Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Basil

Basil Herb


Rate this Article: 

Average: 4 (387 votes)

Basil is a leafy, fragrant annual herb with a bushy appearance. Here’ s how to grow basil in your garden—or kitchen!

The most common type of basil is sweet basil; other types include purple basil (less sweet than common basil), Lemon basil (lemon flavor), and Thai basil (licorice flavor). Basil is easy to grow and works well in Italian dishes, but it only grows outdoors in the summer, so plan accordingly.


  • To get a head start, start the seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last spring frost. (See local frost dates.)
  • Ensure your outdoor site gets 6 to 8 hours of full Sun daily; soil should be moist and well-drained.
  • After the last frost date, plant the seeds/seedlings in the ground about ¼-inch deep. The soil should be around 70ºF for best growth.
  • Plant the seeds/seedlings about 10 to 12 inches apart. They should grow to about 12 to 24 inches in height. For smaller plants, plant farther apart (about 16 to 24 inches).
  • During the dry periods in summer, water the plants freely.
  • Remember to pinch out the flower heads as soon as they appear to make sure that the leaves will continue growing.
  • If you’re planning on cooking with these plants, plant in clean soil (don’t use fertilizers that leave harmful residues) and grow them away from driveways and busy streets so that exhaust won’t settle on the plants.
  • Tomatoes make great neighbors for basil plants in the garden.


  • Make sure that the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around the basil plants (the mulch will help keep the soil moist).
  • Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
  • After 6 weeks, pinch off the center shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off.
  • If the weather is going to be cold, be sure to harvest your basil beforehand, as the cold weather will destroy your plants.


  • Aphids
  • Variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases


  • After the seedlings have their first six leaves, prune to above the second set.
  • Every time a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves.
  • The best time to harvest is right when the plant starts to bud (before the flowers bloom).
  • Basil is most pungent when it is fresh.
  • If pruned regularly, twelve basil plants will produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week.
  • The best method for storing basil is freezing. Freezing will prevent the plant from losing any of its flavor. To quick-freeze basil, dry whole sprigs of basil and package them in airtight plastic bags.
  • Another storage method is drying the basil (although some of the flavor will be lost). Pinch off the leaves at the stem and place them in a well-ventilated and shady area. After 3 to 4 days, if the plants are not completely dry, place them in the oven on the lowest heat setting with the door slightly open. Remember to turn the leaves (for equal drying) and check them frequently.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

Where salt is good, so is basil. –Italian saying

For other greens to use in your cuisine, see the Leafy Greens: Health Benefits page.


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

first time taing care of a itailn basil

I had recently purchased a basil plant a cople of days ago at my local Farmer's Market and the plant is getting tall. I live in Southeastern Nebraska. Should I grow it indoors or would be allright outdoors? I have a garden and I am thinking of planting in my garden. I have currently rn out of the soil that helps veggies and flowers grow well and strong but I do have miracle grow and the dirt I have in the garden is brown dirt that my mom has told me wors well and it has formy surgar snap peas and flowers. Iwas told to keep the plant in its cup for a few days and today I need to move it. For me should I plant it indoors or outside?


You can transplant your basil plant outdoors when temperatures are in the 70s in the day and above 50 at night. This annual likes warm temperatures. Choose a sunny spot that gets about 6 to 8 hours of sun. It likes rich, moist, well-drained soil. A mulch, such as shredded leaves or untreated grass clippings or straw, can help to keep soil moist between waterings. Miracle-Gro fertilizer can help give your plant nutrients if your soil lacks them, but will not help with drainage or other issues, if there are any. Certainly worth a try!

hi, I'm doing an experiment

hi, I'm doing an experiment on basil seedlings at school and I am looking at the growth rate. if you could help me out on average how many cm do basil seeds grow per day?

Brown spots

Hi! Just transplanted a already growing basil plant to a bigger container on my balcony! It has been growing fine from what I can tell but my leaves have brown spots on them!

brown spots

Brown spots on basil can indicate a variety of issues. Avoid watering basil leaves from overhead; only water at the soil level and don’t let water or soil splash on leaves. 


Hi, I planted some seeds several weeks ago. They have sprouted quickly, but are not producing their first set of true leaves. It has been at least 3 weeks since they sprouted. Any advice? Do they need fertilizer?

Basil Seedlings

Initial basil growth can be slow, but to help yours along as much as possible, make sure that they’re getting enough light (full sun, 6–8 hours a day), enough water, and that temperatures aren’t dropping below 50°F. If those factors are under control, you may add just a bit of a 10-10-10 fertilizer, following instructions on the packaging.

Basil used in Pizza

Does anyone know which basil is used in pizza? I have grown different basil over the years trying to find that flavor. Years ago we bought some basil leaf spice from the store it made the food taste like eating pizza, the store stopped making it. At first we bought basil spices from different companies not one them have the pizza taste.

Basil for Pizza

Yum. Basil and pizza.  A lot of readers use a Spicy Globe variety of basil, but others prefer a Sweet Basil. It has the flavor most associated with Italian cooking, similar to ‘Genovese’ or ‘Classico’ used on Margherita pizzas in Italy. See more about basil varieties here:

Hi there. I'm in

Hi there. I'm in Southwestern Michigan. I'm thinking of starting my first garden in the Spring.
The previous owners of this house had a dog that pooped in an area in my bag yard. It's been two years since the dog owners lived here. So, would it now be safe to use that area for part of my garden? Or would it not be a good idea since some bacteria or whatever from the dog poop might still be there? Also, what kind of cover plants could I use to prepare the ground for Spring garden planting?

Basil plant

Got some knowledge of the plant, it's use, planting and how to take care. Thanks.

I have gotten some knowledge

I have gotten some knowledge of the plant and still haven't found an answer to my questions. But thanks for your input anyway.

survivial over winter

will basil plants survive winter and grow the following year ?

