings to emerge from the soil.
Seedlings require consistent watering. Water them every day as you watch the soil for any signs of fungus or mildew. The warm earth can cause these dangerous conditions, especially if it is moist. As long as the soil is damp, you are good to go.
Water your established basil that is in the full sun at least once per week. However, if you are using a larger planter box, you may only need to water the plants after every 3-to-4 days. Overall, in all these three stages of growth, the management of moisture levels is crucial for determining how much water you should use every given time.
How Moist Should the Soil Be
The best way to test for moisture is to consider whether the soil is moist about 2 or 3 inches below the soil’s surface. If it is, you should not worry whether the surface appears dry. Also, you can consider if some leaves are turning yellow or scorching. You need to water frequently without overdoing it, as this could cause fungus diseases or root rot.
Before the seeds germinate, you do not have a lot of work to determine the amount of moisture. Since seedling does not require a high amount of water like grown ones, you can use either a plant moister or sprayer to moisten the top layer of the soil. Use this method as the seeds germinate, and once you notice the first sprouts. Consider the prevailing weather conditions to control the amount of water that you spray.
Once the basil plants are established, you can stick your finger in the soil to see whether your container-raised plants are well watered or not. For the most accurate results, also test whether the top of the soil feels both cool and dry and the bottom not only cool but also moderately damp.
In the indoor containers, this is incredibly easy to determine. But if you think you need help to prevent excess moisture, you can use a soil moisture meter.
If you do not have any of the soil testing tools, you can still use the underlying testing mechanism above and achieve your goal. In some cases, you can use your naked eyes to determine whether the moisture content in the soil is adequate. The standard tactic is water your plants whenever you notice that they are starting to wilt.
To quench the thirst, ensure you water your basil plants and then give some time to allow the water to soak. You should then continue watering. Despite the significance of light, you should consider moving the plants away light for a while to allow them to recharge fast. This is often an issue if your basil has access to direct sunlight.
If you remove your plants from direct sunlight and water them appropriately, you are highly likely to see them look healthy after about 4 hours. For the best results, you can also prune dead leaves at this stage, if required.
Sun or Artificial Light Requirements
Basil grows well indoors, provided it receives adequate sunlight. Some people grow these plants with about 4 hours of daylight. However, the recommended amount is a 6-to-8 hour of direct sunlight every day. Thus, part of being a successful basil gardener is watching the patterns of the sun in your locality.
However, if your location does not receive at least 6 hours of sunlight, position an artificial source of light between 2-and-4 inches above your plants if it is high intensity. Otherwise, put it away by 2-to-3 inches.
Use fluorescent bulbs and be sure you keep them on for at least 12 hours daily. This way, you can meet the artificial light requirements without any problem and create the right condition for your basil plants to thrive.
Basil seedlings and mature plants have a specific temperature tolerance range, and when you are planning to grow these plants indoors, you have to bear this in mind. Otherwise, you may not have the best experience.
To get a good sense of the right indoor temperature for basil seedlings and mature plants, you need to consider the natural growing conditions. The plant performs well in tropical climates. The most logical conclusion from this is that indoor basil requires hot weather to be productive. The average temperature is 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can perform exceptionally well up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
In simple terms, these figures mean basil seedlings and mature plants thrive at the same temperature as you do. Do you feel warm when you spend some hours inside the room where your basils are growing? If you do, you do not have to look for a thermometer to measure the temperature of the room. That is ideal for your plants.
Going by the given average temperature, the plant cannot do well in cold weather too. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can destroy it immediately. Some gardeners think, however, that it can do well in temperatures approximately 43 degrees Fahrenheit. These conflicting statistics show that we need to play it safe. How can this be done? The surest way to grow your basil plant indoors is to avoid cold temperatures.
At the same time, remember to keep the optimal rate at no more than 72.5°–82.4°F.
Temperature fluctuations during the day and night should not interfere with your plans to maintain the right temperature range. The drop at night should be between 64.5° and 71.5 °F. Remember, seedlings are more sensitive to heat fluctuations than grown plants. As such, you need to take extra care in the initial stages of the growth of basil.
The temperature tolerance range for basil seeds is slightly different from that of the seedlings and established plants. It can determine the rate of successful germination as well as the time taken for the plants to grow.
