Growing Basil in Your Own Yard/Pots

Basil is an annual herb that grows easily in warm, sunny weather. Height depends on the variety, with the most common Sweet Basil reaching between three and six feet when mature. Basil plants like full-sun exposure and are traditionally planted along side tomato plants (a convenience when sourcing ingredients for cooking!).

The plants thrive when planted where the daytime temperatures reach at least 70°F; with night temperatures of above 50°F. Plants can be started indoors from seed about a month before the typical last frost of the season. Unlike many Mediterranean herbs, basil likes a rich, moist soil. The plants will become bushy so space them about 10" apart. When the plants reach about 6" in height pinch the tops of the plant so that it will grow bushy with lots of leaves, rather than tall and sparsely leaved (where they will flower and seed). Harvest the leaves as long as there are leaves left on the plant to keep it going, but once the plant goes to seed, the remaining leaves have less flavor.

Basil is very sensitive to cold and when the leaves are touched by frost they will likely turn black and not be useable. You can attempt to extend their life outdoors by covering them if you are expecting frost. Although typically an annual, if you live in a warmer climate you might want to let some of your plants to flowers and self-seed; with luck you'll have new plants next spring.

Aphids (especially when grown indoors), beetles and slugs are the biggest pests when growing basil. Large holes in leaves indicated a pest is feasting away. We have achieved higher success with growing basil plants in pots verses planted in the ground. We found planting in the ground results in all the leaves being eaten (not by us) within days.

Don't have a space outdoors to plant an herb garden? Basil is easy to grow indoors as well. You can even propagate new basil plants from the seeds, seedlings, or cuttings of your outdoor plants. All basil needs to grow indoors is a window with plenty of direct sunlight, warm temperatures, adequate water, and fertilizer monthly. If your basil plant has pale green leaves, it is likely not getting enough nutrients and needs some fertilizer.

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