Five Tips for Basil Plant Care

Do you love the taste of the basil plant and want to learn how to care for it so you can grow it in your own garden? Well, we have some good news for you: it's quite easy! Learn more about it in this article.
Five Tips for Basil Plant Care

Last update: 23 August, 2021

Basil is an aromatic herbaceous plant native to Asia. It’s now spread all over the world and is popular in the cuisine of many countries like the Mediterranean region, for example, due to its flavor. Today’s article contains some tips to properly care for this herb.

This plant has a wonderful flavor but also multiple medicinal properties that promote digestion, soothe certain types of pain, and helps accelerate the skin healing process.

Planting some basil bushes at home will allow you to have this delicious plant at hand to quickly include it in dishes such as pesto sauce, aromatic infusions, salads, green smoothies, and even ice cream. Additionally, it’ll help you keep mosquitoes away!

Watering the basil plant

In general, the basil plant needs regular watering to grow properly. However, its soil must have good drainage so make sure the pot has holes in the bottom.

In addition, watering depends on climatic conditions. Thus, you might have to water it every day in small amounts in warm climates. Water it every other day during cooler temperatures.

Pruning a basil plant

Like most plants, you must regularly remove weeds and dead leaves from basil. In addition, it’s necessary to cut some stems to promote a longer leafy growth. Trim below the flower bud to delay flowering.

The main reason for pruning the plant in this way is it’s an annual herb. What this means is it dries up and withers after it blooms. You can collect the seeds to continue to maintain the crop. Prune every three to four weeks.

A close-up of a plant.
The basil plant needs watering and proper drainage. Pruning is also necessary to keep it longer.

General care for the basil plant

The scientific name of basil is Ocimum basilicum L and there are many varieties. The most popular are Greek basil (Ocimum basilicum minimum), purple basil (Ocimum basilicum purpurascens), Genovese basil (Ocimum basilicum Genovese), fine basil (Ocimum minimum), cinnamon basil (Ocimum basilicum Cinnamon), and lemon basil (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum).

You need to have a pot or area in the garden to plant it after choosing the variety you want to grow in your garden. You can either buy the seeds or the seedling.

1. Ensure adequate soil for growth

A publication of Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro de Mexico points out that the ideal soil for growing basil should be light and permeable, and have good drainage because stagnation kills it. Mix the soil with some sand to ensure drainage. Also, the soil must have a pH between 4.3 and 8.2.

2. Provide it with nutrients to promote its growth

The basil plant needs soil that’s rich in organic matter. Thus, add this type of material before sowing.

In addition, worm castings are great good for basil. You must fertilize it this way every 20 days, in small quantities.

3. Proper placement

The basil plant needs constant sunlight for healthy development. However, it’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments. In fact, it can even thrive best in a semi-shaded environment.

4. Ensure an ideal temperature

Basil plants require a temperature between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit for proper growth. Thus, keep it indoors you live in a very cold area. In addition, it doesn’t need a large pot to grow properly.

5. Take advantage of the seeds

Basil plant is an annual plant so you should reproduce it by using its seeds. To do so, just wait until the flowers turn brown and dry out.

You must cut them to extract the small black seeds hidden inside the flower. Then, store them in a glass jar and allow them to dry entirely.

Basil plant lovers

Indeed, basil plants usually keep mosquitoes away but also other basil-eating bugs. In addition, certain environmental conditions can be harsh on it and lead to withering.

Continue reading to find out the circumstances to avoid to help a basil plant thrive.

Aphids

These are common pests that weaken plants because they feed on the sap. You can identify them by the holes they make in the stems and leaves.

In addition, they excrete a sweet liquid that attracts ants. However, a spray with onion and garlic can help you keep them at bay.

Thrips

These are tiny black bugs that infiltrate the leaves, flowers, and folds of the plant to eat its nutrients. You can identify them by the appearance of small spots.

One way to prevent them is to spray the leaves — they don’t like water. However, it’s better to use rainwater because tap water often contains chlorine. Also, don’t spray them under direct strong sunlight as it’ll burn the leaves.

Slugs

Snails and slugs love many plants in the garden and basil is no exception so prevent their appearance.

You can identify them by the holes they make on the leaves. Also, their slime usually leaves a whitish, shiny spot behind.

A leaf with pests.
Aphids leave holes in leaves because they eat them. They must be identified quickly to protect the crop.

Too much sun

Basil needs moisture to grow well. Consequently, it tends to burn and wilt when it receives too much sunlight. Thus, keep it hydrated and partly in the shade.

Frosts and winds

The basil plant doesn’t tolerate low temperatures; therefore, frosts usually kill it. As you can imagine, it won’t survive winter outdoors so early spring is the best time to plant it.

The basil plant is pet-safe

People with pets often wonder about the safety of ornamental or vegetable garden plants before purchasing them for their homes. The good news is basil is safe for dogs and cats.

Now that you know about the care of a basil plant and its safety with pets, it’s important to keep it out of the reach of animals because its scent might attract them and they’ll probably damage it. It’ll also keep them from marking it as part of their territory.