For your basil seeds to germinate, as you desire, ensure you maintain a temperature range from 73 to 81°F. Expect the quickest germination if you can keep it at around 79°F. At night, the temperature should drop by about 10°F.
If you maintain the optimal temperature, your basil seeds should germinate within one week. Besides, the success rate should be about 90%.
Too high/low temperature is bad to you in many ways that you cannot ignore.
First, too much heat increases the rate of transpiration, which causes unnecessary stress as the plants strain to retain the limited amount of moisture inside them.
The high degree of stress also exposes basil to attacks by diseases and pests. If they invade the stem, leaves, or roots, you can expect reduced or no harvest. In some cases, the lack of water can destroy some cells of the plants and lead to wilting if nothing is done in time, all the plants to die and leave you disappointed.
High temperature also affects seeds. At this rate, the rate of germination reduces to 50% or much lower.
Cold weather can also lead to stunted growth. The leaves can also get deformed and turn black, which is an indication that the cells cannot withstand the current temperature.
Due to this problem, basil plants can become excessively susceptible to destructive diseases.
Whenever the temperature falls below the required standard, the germination rate also drops and can hit zero.
As such, if you notice that the temperature is not suitable for your basil, take the appropriate action immediately. Transfer them to either a colder or a warmer environment or introduce a heating device, depending on the current need.
If the area is hot, ensure you water your basil adequate to reduce the chances of losing your plants.
The humidity of your area determines your frequency of watering. The general recommended watering frequency is twice per week. However, if the top of the soil looks dry, you may need to alter this schedule and water more frequently.
The idea here should be to keep the humidity levels above 60 percent for the seeds, seedlings, and grown plants. You can use a humidifier or trays of water to achieve this. Another way to succeed is to manage the temperature appropriately. Too much heat can cause the moisture in the surrounding to evaporate and adversely affect the rate of humidity.
In case your home is too dry, you need to place the container where you have sown your seeds in a pebbles-filled tray. This way, you increase humidity and create the right atmosphere to help your seeds to germinate.
By following the provided watering schedule for basil seeds, seedlings, and full-grown plants, it is possible to maintain the right humidity throughout and successfully grow basil.
When Can You Harvest
For you to produce and enjoy eating basil leaves that taste sweet and fresh, harvest before flowering.
If you do not have an urgent need for this tasty food, you should plan to harvest once the plant is approximately 6-and-8 inches tall.
Since the taste of basil changes as it matures, you should consider snipping off the flower buds as they form. This happens approximately 75 days after sowing. This way, you slow down the flowering process that can make the plant begin to taste bitter, which some people do not like. In other words, you prolong the vegetative phase by destroying the flower buds.
There is no definite harvesting time. You just pick the right opportunity by considering your needs and the flowering season.
When you harvest, you prompt those plants to produce more large leaves for you. So, you can adopt a regular harvesting schedule to keep your basil plants productive throughout their lifetime.
How Should You Harvest
When you need a small amount of this fragrant herb, use your fingers to pick off the leaves. Alternatively, you can cut them using sharp scissors. Despite the time of your harvest, you cannot harm the plant if you pick or cut a few leaves. At the time of harvest, however, basil should have developed at least three sets of leaves.
If you do not want to harvest everything from before, ensure you leave at least two-thirds of the basil leaves on the plant. These plants rely on them to manufacture their food and continue thriving.
When you require large amounts of this basil, you should cut above the region where two leaves meet. This way, you can get many delicious leaves. Moreover, you allow new growth to continue, which might be crucial to you as a visionary garden. When you preserve your basil plants for a more extended period, you save your time and money by getting adequate time to do other essential things and improve your garden.
If you have heard experienced gardeners advice against the practice of cutting the stems below the place where the two leaves meet, this is the reason. They want the stem to grow further.
Basil has plenty of culinary uses, and that is responsible for its high demand across the world. Most species of this fantastic herb do well in outdoor gardens. However, if you follow the above tips, you can grow them indoors without any struggles.
To succeed, ensure you have access to an adequate amount of water and sunlight or artificial light. More importantly, use the best ways to grow basil indoors that we have covered in this comprehensive guide. If you do that, you can boldly start preparing to harvest plenty of fragrant herbs whenever you want.