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Growing Basil

Category Herbs
Growing your own herbs guarantees a fresh supply for your cooking needs. This is a page about growing basil.


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February 10, 2006

Botanical Name:

Ocimum basilicum

Common names:

Sweet Basil, Basil, and Holy Basil


Basil is one of the most widely grown herbs in the world. Originally from India, it is grown for its clove-like smelling, soft green or purple foliage and is often associated with its culinary use in Italian dishes.

Life Cycle:

tender annual


full sun


Start with purchased plants or sow basil seeds directly into the garden early to mid spring. Basil will not tolerate the cold, and transplants should not be planted until they are 4 inches high and danger of all frost has passed. Plant basil in ordinary, well drained soil.



Parts Used:

leaves, clove-like fragrance

Harvesting and Storage:

Harvest leaves fresh for use as needed. If used for culinary purposes, dried basil will not retain its flavor and should be placed between sheets of wax paper and frozen or chopped and frozen with water. To dry basil, hang it upside down in a warm, dark room and store leaves in an airtight container when dry.

Medicinal Uses:

an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory to relieve sore mouths and gums, as part of treatment for malaria, bronchitis and gastric disorders.

Culinary Uses:

Italian cooking; tomato and cheese dishes; salads.

Other Uses:

herbal wreaths, insect repellant, and potpourri.
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September 16, 2011

I have fresh basil up until almost December. I live in the northeast and the garden will soon be going to bed. In mid September, I take cuttings from basil plants and put them in a clear glass dish such as a bread loaf pan.


I fill it with water and cover with aluminum foil. Punch holes in the foil and put your basil cuttings in the holes. Place in a sunny window and soon the cuttings will root. Plant them in pots or I use one long plastic window box. Keep in a sunny window and soon it will grow into a new plant.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

My basil is very short lived. By the time the plants are big enough to harvest a goodly quantity of leaves, the flavor is bitter and the tips are going to flower. When planting, I always cut off the growing tips to encourage bushing out.


I was trying to avoid paying too much for fresh basil in the produce section of the grocery by growing my own, but this isn't working out. This is the third year this is happening.

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Holly from Richardson, TX


June 26, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've been gardening for over 40 years and have never been able to grow basil. I tried a couple of times in my garden and it always went directly into seed. I attempted to pinch the plants back, but they never got very big. I've tried growing basil in pots for years and never got anywhere either. The summers get really hot where I live, and we are often in drought conditions. I watered frequently, but I just couldn't seem to get my basil to grow.


This year, I bought basil plants (a large leaf variety) and set them out (directly in the garden--no pots) early. I watered them with rain water that I'd collected, and they are thriving. I've pruned the plants drastically. So far I've made pesto 4 times. The difference between how my plants are doing now compared to earlier is like day and night. I returned to the store and the only type they had left was cinnamon basil -- a small leaf variety. I've planted it near my other plants, and it is not doing very well. It has not grown much, like my other plantings of the past.

The only difference that I can tell, is the timing of my plantings. Planting early allowed the basil to get well established before the weather even got into the 70s. After so many failures, I'm really enjoying it this year. My point is, I think some plants are extremely sensitive to climate, location, weather conditions, and planting times more than others.

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By Theresa (Guest Post)
June 28, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

My secret is to use a HUGE clay pot (15 gallons?), plant the Italian large leaf variety (I buy at least 6 or more healthy 3 inch pot size plants from a good nursury) , plant it miracle grow potting soil (this is absolutely required!), lots of sun (but partial hot afternoon sun), good watering, pinch back leaves alot, and sing "O solo mio" to it once a week!


Things not to do. I didn't have any luck planting it in a barrel. Be careful with containers, I think it prefers to be in the ground so baby the soil & container. Also, I don't have any luck planting it with other herbs! Plant it all by itself.

The Old Italian Lady,

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June 25, 2007

I consider myself good with plants, and have ZERO luck with Basil. Globe or any other doesn't seem to matter. They get all leggy and I've tried buying them different places, tried larger plants hoping for better luck. No one seems to be able to figure out what I'm doing wrong. What's the secret to good basil? I always plant it alone.

My herbs have to grow inside (garden window) or outside balcony, but I have one in front and one back, one AM sun, one PM sun.

Hardiness Zone: 9-10

MAnne from CA

Growing From Seed

Growing basil from seed is easy. Start it outside in a sunny spot in a good potting mix like Miracle Gro. Basil grows great in containers. Keep it moist and as the delicate seedlings come up, carefully thin them out just a bit.

When you water them, choose an organic seaweed/fish fertilizer diluted in filtered water. Water carefully in the mornings from the bottom and try not to wet the leaves. As they continue to grow bigger, thin them out to about one plant per half a foot. When they are good size, pinch the tops off, an inch or so, to cause the plants to become fuller, not taller.

Growing basil from seed is not difficult and the varieties are amazing and fun to try. My other suggestion is that you try planting basil between your vegetables and flowers rather than all by itself. Good luck to you and hope this helps.

By RoseyQ

Pinch Basil

Definitely pinch it. Basil gets leggy if you don't. Plus, pinching means you get to use it early! Make sure it has lots of sun too.

Successive Plantings

The secret to growing basil and cilantro is to make successive plantings as both plants will go to seed within a short time. Make sure to pinch back the growing tips on a regular basis.

By Holly

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