Growing Basil Through Winter

Basil is one of those herbs that won’t make it through the winter. It likes warm temperatures and heat.

Some people try growing basil in pots indoors, but that is challenging, too, because basil likes indoor temperatures in the 70s day and night.

It’s best to harvest the basil and freeze it for year-round use! See our article on preserving herbs.


Why is there a yellow vine growing on my basil?

vines on basil plant

I sure wish someone would answer this one! I've grown basil for years & never saw this before.. but now have 1 (potted) that has a mass of these .. my daughter says its a "female" plant & that I should re-plant the whole thing (?) When I first saw them, I tried picking them off, but they just kept coming back.. I can't see that they're growing from anything separate, so wonder if she's right?

Dodder on Basil

It sounds like dodder, a parasitic weed that feeds off nutrients meant for your basil. Remove it as well as the portion of basil to which it is attached. Unfortunately, is very persistent. If it has flowered and gone to seed, you may be fighting it for a few seasons.

Purple basil

My purple basil plants leaves keep falling off. It's get tall with leaves at the top and not getting full. What can I do to help it?

Top of Column for Top of Basil

Hi, Juuls: Please read the sections above about Care and Harvest/Storage. Once (and every time) your basil gets to 6 sets of leaves, harvest and then cut it back so that only 2 sets of leaves remain. Also, pinch off any flowers that may appear at any time. This will help the plant to focus its energy on leaf production, rather than stem growth. Good luck!

Basil from nursery


I Bought Bonnie's sweet basil from the nursery today and planted them in a rectangular container. There are 3 plants, and I am now questioning whether or not I need to space them out or not. They have blossomed somewhat. I was actually thinking of planting them closer but wasn't sure if it would be an issue.


Did you read the plant tag? Most nursery plants “come with” a tag or “stick” that describes basic care, and that often includes spacing. Spacing might vary a bit depending on the type of plant (basil or anything else).

As indicated at the top of this page, thriving plants can grow to a foot or two in height and have proportionate foliage spread. The distance between plants should be 10 to 12 inches. Only you know the distance between them now and whether that is suitable. (Remember that replanting will add stress: The plants will go through a period of adjustment during which they will probably look a bit limp. Consider that they may not all survive a move. They may all survive…just be prepared.)


basil and animals

I have wanted to grow basil and other herbs in my front yard in place of grass and I have dogs and want to know if it is safe? I've been told that their "poop" can get on it and cause Salmonella. Is this true?

herb gardens and dogs

Dog poop can contain bacteria and parasites (it is not recommended as a fertilizer for edible gardens because of this). It’s best to prevent your dogs from going near your garden (such as by fencing it off, using row covers, or planting in high raised beds), but if they do, be sure to wash the herbs thoroughly before using. Also, it’s good to check what herbs are safe for your dogs, in case they get curious and want to nibble. Basil is said to be non-toxic (unless your pet has allergies). For a list of plants, see:

basil seeds

i did not properly store the basil seeds i harvested. they have been kept dry, but were stored in loosely sealed paper cups and have been exposed to indoor light since i harvested last fall. are they still viable?

viable seeds?

You can only tell by trying, jk. Get some new ones and start them, too. If they all come up—well, can’t have too much basil, can you? (If you do, make and freeze pesto.)


My seedlings range from just 2 to 4 inches in height (not 6 yet). But some do have 6 leaves or more. Should I prune them? Also, do I prune from the top or bottom?

pruning basil

You might want to wait until they are about 6 inches high, then remove the top few leaves until there are just one set (2 leaves) on that stem (prune back to a set of leaves just above where a stem forks). Note that this does not apply to bush basil (such as ‘Spicy Globe’), which have much tinier leaves and many more along the same length of stem. Prune these back to keep their shape, leaving at least 3 or so sets of leaves. For both types of basil, always prune out any developing flower buds.

basil planting

Can I start basil by seeding indoors in a plant with some dirt?

seeding basil

Kathy, you can start baseil by seeding it indoors. Don’t use dirt from outside—you know, the ground. That’s too heavy for seedlings to push through. Get seed starting medium—it’s “soiless,” at a gardening supply store or nursery. You might even ask at a grocery; sometimes they carry this at this time of year. Follow the directions on the bag.

I live in Cairo, Egypt. I

I live in Cairo, Egypt. I want to grow basil but the balcony I want to put the plant in does not get sun but not summer it's usually hot. The other balcony gets too much sun. I tried growing Basil in it years ago and it died. Please advice what to do

Basil plants certainly

Basil plants certainly appreciate all the sun you can give them. As long as your plants are getting several hours daily, they should reward you with lots of healthy foliage. If they get enough sun but still appear discoloured, they may be in a place that is too hot or too dry. I remedy this by growing my plants inside on a sunny window where they get plenty of sun but are protected from the tropical heat. You could also try increasing your watering regimen.

basil local name

Pls can I know the local name for basil e.g the Yoruba name because everyone around me says they don't know basil and m defending it on Monday.sum said it is efirin BT sum said efirin is scent leaves pls help me out.thnks

After I harvest the leaves,

After I harvest the leaves, will the plant (roots) survive in the ground for the winter, or do I have to dig it up?

Basil is a frost tender plant

Basil is a frost tender plant so any cold weather will kill it. You can try digging up the plant to grow indoors. Be sure to cut it back to a manageable size and put it in a sunny location to stimulate new growth. You might have greater success starting new plants from seed to grow inside. I also have had stem cuttings of basil root in a glass of water. Pot them up as soon as the roots get to be about 1/2 inch long.

Hi. Iam from India, Nagpur

Hi. Iam from India, Nagpur city. I want to grow Basil seeds. Wondering when is the right season to do that. Summers are 45-48degree Celsius and monsoon are 30-35degree Celsius. Winters go around 27-28degree Celsius and night temp drops upto 6-8 degrees celsius.. Please help..

