How to Grow Unlimited Basil at Home

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Basil plant in a pot

You can grow basil from seeds or simply by purchasing a basil pot from a store or nursery. You can take cuttings and dip them in water to root them hydroponically. You can continue to grow the basil hydroponically or put them in a soil for them to grow quickly. Basils are mostly perennial varieties and you can grow them outdoors if the conditions are favorable, or grow them indoors under a grow light.

 

To grow basil, use a well-draining moisture retaining soil mix, and keep the soil moist, maintain a temperature between 50°F to 90°F (10°C to 32°C) and about 4 hours of light per day. Feed with a handful of nitrogen-rich organic compost every 2 to 4 weeks.

 

You can grow basil as a companion crop with plants that grow tall like indeterminate varieties of tomato. It does not compete much with the tomato and acts as a productive mulch for tomato plants.

Basil General Information

Origin

tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia

Common Names

Tulsi (Holy Basil), Sabja, great basil

🌵Type

Culinary herb

🌵Climate

tropical

🌡️Temperature

50°F to 80°F (10°C to 26°C)

💧Watering

Water when topsoil starts to dry, keep the soil moist at all times.

☀️Light

Part Sun / Full Sun.

At least 4 hours of sunlight

Soil

Well draining and slightly moist soil

(sand + compost + coco peat + perlite)

Fertilizer

nitrogen-rich organic compost once a month

Pot Size

8 inch

Spacing

Plant basil plants 10 inches apart

Propagation🌱

Cuttings in water, cuttings in soil, seed

Height📏

1 to 3 feet

Grow from Cuttings

  1. Cut a 4 inch long stem of the Basil plant, just below a node. The roots will develop from the entire stem that is under water, with most roots coming from the node.
  2. Remove any leaves at the bottom of the cutting
  3. Place the cutting in water.
  4. Put the container under grow lights, and place a heated mat underneath if you have one.
  5. After 20 to 25 days, you will see larger, greener leaves with a good root system. You can either harvest the top and encourage new growth, or transfer the plant into a new pot with soil.

Grow from Seeds

  1. Sow the seeds directly in the container where they will grow instead of using seed trays.
  2. Add a ¼ inch fine layer of potting mix. Do not sow the seeds too deep.
  3. Press it down lightly, firm the potting mix with the palm of your hand to create a smooth, even surface.
  4. Water the potting mix until it feels wet at a depth of 1 inch.
  5. Place the container in a partial shade for 10 days and keep the potting mix moist all the time while the Basil seeds germinate.
  6. Seeds will germinate in 7 days. If you are growing indoors, this is the time to switch on the grow lights.
  7. After 20 to 25 days, you will see larger, greener leaves with a good root system. After 40 days, the plant is completely mature and ready to harvest so it grows more and gives you more basil.

 

How fast does Basil grow

Basil grows fairly quickly if given the right growing conditions. With just 20 days of growing basil, you can expect a root system with greener leaves and the plant reaches a thrice its height in just 40 days.

 

Here is a table that explains the rate of growth for Basil that you can expect:

 

Event

No. of Days

Hydroponic Root formation 

20 days

Triple size (x3)

40 days

Pick a Variety of Basil

Here are the most popular varieties of Basil that you can find and grow.

 

Basil Variety

Features

Sweet Basil (Genovese basil)

Most popular and common. Grown as an annual, less hardy and great for making pesto.

Tulsi, Holy Basil or Hot basil

Native to the Indian subcontinent, it has purple flowers and leaves are peppery in taste and is claimed to have many health benefits.

Thai basil

A perennial that can be grown all year round in warmer climates. Gorgeou

Lemon basil

Strong grower and long lasting variety with an excellent smell and taste for mediterranean and asian cooking

Aristotle basile

A compact variety of basil which is also an ornamental and easy to grow indoors on window sills as it is compact.

Purple varieties

Adds a splash of color to dips and foods. These varieties are also rich in antioxidants for helping the body to fight off carcinogens that can cause cancer or aging.

African Blue Basil

Delicious leaves with beautiful purple flowers.

Water💧

Basil is a thirsty crop and it will go limp very soon if not watered properly. Water your Basil plant when the topsoil is about to get dry, and do not let the soil dry out between waterings.

 

If you are underwatering, the basil plants are drought tolerant as well. The leaves will droop and as soon as you give the plant water, the leaves will come back to life almost every time. If you overwater, basil won’t take that well. The leaves will start to get yellow, and fall off. So it’s better to be on the side of underwatering, than overwatering when it comes to basil (or almost any plant for that matter).


 

If you live in a hot, dry, desert, arid or tropical climate, you will need to water Basil plants every day or even more than once to make sure the soil does not get too dry under full sun and keep the soil slightly moist in such climates. Beware not to overwater in an attempt to keep the soil moist as it will kill the plant.

Sunlight☀️

Basil does not need that much sun to do well. Basil needs about 4 hours of sunlight per day. However, lack of sunlight will make the basil plants leggy and they won’t put out as many leaves. 

 

If you live in a hot, dry, desert, arid or tropical climate, place the Basil in a location that receives shade from the afternoon sun.

Ideal Growing Temperature🌡️

Basil is a warm temperature crop. Ideal growing temperature for Basil is between 50°F to 90°F (10°C to 32°C). Since basil is found in tropical climates, it does really well in hot weather but suffers in cold climates. You can maintain the temperature by growing indoors during the winter season if you live in a climate where temperatures go below 50 during winter.

Soil

Basil needs a rich soil that is slightly moist all the time, and can hold on to water and nutrients while being well draining as well. So opt for a soil that is rich in organic compost, peat and perlite. One recommended soil mix is sand + compost + coco peat + perlite.

 

Cover the soil with mulch (dead leaves, coco peat, or wood chips) to hold the soil moisture, soil temperature cool and avoid heating of exposed soil by the sun.

Fertilizer

You will need reasonably fertile soil from the start as basil is grown from its foliage and high-nitrogen content is needed to grow. You can use any nitrogen rich fertilizer like cow manure and repeat the application once a month.

Pruning and Harvesting

Basil tends to grow tall and leggy (3-4 foot tall) and they don’t branch that much. In order to get a bushier basil with a bigger harvest, pruning is necessary. When you prune, basil will branch out and give better yields.

 

Prune the top growth so the basil plant will grow horizontally and bushier as compared to the natural vertical and leggy growth. Use the pruned top as a harvest and keep it in water to propagate more basil hydroponically.

 

You may also wish to prune the flowers to try to keep the leaves flavorful and growing instead of producing seeds. Pruning the top growth will promote more growth.

Basil Flowers

There will come a time when your basil plant will give up producing plump fragrant leaves and going to seed-making mode. You cannot prevent this even if you prune the flowers. If basil is flowering, it is not a bad thing - let it grow out. Basil flowers are powerful insect-pollinator attractors which helps your garden overall and creates a great bug habitat.

Pests and Diseases🐛🦠

Aphids, Japanese beetles, powdery mildew and downy mildew. You can easily get rid of these pests and diseases.

 

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