GardeningHerb Gardening

How To Grow Basil From Seed: A Step-By-Step Guide

Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. In fact, it only takes around six weeks to start seeing flowers appear. This means you can enjoy fresh basil throughout the year.

Growing basil from seed is simple, but requires patience. It is a sweet and slightly spicy herb that is used in a variety of dishes and cuisines.

Follow the steps in this guide to get started growing your own basil.

What Is Basil?

Basil is an annual and tender herb that is generally grown for its aromatic leaves. These leaves can be added into cooked and fresh dishes.

Commonly, gardeners will grow sweet basil for its anise clove flavor. However, there are various types of  basil that you can grow at home, from cinnamon basil, lemon basil and Greek basil.

Each one has its own flavor, aroma, color, and leaf size. It can be grown to be used in cooking, or for you attracting insects and bees to your garden.

There are many benefits to growing basil in your garden. Or you can grow it just as easily in a pot at home.

Why Should You Grow Basil?

As we have established, basil tastes delicious, and it is a great addition to any garden or vegetable garden. It is a really versatile herb, which can be used in a variety of dishes.

Such as soup, pizza, pasta, salad, sandwiches, and pesto to just name a few.

Alongside that, basil is a great choice when it comes to companion planting. Due to its aromatic leaves, basil is known to be able to repress various pests from your garden.

Therefore, by planting various basil plants around your garden, you are not only preventing and controlling the pests from your garden naturally.

However, you can then harvest lots of beautiful smelling and tasty leaves once they are ready to be harvested.

Types Of Basil You Could Grow 

There are lots of different types of basil that you can choose to grow in your garden. All the different varieties have different flavors and will produce different aromas.

Therefore, we recommend planting a couple of different types of basil in your garden, so that you have plenty of choice to choose from when it comes to using the leaves in particular dishes or cuisines.

A lot of people will grow basil to create their own pesto at home, or to be used in a classic tomato sauce. For these dishes, you want to use a sweet basil or Genovese basil.

However, there are a lot of different basil cultivars that may look different from what you would expect basil to look like, but still tastes and smells amazingly.

A few of our favorite basil types that you should try growing in your garden includes the following:

Lemon Basil

Lemon Basil

This is a very common type of basil in southern Asian cooking. It is believed for its lemon flavor.

Purple Ruffle Basil 

Just as the name suggests, this basil plant grows ruffled purple leaves. Yet it still has the traditional basil flavor, but can add a lot of color when used in a salad.

Cinnamon Basil 

This type of basil is quite spicy. There are notes of licorice and cinnamon flavors when you eat this herb.

Thus, this type of basil is ideal when you want to add some depth and warmth to your dish.

Holy Basil

Also known as Tulsi, this is seen as a medicinal herb. This is because it has various medical benefits such as reducing stress and improving cognitive function.

Tulsi is often used in Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogenic herb.

Siam Queen Thai Basil 

This is the ideal basil variety to be used for curries or other Thai dishes.

This basil plant produces beautiful flowers that can be used for ornamental purposes, but pollinators such as bees and butterflies love this plant as well.

Dark Purple Opal Basil  

With this type of basil, the plant will produce the darkest purple leaves. The color of these are so dark that in some lights they can even look black. This plant will look stunning in your garden.

Something to note when it comes to growing purple basil, is that if you grow it from seed, then there is a chance that a couple of the seedlings may look green.

They may also look striped or spotted instead of fully purple in color. This is nothing to worry about.

The lack of purple in some seedlings is because the genetic codes from the purple basil doesn’t always transfer fully into every seed.

Even the green seedlings will taste good, but they just won’t have the desired purple coloring.

Growing Basil From Seeds Or Plants?

The answer to this question depends on how quickly you want basil to be growing and ready to harvest in your garden.

It is quite easy to find Genovese or sweet basil seedlings at any garden center to be planted in your garden straight away.

However, we do recommend that you think about planting a range of different basil plants. This is because they are fantastic pollinators and companion plants.

To be able to grow such a broad range of basil plants, then we suggest purchasing seed packets and growing your basil plants from seeds.