I usually grow basil in a

I usually grow basil in a large pot on my deck. However, I will be going out of town in early June for about 9-10 days. Should I wait until I get back to purchase a plant, or would it survive during that time? I live in zone 6.

If you can't get a friend or

If you can't get a friend or neighbor to water your basil while you are away, you might want to wait until you return to buy one. There are also methods that help to keep pots watered, such as self-watering planters, but depending on the equipment you use, it is possible that your plant would run out of water before you could return, especially if the plant was in the sun.

"Plant the seeds/seedlings

"Plant the seeds/seedlings about 10 to 12 inches apart. They should grow to about 12 to 24 inches in height. For smaller plants, plant farther apart (about 16 to 24 inches)."

Why would increased spacing result in "smaller" plants?

You can grow basil from seed

You can grow basil from seed (into seedlings) or transplants (which you often buy in a garden center).

I wondered the same thing and

I wondered the same thing and then thought about how trees in a crowd are usually tall and skinny, versus how single trees are shorter and bushier. I think by "smaller," they meant shorter. More space means less competition for light, so a shorter (but maybe bushier) plant. That's what makes sense to me anyway :)

They aren't sayin that

They aren't sayin that planting them further apart results in smaller plants. They are saying that if the plants are smaller when you plant them, then you should plant them further apart to allow room for growth

I placed my basil leaf in

I placed my basil leaf in direct sunlight for about four hours, when I got back it looked very sad and was beginning to wilt!! What do I do?

Give the basil a good dose of

Give the basil a good dose of water near the base of the plant so that it soaks into the soil--don't wet the foliage.

I recently acquired a basil

I recently acquired a basil plant here in California and planted it as quickly as i could not knowing that I had to wait until summer(right now it is Spring). At first the plant was growing well but after a while i noticed that some of the leaves started getting transparent spots on them and i think it has a disease but i don't know which one> What should i do to make the plant grow healthier and how do i get rid of this disease?

Basil likes at least 6 hours

Basil likes at least 6 hours of sunlight, and temperatures of about 70F in the day and at least 50F at night. If your area has been experiencing colder temperatures, it could be that your basil has cold or frost damage. It may also be sunscald, which can occur when sunlight is too intense on tender vegetation, especially wet leaves. This may happen if the basil was not hardened off before transplanting outside in the cooler temperatures. To harden off, you'd put the plant out in a sheltered area for an hour or two one day, increase the amount of time a bit the next day, and so on, as well as later moving it to positions closer to the full-sunlight conditions of its permanent home to-be; do this for about 10 days. Without hardening off, your plant is more susceptible to sunscald and other cultural problems. If you think it might be sunscald, cover the plant in a row cover material or shade cloth for a few days to see if the reduced sunlight might be helping it to recover. If you think it is a disease, you might want to remove the affected leaves (unless it would strip off too many), and monitor the plant.
Sunscald can appear as paper thin silver to pale brown spots on leaves (or fruit). Here is a photo of sunscald on a greenhouse basil plant (I don't think the pink color in this photo is usual):
If you think that it is a disease, you might check out this page:
Some insects can also cause papery thin spots or tiny holes when they feed, such as sawflies, flea beetles, or leafhoppers.

I have a sweet basil plant

I have a sweet basil plant and it's doing well. Each time I see it begin to flower I cut the blossoms off. If I dry the blossoms and plant them is a moist soil, will they reproduce a new plant?

Hi Bill, You need to leave

Hi Bill,
You need to leave the flowers on the plant until they turn brown. If you look at the underside of the fading flower, you'll be able to see the developing basil seeds as small black dots.

I am from Nepal, a himalayan

I am from Nepal, a himalayan country. I want to grow more basil plant. so which type of plant is suitable and if more grows is it possible to export foreign country like Europe and Amerika?

Hello, I dream of going to

Hello, I dream of going to Nepal..:) Anywho, i am not sure of basil growing in nepal. but if you or a friend find yourself in europe or america, you can just buy there and bring it home to lovely nepal :) I did that once with a poppy flower because it not grow in my country. or most plantshops sell potted plants although sometimes cash plenty... expensive :( good luck!!!! :DDDDDDDD

Hi Mani, please contact me on

Hi Mani, please contact me on have different seeds from last year, simple sweet basil but also others like tulsi, which you probably know.I will send them to you in exchange for the pictures of the plants.
Other emails to this address will be ignored!!!

Hello - We live in SoCal and

Hello -

We live in SoCal and received a basil plant for Christmas. Are we able to plant it outdoors right now, or should we keep it indoors until spring and provide it plenty of light?


Basil is a tender annual and

Basil is a tender annual and is best planted outdoors in spring. Keep the plant in a sunny location indoors until you are ready to transplant it outdoors.

I planted Thai Basil for the

I planted Thai Basil for the first time this past summer in a raised container. They went crazy and attracted more honey bees than I thought existed! Next summer we would like to try beekeeping and I am wondering if anyone has had success specifically using Thai Basil as their source off pollin. I would like to protect the basil as much as possible through the winter (colorado) and am looking for recommendations.

Since basil is a tender

Since basil is a tender annual, it will not survive wintery climates. However, you could bring your basil inside for the winter if you can provide plenty of bright light. You may need to put them under an artificial light 10 to 12 hours per day. As annuals, basil plants will flower and die eventually, even indoors. You'll want to start or buy new plants each spring.

Is it possible to save the

Is it possible to save the basil root ball for next growing season? If so, what is the process? I'm reading conflicting things about it being an annual or not. Thanks for any help anyone can offer me.

