Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow basil! And yes, it’s beginner-friendly.
Why grow basil?
Basil is hands-down one of my favorite herbs to grow because nothing says summer quite like freshly picked basil. It adds so much to Italian food, crostini, tomato dishes, even cocktails! But my favorite way to enjoy basil is to make jars and jars of fresh pesto all summer long. I made so much homemade pesto last summer that I froze TONS of jars to enjoy all winter long, which really extended the life of my basil. (You can read my article about how to freeze pesto here.)
Where to grow basil
I grow basil in a raised bed garden, which I highly recommend. You can also grow basil in pots on a patio, which I did very successfully on my college apartment balcony. Wherever you grow basil, make sure it has at least six hours of full sun, good soil, and good drainage.
It should be noted that I grow basil in my vegetable garden instead of my herb garden because I love it as a companion plant with tomatoes. The basil perfumes the tomatoes and it’s just gorgeous! I usually grow six tomato plants each year and four basil plants in a row next to them.
When to grow basil
Basil loves heat! This is definitely a summer herb but in a warm climate like mine (Dallas, Texas), you can start basil in the spring and grow it up until your first frost. Basil is an annual so unlike oregano or rosemary, you’ll need to replant basil each spring. Worth it!
How to grow basil
I have a few tips for growing tons of basil.
- Grow basil in a sunny spot!
- Water once a week, or more during extreme heat. Stick your index finger into the soil up to the first knuckle. If the soil is dry, water.
- Sprinkle an herb/vegetable fertilizer around the plants according to directions a week or two after planting. This will give your plants a boost and a time-release formula will help feed your basil nutrients for months.
- Water with seaweed every 3-4 weeks. I am obsessed with seaweed for my plants! Grab a pac of SeaMagic (available at Amazon), mix with water according to instructions in a giant jug, then add half a cup of that to a 2-gallon watering can every few weeks before watering your roses, vegetables, and herbs. Seaweed is super beneficial for plants and makes your veggies extra sweet and delicious.
- When basil is about a foot high, prune by cutting the top of each stem above a set of two leaves. It’s hard to make yourself do when it isn’t very big yet, but pruning the top will cause the plant to bush out so you get way more basil. Ask my mom, I had more basil than I knew what to do with all summer.
- Get rid of the flowers! I know, it’s hard because they’re quite pretty, but the flowers on a basil plant negatively impact the flavor of the leaves. The flowers will give the leaves a bitter flavor. Just pinch them off as they start to flower. This will also concentrate your plant’s energy into the leaves.