Difficulty Of Growing Basil Plants From Seeds?

Some people may fear that growing basil plants from seeds is difficult. Yet really it isn’t difficult at all. Basil is known for being a fast-growing herb, which is extremely easy to germinate from seed.

If you are new to starting with seeds, then basil is one of the herbs that you should start out with.

Do You Need To Soak Your Basil Seeds Before Planting Them?

With some seeds, you need to soak them before you can think about planting them. It is up to you whether you want to soak your basil seeds.

However, from our experience, we  haven’t seen any improvements in the germination rate by soaking the seeds before planting them.

Therefore, you can soak them before you sow them. However, you don’t have to as it doesn’t make much of a difference.

Time Of Year To Plant Your Basil Plants

Time Of Year To Plant Your Basil Plants

Basil is known as an annual herb, but it doesn’t do well with cold temperatures. This herb really struggles with the cold and doesn’t like frosts.

Hence, you should only plant your basil plants outside after the last frost has passed in your garden.

We would suggest that you should wait around 7 to 10 days after your last frost before transplanting your seedlings into your garden.

We advise this, because then you can be assured that the cold weather has passed and won’t affect your basil plants.

How To Plant Basil Seeds Instructions

To plant basil from seeds is really easy, and you don’t need to be an expert gardener or use specialist tools either.

Step 1

Around 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in your area, you need to prepare the starting trays or pots for your seeds. They should be filled with soil or some kind of sterile seed starting medium.

Step 2

Per every pot or cell in your seed starting seed, sow around 2 to 3 basil seeds. You should plant them around 1/4 of an inch deep into the soil and cover them over with soil.

Step 3

Try to keep the pots or trays warm between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Also keep them moist until germination begins.

Germination will begin after 5 to 7 days after sowing, as long as the ideal conditions have been met.

To keep the warmth, try covering the pots or tray with  a humidity dome or plastic trap. You can then remove this cover once the seeds have germinated.

Step 4

Once each seedling has at least one set of true leaves, then you need to thin the seedlings out. There should be only one seedling per cell in a seed starting tray.

Step 5

After the seedlings have 6 sets of true leaves, you need to pinch the top set of true leaves off. By doing this, you are encouraging the plant to grow stronger and produce a much bushier plant.

Step 6

As the basil plants begin to grow bigger, you can pot them into larger containers. It is important to bury the stems deep into the soil to create a really strong plant.

Growing Basil Plants From Cuttings

You don’t have to grow basil from seeds, you can grow them from cuttings as well.

All you need to do is cut off a stem that is near a leaf node. This is the area where a leaf connects to the main stem of the plant.

In this area, the basil plant has the highest concentration of its rooting hormone. Then, with this cutting, place it in a jug or glass of water.

Then you will need to change the water every other day. After a week, you will start to see roots beginning to produce along the stem of the cutting.

Then, once the roots are robust enough, you can plant this new seeding in a pot or put it straight into your garden.

By growing from a cutting, it is a much quicker process, but you need that first basil plant to begin with to take the cutting from.

This growing method is known as propagation, and is a great way to get the most out of your basil plant. You can easily turn one basil plant into 5 or more plants just by using this method.

Areas To Plant Basil Seeds

When it comes to planting your basil seeds, you need to be aware that basil likes to grow in direct, full sunlight. It also requires well-draining but rich soil as well.

If you want to, you can sow your basil seeds straight into your garden. However, by doing it this way, it will take around 6 to 8 weeks before the plants are ready to be harvested.

It is a good idea to sow basil seeds, in any areas of your garden where there is a gap.

This way once the plants have grown, the basil plant will encourage pollinators to come to your garden, but they also reduce pests as well that will keep your garden protected and safe.

Basil, just like citronella and lemon balm, are great herbs that will naturally repel mosquitos from your garden or yard.

By just gently knocking or brushing up against the basil plant can release the natural oils in the plant into the air and atmosphere. This then keeps pests, including mosquitoes, away.

Time Frame For Growing Basil Plants From Seeds

On average, seedlings will be ready to be planted in the ground within 6 to 8 weeks after sowing.