Some readers have had luck

Some readers have had luck overwintering a basil plant indoors. Rember that basil loves warm weather and lots of light. It helps to have flourescent lights. It may be easier to take a few cuttings from your outside plant at put them in water. After a couple of weeks you'll see new roots on the stems and you can plant the cuttings in pots. Keep the pots in your sunniest window.

Hello! I had my Basil growing


I had my Basil growing outside, but I finally brought it in the house, because the animals were eating the Basil and one of them broke the stem. It's not broken completely. How do I fix it and how do I keep it growing during the winter?

You might try gently securing

You might try gently securing the top and bottom stem together with florist's tape, or electrical tape. After doing that, you might also attach a small splint, such as a twig, to the area (again, using stretchy tape). Basil can take pruning, so depending on where the break is and whether diseases or insects got to the injury, your plant might recover. Give it a warm spot inside, where it gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight; water when soil is dry down to an inch deep. Set the pot on a tray with pebbles and fill the tray with water to just cover the pebbles--this will provide some humidity. Pinch off any developing flowers, to prolong the plant's life. Basil is a tender annual, but some people have had success overwintering it (search for "winter" on this page to see various tips and comments).

Use paraffin wax, as it will

Use paraffin wax, as it will fall off as the plant grows and heals. Paraffin will naturally biodegrade. Tape and twin may inhibit the plants growth.

My basil has blossoms now .

My basil has blossoms now . Wasn't able to harvest it before now. Is it still usable even though it has well developed blossoms?

In terms of taste, it is

In terms of taste, it is important to prune the plant periodically. Once basil blossoms, it becomes woody and the quality of the taste is affected with more bitter flavors arising. The flowers have pretty blooms though, so if your plants flower, create a bouquet.

I have had the different

I have had the different times that basil flowered, and the flowers are just as tasty as the leaves. The flavor may be slightly milder, but not as much as when it's dried. I think I actually liked the cinnamon basil flowers better. You just need to chop it up finely (or blend it into a pesto)

I have grown basil for many

I have grown basil for many years and have never seen what I am about to describe. First of all, there are a few plants in one small store bought pot kept on my table outside in Fl. Today I noticed that the stems were covered in what I thought were aphids but when I ran my fingers over them they didn't squoosh like insects do. The small "things" covering the stems, like an infestation, were very hard. I scraped them with my nail and they came off and I could really smell the basil. The "things" did not move at all and there are no ants present that could be harvesting the "things". It almost looks like the stems are putting out tiny roots that are harder than the stems. These hard "things" are present all over every stem and seem to have appeared over night. What is this and what does my plant need me to do ? Thank you.

It sounds as if you basil

It sounds as if you basil plant wants to spread some roots. It's doing well!

It sounds like Scale, it's an

It sounds like Scale, it's an insect and will drain your plant of most of it's ability to grow and will eventually kill the plant.

It's unusual on Basil but you can kill it with mineral oil from a garden centre. Do not just apply any old oil to your plants as it will effectively kill them as well, mineral oil is dissolved in water and becomes a white cloudy solution t can be used in getters or ponds where mosquitos and laying and it will kill them very effectively.

Spraying the solution on your basil will also get the scale.

Learn from my mistakes! It

Learn from my mistakes! It may be root buds! I noticed a lot of yellow & Brown egg-like things on the stems of my basil recently & panicked! I spent the next hour removing all of them, cursing any creepy crawly that was nearby, thinking there's no way I was going to let them take over my basil! Then, about 2 weeks later a strong wind took out half of my basil plant, breaking 2 of the main stems. I decided it was a good opportunity to propagate the basil then, so I made a fresh cut off of one of the broken stems & put it in water in the hopes it would sprout! (Success btw!) While keeping a close eye on my clippings (they were in a glass mason jar), I noticed...yellow & Brown egg- like ROOTS shooting out of the stems! Eureka! Root stems! They grew into long beautiful roots & eventually took root in soil. I later read that it's not uncommon for over-watered potted basil to develop root buds above the soil & along the stems. I think that's what u noticed, considering that there was a "strong basil smell" and I noticed the same thing when I removed all off of my plant! So, if u see them again, don't fret! Let it grow. Because your basil is in a pot, like mine, it will branch out where it can. To keep your plant healthy & limit the chances for pests, reduce the amount of water you give your basil to 1-2 times a week or water when the top inch of soil is dry. Good luck, happy growing!

I received a plant as a gift

I received a plant as a gift & it was doing well. I went to work, when I came home all the leaves were gone. They hadn't fallen off. What do you supposed happened to them?

There are many kinds of pests

There are many kinds of pests from beetles to critters.  Try spraying with Neem Oil mixed with water.

I live in Long Island, NY.

I live in Long Island, NY. This is my 3rd Summer planting my own garden, so I am still learning as I go. The first year planting my garden, I planted 2 basil plants and they did wonderfully. They grew tall and lasted throughout the Summer. Last Summer I also planted 2 and one died shortly after planting it and the other lasted through out the Summer, but it didn't grow very tall so I didn't get much from it. So this year I planted 3 basil plants & 1 cinnamon basil plant. So far one basil plant & the cinnamon plant is already dying and the other 2 plants are starting to show signs of wilting. The leaves are turning yellish and some have holes in them. What can I do to bring these back to life? I planted them at the right time, I water them daily and the temperature is hot enough for them to thrive in. I can't figure out what it is that I am doing wrong. I haven't done anything different than I did the first year so I can't understand why it did so well the first year and why it hasn't since.

Basil plants can have a

Basil plants can have a variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases. Aphids and other insects may also cause problems. Check the plants for insects. Have you grown the basil in the same spot in your garden all 3 years? The soil may need a bit of compost and it is a good idea to move the plants to a different spot every year.

Your soil may be too wet.

Your soil may be too wet. Basil needs well-drained soil. Try watering every other day.

