How to Grow Basil

Jan 19, 2022
How to grow Basil


Basil is considered the king of herbs, not only in Italy but across the world. The word ‘basil’ comes from the Greek basileus, meaning ‘king’. Even though basil is often associated most closely with Italian cuisine, the plant originates from India. It is part of the family Lamiaceae – the family of mints – and is an annual herbaceous plant that will grow to a height of around 50cm.

The best time to plant basil is in midsummer – I often get the best results when planting basil seeds at this time.

Whether you’re keen to learn more about growing basil from seed, discover tips on how to pick basil, or simply gauge how often to water basil, let this mini basil growing guide answer all your questions.

What does basil look like? When it’s grown well – like lush, green, oh-so-tasty-looking leaves. 

Guide on how to plant Basil

  1. The easiest way to get started is to buy seedlings from your local nursery.

  2. Plant basil seedlings in rich, well-drained soil in full sun.

  3. Propagate from seed in seedling trays in early spring, or sow directly into the patch in summer.

  4. Water and fertilise regularly and apply seaweed extract.

  5. If you have limited space, growing basil in pots or containers is a great idea, too.

TIP: Growing basil from cuttings is quite simple. Simply cut about a 3-4 inch stem of new growth above two leaf nodes, remove lower leaves on the stem then place the cutting in a dish of fresh water on your windowsill to sit for around one week. Let the roots continue to grow before replanting in soil. You’ll be teaching all your mates how to grow basil from cuttings in no time. 

Stumped on how to grow basil from seed? Good news is, it’s actually a cinch! Basil likes to grow in rich, well-drained soil in full sun.

Basil Plant Care 101

How much water does Basil need?

Determining how often to water basil might depend on the season. You should water every second day during the growing season, always checking the soil to make sure it isn’t getting too dry or too wet. Don’t be surprised if you need to water every day on really hot summer days.

When do I mulch?

Mulch around the base of the basil plant once it is established. This is essential for basil plant care as it will help the soil retain moisture and stop weeds from competing for nutrients.


Organic or slow-release fertilisers such as compost or worm tea are best for basil. The plant will also enjoy a regular dose of seaweed extract. But ease into it – don’t apply too much fertiliser, as you may burn the plants and in turn attract pests.

How to prune Basil

Pinching out flower heads as they appear will ensure continued leaf growth and help to prolong the harvest.

Pruning your basil plant will ensure continued growth – and you can also use the basil cuttings to grow basil indoors.

Basil growing conditions: Pests & problems

Snails and slugs love young basil seedlings. Other problems include damping off, black spot and downy mildew. Remove and dispose of affected leaves and spray with a fungicide treatment.


Basil plants are self-pollinating. Let your basil plants flower and the bees will just love them, then let the plants go to seed and collect the seed heads: It’s win-win for the patch.

How to Harvest Basil

Pinch out the tops of the stems when you harvest basil – this forces the plant to shoot new growth from the lower leaf buds, making the plant bushier.


Use basil leaves fresh or if you wish you can dry them. You can also freeze the leaves to use at a later date: Wash the leaves and dry them completely before layering them in a freezer bag. Or if you prefer, puree the leaves in a food processor with good-quality olive oil to make a smooth paste, then freeze the mixture in ice-cube trays.

Different types of Basil

From growing Thai basil to growing purple basil in pots, there are loads of ways to enjoy this delicious herb. Some varieties include Genovese basil, lemon basil, lime basil, sweet basil and cinnamon basil


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