After they have been planted into the ground, then you won’t have to wait long until the basil plants are ready for their first harvest.

Once your basil plant is in the ground, it will constantly continue to grow and produce leaves for you to harvest.

Therefore, you will continuously harvest your basil plants throughout the year. As long as you remember to give them plenty of water and sunlight.

Typically, your basil plants will continue to produce basil leaves until you experience the first frost of the year. Hence, you have all year to enjoy your own grown basil.

What Can You Plant Alongside Basil

Growing basil in your garden has many benefits due to its pollination, attracting characteristics. Therefore, planting basil plants all around your garden is preferable.

In garden folklore, it is said that when basil and tomato plants are grown together, it improves the flavor of both plants. This is also said to apply to pepper plants as well.

There hasn’t been much research into this claim, but there is no harm in growing these plants together.

This is because basil will happily grow in most areas, and tomato and basil are two flavors and plants that go really well together.

Caring For Your Basil Plants

Caring For Your Basil Plants

Basil is quite an easy plant to care for and look after. The main thing to remember about basil plants is, like any herb, they want to be harvested.

Therefore, the more you harvest the leaves of the plant, then the better and healthier your plant will become.

It will promote the basil plant to produce more leaves and overall the plant will become a lot bushier due to all the new and healthy leaves growing.

In the summer, you should be looking to harvest your basil plant every couple of days. A good tip to get a really bushy basil plant is in summer, to cut the stems every 1 to 2 weeks.

Cut off the top section of the main stem and harvest those leaves. This encourages the plant to grow stronger and much bushier.

Alongside this, when it comes to feeding your basil plant, they don’t require hardly any fertilizer, as long as your soil is rich.

If you notice that your basil plants have a pale green color, then you may want to feed them some fast-acting nutrient fertilizer. However, it isn’t very organized for a home garden.

Also, basil plants like a decent layer of mulch to grow on. This layer of mulch will retain the moisture of the soil and the temperature.

While also, it helps to prevent any weeds from growing in and around the basil plants.

Harvesting Basil

It is really easy to harvest basil. All you need to do is cut off some leaves or stems.

However, don’t wait to harvest your basil plants, the earlier you start the better. As this encourages more leaves to be grown and produces a much healthier plant.

If you do have an excess of basil, then freeze them with olive oil in ice cube trays.

Common Issues And Solutions With Basil

Overall, basil is an easy plant to care for. However, below are a few common issues you could face with these plants and the solutions you need to do.

Aphids 

The most common pest that you are to deal with on your basil plant is aphids. They like the smell of the plants.

Thus, to get rid of them rinse, handpick them off the plants. You could also use neem oil or an insecticidal soap.

Snails And Slugs 

Basil won’t be the first plant these creatures will choose. However, they are known to eat their leaves if that is all that is around.

Like with all plants, there are various ways to prevent snails and slugs eating your basil plants.

Japanese Beetles 

Again, basil is their favorite plant to eat, but they are known to eat their tender leaves.

To get rid of these creatures, you wash them away using a hose or hand pick them off the plant. You can even use neem oil or a pyrethrin-based insecticide.

Growing Bushy Basil Plant Tips

  • Basil plants like full, direct sunlight to be able to thrive and grow really strong.
  • You need to give your plants plenty of time to grow. Start the seeds inside to give them a good chance to germinate. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for the basil to grow.
  • Basil doesn’t like cold temperatures or weather, so you need to keep them warm.
  • When planting basil outside, you need to wait at least 7 to 10 days after your last frost.
  • Harvest your basil plants as much as you can. This will encourage more leaves to be produced, which will then produce a bushier and heather plant.
  • Grow more than one plant and variety of basil. It is easy to grow basil from cuttings, as you have seen above. Also, it will provide your garden with lots of benefits as a companion and pollinator plant.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have gone step by step through the entire process of growing basil plants from seeds and cuttings.

Basil is a beloved herb that is really easy to grow and should be an addition in every garden.

We hope you have enjoyed this article, and it has given you some insights into how to grow basil from seeds. This article has shown you have to grow basil, so that you can enjoy it all year.

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