Started my basil from seeds.

Started my basil from seeds. They sprouted, but I think I sowed too many seeds in one peat pot. Their are so many little green sprouts covering the pot! Should I thin them out now, and transplant them in individual pots. (Doing my first container garden! Yikes!) if so, how many per pot, and what size pot is recommended. They seem to have stopped growing any bigger at this point. Overcrowding? Or normal until more mature? Please help!

Transplant them when they

Transplant them when they have 2 to 3 pairs of "true" leaves. (This means normal-size leaves, not the tiny ones of baby seedlings.)
As they get larger, even before true leaves, you could thin by cutting the weak seedlings to soil level with scissors. That way, you won't risk disupting the roots of the stronger ones.
Plant them 6 to 12 inchea apart.

I got Lemon Basil & Purple

I got Lemon Basil & Purple Basil today. Is it safe to plant basil in a flower garden? In addition, if I bring the Basil plants in over the winter will they survive for the next season? My USDA Hardiness zone is 7a

Basil is happy almost

Basil is happy almost anywhere so it should be happy among flowers. Your purpole variety actually produces pink flowers when it goes to seed!
Overwintering is not usually an option; basil is an annual.

I planted basil and tomatoes

I planted basil and tomatoes two weeks ago. The tomato plants have doubled in size but the basil isn't growing. I pinched the tops just in case but no action. Help!

What do you mean 'prune above

What do you mean 'prune above the second set'? Mine already have more than six leaves, can I still harvest them?

Hi, Ryan, That means prune—or

Hi, Ryan,
That means prune—or harvest—above the second set (pair) of leaves from the soil up. This will help the plant become stronger from the stem and not straggly and top heavy.
If you have six leave on one stem in three sets, the advice is to pick only the top two leaves. You can eat these, btw. As it says above "Every time a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves."
Hope this helps!

I planted some basil plants

I planted some basil plants from a nursery a week ago and a few leaves on two of the plants are yellow and have holes in them. I live in northeast Ohio. Can you give me a diagnosis?

It could be fulsarium wilt.

It could be fulsarium wilt. This can be caused by high humidity, poor circulation, splashing of water on leaves. It may have been on the plant before you got it. See here for pics of leaf disease:
If possible remove the infected leaves, adjust conditions accordingly and see if it gets stronger.
I've grown several seedlings from the same set in one pot and often at least one fails to thrive: exact same soil, conditions, etc. I don't ever know why.

I grew basil last year. i

I grew basil last year. i removed the entire plant after the first frost. this year, there is basil growing all over my garden. i was pulling them because i thought they were weeds but the smell of basil is pretty clear. did the plant seed before i pulled it? and how can i avoid this this year. i planted them in a different area but i dont want them all over the area next year.

Hi, Tierra, Basil, being an

Hi, Tierra, Basil, being an annual, is not generally recognized as a plant that self sows from seed; the seeds would normally die in the cold/freeze of winter. Apparently the Thai variety is the most likely to succeed in surviving in a mild climate.
Did you plant Thai basil? If last year's crop flowered and the flowers dried up and, presumably, fell to the ground before you cleared the garden, then these might be basil. You might let a couple go/grow for a while and see what they become.
Or, clear the lot now and . To avoid the risk next year, if indeed it is basil, harvest before the plants flower.

This sounds a lot like the

This sounds a lot like the problem I had, but I sincerely hope yours is different. A neighbor gave me what she called mint basil. belonged to the mint family more than the basil family and I had it all over my garden for years. Tiny roots were being transferred all over the garden by our tiller. Wonderful in many dishes and soups, but just did not want so much of it. Good luck with yours.

How do you know when then

How do you know when then last frost is? I can even figure out when a frost is going to happen.

The last expected spring

The last expected spring frost date is an average date based on many years of data from weather stations in your area. For more information, see:

I live in AZ and this year we

I live in AZ and this year we have not really had a winter I planted basil from TJs last year and it is still growing, the stems at the bottom are like wood but it keeps growing more leaves, some have flowered. I was told once the plant has flowered that the leaves will be bitter, is that true? I hate to pull it up but it is a old plant now and it is almost time to replant.

Once basil flowers,

Once basil flowers, production declines. Unless you are looking for seeds, you'd want to pinch off any flower stems before they mature and keep the plant pruned. As it ages, the plant does indeed get woody and there are less leaves to snip. However, you can certainly leave the plant alone to enjoy for its flowers and ornamental value!

I just want to ask if I can

I just want to ask if I can plant a stem of basil and re-grow it? I put a bunch of basil in a flower vase in the kitchen and it started to grow tiny roots. Can I put that in a pot of soil and grow them? Thanks.

You can certainly try! We can

You can certainly try! We can not guarantee the outcome; transplants are tender. However, if you give the shoot time to set substantial roots, transplant it gently into a loose-style medium (avoid heavy potting soil), and adequate sun, you might find that you have a new plant. Let us know how it goes!

I recently placed Basil in a

I recently placed Basil in a glass of water. I changed the water every couple of days.They developed roots after about 8-10 days. I moved the first one straight into prepared potting soil. It went into shock. I was able to save it by watering it lightly, twice a day for about a week. After that, it was watered when needed. The others, I dipped in rooting hormone before planting and the plants did not have to be babied as much. I water 2-3 times a week & kept the young transplants in partial shade and they did fine. For $.99, I got about 15 small plants that started putting out leaves right away. I will use this method again next year. Maximum plant for minimum work and minimum cost. I'm in Central
California where the summers are very hot.

When you see roots forming on

When you see roots forming on a cutting in water, they are not "real" roots that will take in soil quickly so it may die whrn you pot it into soil. After a plant forms roots in water, add a little soil to the water and wait a bit, adding more soil over a couple of weeks. Then the roots will have adapted to getting nutrients from soil and should transplant well.

