Start growing your own herb garden if you haven’t already. It’s amazing how fresh chives, oregano, and basil transform the flavor of a dish, and it’s only a few steps away. Learning how to grow basil in a pot is one of the best places to start if you’re interested in container gardening.
Basil is a fragrant herb that pairs well with Italian dishes and is one of the easiest to start growing. Growing basil in a container is either done outside or inside. The benefit of planting basil in pots is that they can quickly move from your windowsill to a sunny spot on your patio.
Although container gardening might seem straightforward, there are some essential steps to follow to have a bountiful harvest and fresh leaves free from diseases. Read through these planting-basil-indoors tips and learn everything you need to know before planting basil in pots.
Types of Basil Plants
There are around 150 different basil varieties. The most common type is sweet basil or Ocimum basilicum. Basil is a close family member to mint and is an annual herb.
It is native to India, and the leaves are used either fresh or dried to flavor meat, fish, sauces, and salads. The leaves are often oval-shaped, smooth, and glossy.
They cup slightly when they mature and sometimes have small clusters of flowers that range from white to magenta.
Sweet basil isn’t the only kind for you to grow. Thai basil, also called anise basil, lemon basil, and Genovese basil, are common varieties people love. Each type’s flavor differs slightly, but they all have a fresh, sweet taste.
How to Grow Basil in a Pot
When learning how to grow basil in containers, there are many factors to consider. Although fresh basil is easy to grow as a houseplant, there are still requirements that must be met. Indoor vegetable and herb growing is easy and satisfying and doesn’t take much time.
If you’re growing basil in a container outside or are planting peppers in pots, there are even more problems to worry about, like serious diseases and pests. If you follow these tips on how to grow basil in a pot, then you’ll soon be adding fresh herbs to your dishes every time you cook.
Planting Basil in Pots from Seeds
Basil seeds are cheaper than purchasing plants at your garden center and only require a little extra time and work. Take care of planting basil seeds indoors and either keep them inside your home or move them outdoors once they become more established.
To sow basil seeds, start the process six to eight weeks before the last frost of spring. Use a small container with drainage holes or an old cardboard egg carton to fill with seed-starting soil. Sow the basil seeds a quarter-inch deep and water them.
How long does it take for basil seeds to sprout? Keep the soil moist, and use grow lights to keep it around 70°F for seven to 14 days before the seedlings emerge. Once the seedlings show themselves, keep them on your windowsill in direct sunlight or under the lights until they reach three or four inches tall.
If using grow lights, turn them off for 8 hours at night and raise the lights when the plants grow taller. Transplant the basil seedlings into individual pots when they have at least three leaves.
The First Step to Growing Basil in a Container
The container is one of the most critical factors for a successful yield. If the pot is too small, the roots become grounded and stunt the basil’s growth. If there aren’t drainage holes, moisture gets trapped and causes problems like root rot.
Any container works as long as you meet a few requirements. Basil likes to have a lot of air circulation, so make sure there is only one basil plant per pot.
Fabric pots are a great starting choice because they come in various sizes, and you don’t have to drill holes in them. Clay pots, terra cotta pots, and glass pots are all excellent alternatives.
Don’t put your basil in black plastic containers if you plan to keep them outside, or the material might overheat the roots.
Find the Right Location
You already know that full sun is best for basil and other herbs, but it is possible to overdo it. Basil requires about six to eight hours of sun per day.
They benefit from afternoon shade in the middle of the growing season, and the later hours of the day get scorching hot.
If you don’t have a lot of space, create an herb and vegetable garden in pots in a sunny window or on a balcony or patio.
Learn what to plant with basil to prevent disease and repel pests, whether you grow basil in the garden or put all your plants in pots.
How to Feed and Water Basil Plants
Most cultivars of basil require identical amounts of water and organic basil plant fertilizer. Keeping the soil moist is essential to the success of your harvest. You want to find a perfect balancing act between too wet and too dry.
Use your pointer finger to feel around the top inch of potting soil. If it feels dry, add water so that the soil is evenly moist but not too soggy. Add average mulch to the top of the container to retain moisture and regulate temperature.
Organic fertilizer is best when container gardening. Be careful! Your potting mix might already have fertilizer in it, and adding more might harden the plant’s growth.
Caring for and Harvesting Basil
Basil isn’t a plant that you can set and forget. If you want large leaves when planting basil in pots, tend to them while they grow.
It’s important to know the best time for harvesting basil. When the seedlings produce at least six leaves, snip all the ones growing below the second set to encourage the plant to start branching and produce more leaves. Whenever a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat the pruning process.
Pinch the center shoot after six weeks to prevent them from flowering early. Cut the flowers off if they grow. It’s safe to start harvesting leaves once the plant reaches six to eight inches tall.
Harvest the leaves during the early morning so that they are at their juiciest. Regularly pick the leaves through the summer to encourage growth. Even if you don’t need the leaves, it’s easy to store and preserve them.
Issues with Basil
When learning how to grow basil in a pot, you might stumble upon concerns with aphids, fusarium wilt, fungal leaf diseases, and powdery mildew. Aphids are easily deterred with a strong stream of water.
Powdery mildew leaves a white dusting on your leaves but is combated with more sun and watering from above to remove spores.
Other fungal leaf diseases might require the use of a pesticide. Make sure you confirm the issue on your plant before spraying any chemical.
Mouthwatering DIY Basil Recipes
If you’re looking for a kitchen hack, adding olive oil and fresh chopped basil to ice cube trays and freezing them into cubes is a great way to preserve your fresh basil.
Although this method is one of our favorites, there are even more flavorful ways to utilize your basil. Pesto makes basil the star ingredient and is delicious served over chicken or turned into a sauce for pasta.
Add the basil leaves, garlic, nuts, and Parmesan to a food processor. Thoroughly season the ingredients with salt and pepper and chop the ingredients a few times.
Prepare your olive oil and turn the food processor on. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until combined. Store the homemade pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Unless you’ve used fresh herbs from an herb garden, you don’t understand the magic they create in transforming a recipe. Growing basil in a container is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to utilize more herbs.
Basil is a bright, sweet plant that will make your loved ones beg you for your secret to all the amazing food you’re going to be cooking.
If learning how to grow basil in a pot helped you start a personal herb garden, share these tips and recipes for basil on Facebook and Pinterest.