How To Grow Basil In A Pot?
We will look here at just how easy it is to make this happen as well as examining some of the most common questions people have about this fragrant plant.
Basil: Ocimum Basilicum
Basil is a leafy and aromatic annual plant. It has a rather bushy appearance.
The name basil is derived from basilikohn which is the ancient Greek word for royal. This is fitting since basil has been revered by many cultures over the past centuries. It’s often known as the king of herbs.
Sweet basil is by far the most common type. Although there are more than 60 varieties in total, there are 3 other notable strains. Purple basil is not quite as sweet, lemon basil has a tinge of citrus while Thai basil is infused with licorice.
The leaves are usually round but can develop points. Generally green in color, some also feature a hint of purple or red.
Resembling peppermint, basil is actually part of the same family.
Basil is used extensively in Italian and Asian cuisine. It is probably most famous for its role in pesto to which it adds a delightful kick.
What are the health benefits of basil? Well, it’s known to be an extremely beneficial herb. Vitamin K helps to fight against blood clotting. With just 2 tablespoons of this pungent herb, you can take on board almost one-third of the RDA of this vitamin. Basil also contains vitamins A and C along with many minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Basil is extremely easy to grow but it will only flourish in the summer. It’s extremely sensitive to the cold. For this reason, more and more people want to know how to keep a stock of basil year-round.
We’ll look now at how to grow basil in a pot in 11 easy-to-follow steps…
Growing Basil With Ease
- Get some fresh potting soil. Fill up a 6-inch planter so that the soil is 1 inch from the top.
- Dig a small hole in the center of your soil. Take a sweet basil seedling, place it in the hole and then firm up the soil around it.
- How much water does basil need? This is a tricky one. Basil likes moisture but you must take precautions. Water your seedling very thoroughly but with great care. Remember: basil does not cope particularly well if its leaves or stem get wet. Make certain to water from the bottom and not all over or from above. One handy hint to guarantee protection is to put your pot into a container of water. Simply wait for the moisture to naturally wick through the drainage hole.
- Next, choose a window that gets a good 6 hours of sunshine each day. Set up your planter and basil here. The overall temperature of your room is also key. Strive for 70 degrees Fahrenheit and upwards. Basil simply stops growing properly if it gets much cooler than this.
- When it’s on the window, rotate the plant daily. You need to make sure it gets adequate sunlight on all sides. Keep your plant in the window until the roots have set in and the weather outside is warm enough for it to be moved…
- After 6 weeks, take the center shoot and pinch it off. This will nicely prevent the basil from flowering prematurely. If any rogue flowers grow, simply cut them off.
- When you transplant the basil outside, choose where you put it carefully. Shield it from the wind but ensure that it will get sufficient sunlight. A porch in the direct sunlight is ideal. Use a meat thermometer and test the temperature of the soil. Aim for 70 degrees.
- For the first 3 days, leave the basil outside for 6 hours. Increase the time you put it out by 2 hours every 3 days. After 2 weeks you can leave it unprotected permanently.
- Use a houseplant fertilizer which is water-soluble to feed your basil. You should feed it once a fortnight. Pour it very gently onto the soil which is around the stem. Take care not to get the leaves wet.
- When fall is approaching or there is any chance at all of frost, take your planter back inside to that sunny window you chose. Cool weather can cause damage to the plant while even a hint of frost will kill it outright. Don’t take any chances.
- To harvest the basil simply snip off the leaves at the top of the plant. Weekly trimming will help to increase the bushiness and aids growth.
General Tips For Basil
You’ve seen clearly that growing basil is pretty straightforward. The major factors to consider are getting the temperature and lighting levels right.
Here are some more pointers to help you sidestep the terrible dried version and enjoy fresh and fragrant basil to spice up your meals…
How do I prepare basil?
If you choose to grow basil in a pot then check that it gets enough drainage from the pot’s base. Coarse gravel can be used for lining if necessary.
For those who choose to grow outside, before sowing it’s crucial to dig the soil over effectively. Also, check that there are no weeds present. Moisten the soil the day before you start sowing.
How should I sow my seeds?
As spring comes to an end, so do the frosts. Be patient though. If you are growing basil outdoors then it’s usually advised to hold off on sowing until late March. If you plan to go for a hybrid approach then sow in late February so that you can move your plant outside when the time is right.
Take your time and sow the seed extremely thinly. Cover with quarter of an inch of compost and firm it up.
The seeds should germinate in roughly one week. Once you notice the seedlings sprouting 2 pairs of leaves then it’s time for some pruning. Thin out the weakest of the bunch and keep your pots strong.
What soil should I use for growing basil?
Basil is simple to grow but it demands fertile soil. Dig this very well to promote proper circulation. In the month leading up to sowing, consider putting some manure or organic compost into the soil.
If you have chosen to grow your basil in pots then a general purpose compost is perfect for the job.
Maintenance and care
This is fortunately very easy.
One clear-cut advantage of growing indoors is that you should escape the problem of weeds. Stopping weeds from blighting your crop outside, though, is fairly simple. Just throw some organic mulch around your plants. This should help the soil to retain its moisture and prevent any unwanted outbreak of weeds.
How often should you water basil? As mentioned above, you must ensure that you water it in the right way. Weekly is usually enough although twice a week is better if you are growing indoors.
Pick several leaves from different plants rather than decimating one plant completely. Focus on harvesting the uppermost leaves first.
Basil, the king of herbs, has many uses and is an extremely versatile herb to have fresh and at hand.
If you pay attention to the simple steps above then you can grow your own with ease and confidence indoors or outdoors.
By taking the trouble with watering, you should be presented with no real problems and even a beginner can comfortably grow this unique herb.
Do yourself a favor and sidestep the dried version available in the store. We are what we eat and fresh basil is a far superior option!