I bought a basil plant in a

I bought a basil plant in a plastic pot at Trader Joe's and now I read that I cannot plant outside until after frost. It's been about 33 degrees here in Stockton, CA in the central valley. We are getting about 70 unusual daytime weather. What should I do with this basil? Will it die outside? should I keep it covered with something to avoid dieing from frost? Keep it in the house at my sink where it will get a little sun but steam from sink? Can you possibly help? Thank you. Jeannine

Basil will turn black and die

Basil will turn black and die if it gets even a whiff of temps below 35 degrees. It likes sun, lots of sun.

We also bought our basil

We also bought our basil plants at Trader Joe's. I brought them in for the winter and just kept them in my living room by the window (it's even a window that faces west so it only gets sun after, maybe 1 or 2 pm.) The plants did fine and I just put them back outside. Our nighttime lows aren't as low as yours though, I think it's only gotten down to 38. Maybe just sit them out in the day and bring them in at night. Good luck!

I'm thinking of starting my

I'm thinking of starting my first-ever herb garden, indoors. We have a bay window on a south wall, which I thought would be a good spot. I have been doing some research and would like to include Basil, but I don't care for Pesto. What are some other uses for Basil? I am particularly interested in Lemon and Purple Basil.

Fresh basil is wonderful in

Fresh basil is wonderful in many dishes. Add fresh basil leaves to thick soups, salad mixes, stir-fried vegetables, olive oil marinades, sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, and atop pizza. The list goes on. Usually, you want to add basil at the last minute so it doesn't wilt.

Oh, good tips. I didn't know

Oh, good tips. I didn't know about putting it in last minute, so I especially appreciate that. Thanks!

I also like to roll several

I also like to roll several large leaves together, slice thinly and add to salad. It imparts a delicious flavor to salad greens.

I did a project with basil

I did a project with basil recently. Use ground green coffee grounds. These are obtainable at most starbucks coffee shops in th U.S. Basil love itand grow quite fastqnd tall.

Help! I am quite new to the

Help! I am quite new to the gardening scene, and was given a basil plant by a student if mine as a gift. It was doing great, but now one of the stems has turned completely black, and the others are starting to show some signs if blackening near the base. Also, the new leaves near the top of the stems are drying up. I'm not sure what to do, if it can even be fixed. The evening here in Florida are also starting to get much cooler.

Basil loves warmth. The black

Basil loves warmth. The black stems and drying leaves is a sign that the plant needs more heat. Prune the plant and bring it into a protected sunny area with no drafts.

When the basil stop growing

When the basil stop growing for the winter, will it grow back in the summer?

Basil is an annual in colder

Basil is an annual in colder climates and you need to start with new plants next year. You can extend the season by bringing the plant indoors. Prune the plant first and then put it in a sunny spot with no drafts.

I live in india. Here we use

I live in india. Here we use basil seeds, popularly known as "sabja" in desserts. would this be the same kind of seeds used to grow basil plants?they are available with the local grocery store. they are really tiny black seeds that swell up when soaked in water to become soft and glutinous .

In my basil planting area I

In my basil planting area I have what looks like basil in that it's growing tall however, it developes a sticker . The sticker looks like a puncture vine sticker. Is that the way basil seeds look like?

I have new basil just

I have new basil just starting to grow from seeds. They only have one pair of leaves and are barely showing above the soil. the problem is they haven't been showing signs of any growth for at least a week and a half. I'm worried they are not getting enough sun or something, but the pots are in the sunniest spot possible. what do i do?

For basil to grow

For basil to grow successfully, it is important to:
1. Use high-quality compost.
2. Not plant too deeply. Just lightly cover with potting soil and pre-moisten the compost.
3. Avoid crowding them. One plant per pot is fine. Split them up and give each plant their own individual container. They like to be on their own.
Hope these tips help.

First time growing

First time growing basil...can the flowers and their stems be used to flavor (cook) food? Thanks

We've never done this, but

We've never done this, but we've had readers who have. The petals would look lovely in a salad.

Thanks for the response. I

Thanks for the response. I will try that once I see the next set of petals.

Hey this is my first time

Hey this is my first time growing Basil nd I didn't research much b4 doing so... now I now know I was supposed to pinch them when those flowers bloomed.. (which I obviously didnt do nd was wondering what to do now being I have atleast a dozen Basil plants out there with long flower stems coming out if them??

Pinch off the purple-flowered

Pinch off the purple-flowered stalks at their base. It's been warm for basil and it's going into "reproductive mode" and stopping growth. If your basil plants don't keep growing, try cutting them in half (make some pesto) and it should grow back with renewed energy. Since you have so many plants, perhaps you do an experiment this year and do half and half!

I have Thai Basil and

I have Thai Basil and absolutely love it. We took a week long vacation and during that time it went to flower. Now my wonderfully sweet licorice flavored basil is terribly bitter and not palatable. If I prune it back will the flavor return to sweet or have I lost it for the season? Thanks for the answers 'yall.

Pinch off the flowers and

Pinch off the flowers and bloom stems to see if it will keep harvesting. The flavor of Thai Basil shouldn't change that much.

I live in Nebraska and was

I live in Nebraska and was hoping to find plenty of herbs that come back every year for my raised garden beds. I haven't read anything about lemon basil coming back every year. Does it?

Heather: My understanding is

Heather: My understanding is that all basils are annuals. Although I have heard of a rare plant that returns yearly to the pleasure of the owners. So best idea (IMHO) is to plant with the idea that it will die & not return but be pleasantly surprised if it returns.

I can see Cinnamon basil,

I can see Cinnamon basil, sweet basil, Thai, purple basil, but I don't see a mention of Iranian basil! strange as it has a phenomenal taste & smell. I personal find majority of basil in UK to be very perfumy. If anyone can get hold of some seeds, I love to hear what other people think of.

