Basil is an extremely versatile and fragrant herb that adds a unique freshness to culinary dishes such as Caprese salad and pesto. Many gardeners plant basil in containers or mixed into their flower beds, but remember that basil is a warm weather plant that needs plenty of sunlight to grow and thrive.
After finding basil plants from a gardening supplier listed in our gardening catalog, you can plant your basil and follow these basic guidelines to watch it flourish.
Plant your basil about 2 weeks after the last frost, leaving enough time for soil to warm up to 50-70 degrees. Basil should be placed in an area that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, considering it thrives with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily, although it can still grow well in partial sun. Ideal soil conditions are moist, nutrient-rich with good drainage, with a 6 or 7 pH. Containers and raised beds allow for better drainage.
Once your basil plants are established, encourage growth by snipping them when they get about 4-6 inches. This will create a bushier plant with more branches for a larger yield. If flowers start growing on your basil plant, simply cut them off and repeat if they grow back.
If a cold front is on the forecast, be sure to harvest your plant beforehand. Because of the warmer weather, basil needs water frequently. If you see signs of your basil plant drooping, that means it’s in need of more watering.
Now that you know the basics of growing and maintain a healthy basil plant, enjoy the fragrant smell and the flavor it brings to many Italian, Mediterranean or Asian dishes.