I just bought a couple of

I just bought a couple of basil plants, 4 plants each per 5' wide x 6' tall plastic bag. They're all between 12 and 22 inches tall, with about 80% of them at about 15-16'. They are all producing leaves and being regularly pruned but from what I've read the plants really do need more space . Is it too dangerous to transplant them at this point or should I take the risk? And if so, should the plants be separated or kept together to reduce root damage? Thank you!!

We wouldn't translant so late

We wouldn't translant so late in the game. You can start harvesting the leaves now (any time after the plants are over 6 inches tall), pinching them from the stems. Basil is an annual so you'll start over in the spring. They take 60 to 90 days to mature. Prune the top leaves to keep it nice and bushy and compact. Also, pinch off any flowers that you see so they don't go to seed.

i planted some seeds from my

i planted some seeds from my old basil plant about a month ago, yesterday i replanted them for the first time in separate pots further apart as they were getting too crowded (i live in a high rise flat). today i went to take a look as i usually do to check on them and many of them were starting to shrivel and get black tips on their leaves. :'( only the two that were left in the original pot were not having any of those signs. could i have replanted them wrongly? i was very careful and kept the plant roots intact, also i planted them in nearly up to where the original seed leaves were.

it sounds as if they may have

it sounds as if they may have some root damage. Basil leaves will get black tips due to stress from a recent rooting.
Perhaps give partial shade/sun and a little Miracle Gro and they'll be fine in time. Don't overwater. Make sure it gets lot of air movement.

i did as you said, some did

i did as you said, some did not take too well to their new locations but most have recovered and are growing larger. thank you for your help!

I have a huge basil plant. at

I have a huge basil plant. at first it was doing amazing. then the flowers came about, and i cut them off. now it has been looking like its trying to die. i keep it moist. i live in hawaii so i thought it was getting too much sun so we moved it to part shade. now the top of it still looks like its trying to die but i have noticed that at the bottom little sprigs of new basil and new basil leaves on the stems are growing. should i cut it back? its about three ft tall. thanks

Yep, keep pinching off those

Yep, keep pinching off those flower buds. Your basil's reproduction in shutting down due to heat or humidity. You could even cut off half the plant (make some pesto) and it should rejuvenate the basil for more growth.

Yes, i live just outside of

Yes, i live just outside of memphis, and its the end of june. Not extremely hot yet, so why is 2 1/2 month old basil already looking like its dying? Not really flowering a whole lot at all, and bottom leaves, especially, are turning a very pale, greenish yellow. Its in a north facing bed on the front of our house where sun reaches over the garden for at least 4 hours and planted next to tomatoes that are staring to do the same thing. I have been watering in the mornings, unless there is a good chance of rain. I do not get it.

Basil is susceptible to cold

Basil is susceptible to cold conditions, and you are effectively chilling it by planting in a north-facing bed. Ditto for your tomatoes.
Basil and tomatoes need full sun. Four hours is not enough; 6 (aka"part sun") is sometimes acceptable but they really need 8 hours or more, or "full sun." It's not just the "light" effect of the Sun that they need; "full sun" not only casts light but the Sun warms the soil.
By watering when they can not dry out due to low sunlight/warmth, the plants are, essentially, drowning.
Basil and tomatoes prefer full sun, well-draining soil, and appropriate pH.
If there is any way you can plant or pot in a south-facing spot you would probably be more successful.

I'm growing two plants

I'm growing two plants outdoors along with tomato plants. The leaves on my basil plants have a distinctly yellow look to them. I'm clueless as to what this means or what to do about it. Any help would be greatly appreciated - Thank you!

get them out of there, sweet

get them out of there, sweet basil doesn't do well with other plants, re-reroot them elsewhere

I live in Arizona where the

I live in Arizona where the summers are HOT HOT HOT!. I mean, 110-120 is the norm in the summer months.
I have been trying to grow basil in planters for the past few months and nothing I do seems to work. Within a few weeks, the plants are shriveled and dead. We've tried putting them in full sun, but the sun destroyed them; and we've tried putting them on our covered patio so they get the heat but not necessarily the sun but then they shrivel and the leaves turn black. Unfortunately, I do not have a place in my house where I could put them either.

We're trying again and we want to figure out what we're doing wrong. I bought 3 healthy sweet basil from my local nursery and will be transplanting them today. We did put them outside in the full sun earlier for about an hour but then some of the leaves started turning black so we brought them back inside.

If you have any ideas/suggestions/tips, it would be greatly appreciated. Please and thank you.

In such hot weather, we might

In such hot weather, we might start the basil in the spring outside. When it starts to get hot (around June) -- after the basil plant is firmly established -- you could move it to a covered patio with shade and indirect light and it should still do fine. Water every day!

I have about 15 basil spouted

I have about 15 basil spouted up.

I am confused about when I should pinch it first. They are about 2 inches tall, and there are flat leaves on it. There are two tiny little leaves (with the line down the center) growing. Should I pinch those off? If not, how long should I wait before I do any pinching?

The leaves with the lines are

The leaves with the lines are the first two "true leaves". The flat leaves below them are called seed leaves, these will fall off soon on their own.

Do not pinch your basil just yet, they will be stunted as their first true leaves are important.

According to the instructions, "After the seedlings have their first six leaves, prune to above the second set." This means you should start pinching your basil only after they have 6 leaves with lines. Then only prune 2 leaves off.

From that spot, two new branches will appear with two leaves of their own. You should only prune 1/3 of the plant at a time.

leaves turning yellow

Help my new basil seeds starting off great...too many starters what shall I do?

Good for you! Once seedlings

Good for you! Once seedlings have developed 2-3 pairs of true leaves, they should be thinned or transplanted to stand 6-12 inches apart. Be ruthless or you won't have healthy basil!

Freezing basil in oil

Fill a food processor with basil leaves, adding just enough EVOO to hold the mixture together, like a thick paste. Put in an air-tight container and freeze. (I like to freeze it initially in an ice tray, then transfer the cubes to a freezer bag, so I can take out a little at a time.)


I found the best way to freeze basil is to use small jars I saved. I put a top layer of olive oil on. Be sure to leave a half inch head space before sealing with the cap.

My dead Basil

I used to have Basil, but one day, tiny brown and black dots showed up. The leaves started to shrink and shrivel up. Microscopic little white bugs (I am 100% sure they are definitely not aphids or leafhoppers, they were much smaller) started to crawl around, and soon all the leaves were gone, leaving a skeleton of a plant. What happened?

basil bugs and more

It's impossible to exactly explain the failure of your basil plants to thrive. Like so many plants, this too can be tricky. It can be vulnerable to downy mildew and there is nothing you can do about it. It can be brought in on transplants, in infected seed, or as airborne spores.
The best thing you can do it try again. Use good composted soil, wet but don't drown the plants, give them adequate sun.
And it could be something else, too.
It's tragic, but better luck next time.

Your dead basil

Sounds like it could be spider mites? They can look brown with black spots...they're leaf damage leaves brown thinning with black specks I believe. Maybe their larvae are white

my dead basil

Sounds to me as whiteflies if they are white and look like white powder/dust when u shake the plant almost impossible to get rid of unless you treat but then thebasil will be bad to consume a good way to keeping pests off before they do make a hme of your plant mix soap and water and spray on your plant everyday

Hot summers

I live in the Central Valley in California (Fresno to be exact) and we get pretty hot summers. What can I do to protect my outdoor basil plant from dying?

basil and the heat of summer

I wouldn't worry about it. I live in Arkansas, and last year it got up to 112 degrees--my basil flourished. Just make sure it get enough water.

Growth/height after 1-2 weeks?

I'm not sure if my basil plants are growing correctly, what is the average height it should be during the 1-2 week point?

It takes a week just for the

It takes a week just for the basil seeds to germinate and see the seedling start to emerge. You should see two broad seed leaves, each shaped like a capital D, borne with flat sides facing each other.

house plant

I have one growing in my livingroom, I get snow where i live in the winter, so this year i thought i would try and keep one inside. so far it is doing great, i have had it for about month and a half. any thoughts?

Basil can grow indoors if has

Basil can grow indoors if has plenty of bright light. Some folks install artificial lights and run for 10-12 hours daily. If your basil grows, you'll enjoy harvesting the leaves indoors for cooking. Keep in mind that basil is an annual so it will eventually finish flowering and die. Then you start again seeding in the spring.

I guess that I have been

I guess that I have been lucky then. I've got one basil plant that is now two years old and still producing good basil. I've been pruning them back just before the end of the season so that the "woody" stalks have from 4 to 6 leaves per stalk. As the season gets to the first frost, they have added on a couple of leaves and I move them indoors to one set of windows that get great light all year long.

I've managed to keep harvesting leaves all through the winter as well. I do make sure that they don't get spindly and trim back dead stalks as needed.


read above about aphids,that sounds like what is on your plants

basil storage--Elaine

I like to store my basil by making large batches of pesto. I then wrap it in plastic and shape it into a roll and freeze. When I need some, I slice off what is needed easily.

picking the basil

This is the first time I have grown basil. I have 4 plants of sweet basil and the above talks about pruning the branches mine has no branches just bunches of leaves and they are sprouting their 4th set with little one inside can someone explain how to prune the basil thanks

Every time you cut some basil

Every time you cut some basil leaves to eat, cut right above a pair of leaves and new growth will come. For culinary uses, prune basil every few weeks to encourage maximum production; just pinch off the flower buds as soon as they begin to emerge.

Storing Basil in olive oil

Tried & true method.
In a clean glass jar
Place a layer of basil leaves.
Add a layer of salt.
Then a layer of olive oil.
Add your next layer of basil repeating the step sequence until the jar is 2/3 full.
Finish with a layer of oil.
Cap & place in the refrig.
Stir the leaves once in a while leaving the top laver of oil covering the leaves.
In a few weeks you will have potent basil oil.
Add a tablespoon/teaspoon of oil (leaves to if desired) to any dish for summer flavor in the winter.
Salt your dish if needed after tasting.
Remember to top off the oil to keep the leaves submerged or they will brown.
This will keep till the next years harvest & beyond

Basil in oil

Be generous with the salt layer.
Many times I just use the oil on top to cook my eggs or add to a salad.
Remember to use a good olive oil!

Basil in olive oil

Thanks so much... first time growing Basil will try this method this year. I love to see herbs in oil but never knew how to do it.... thanks again!i

Layer volumne

How thick should each layer be in a one quart jar, or, I guess, in any jar? Thanks.

drying sweet basil

When I naturally dry sweet basil, sometimes the leaves turn brown. How can I keep from this happening?

 Make sure that you're

 Make sure that you're washing the basil leaves before you're drying them. Also, make sure you're keeping them in a cool, dry place, and they should keep for weeks.

white sticky sacks on the basil

I have some white sticky sacks on the basil but they never get hard. I am sure it is a bug of some kind but not sure what. They wash off real easy but I would like to know what they are and how to get rid of them instead of washing them off as they are there again in the morning.


read above about aphids

Botanical Name: 

Ocimum basilicum

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Keep Your New Garden Growing

keepgardengrowingcover.jpgTop 10 Veggies.
Almanac Editors Tips- water, feed, pest control, harvest


You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter


Solar Energy Production Today

200.10 kWh

Live data from the solar array at The Old Farmer's Almanac offices in Dublin, NH.