Growing Basil is one of the easiest types of plants and herbs to grow by anyone at home. The best thing about Basil is that it can grow indoors all year, and will thrive in almost all Canadian and US summer climates.
Basil is a native plant to tropical regions in central Africa and South East Asia. There are many varieties of Basil as well as different hybrids. The most common type of Basil that we tent to see and use is called Sweet Basil (Genovese Basil). Other awesome types of Basil include Thai Basil, Lemon Basil, and Holy Basil.
Sweet Basil is our favourite since it can be used in a variety of applications. Sweet Basil leaves are strong and pungent with the sweet Basil aroma and are also much larger than other Basil varieties.
In cooler climates throughout Canada and the United States most Basil varieties are treated as annuals. This means that if you have Basil planted in your outdoor garden it will die off during the fall months. This is due to the cold, however, if you decide to move your outdoor Basil plants indoors during the winter months, your Basil plant will continue to grow year round.
Basil Cultivation and Care
Growing Basil is one of the easiest plants to grow and care for. Growing Basil is perfect for new gardeners and veteran gardeners alike.
When choosing to grow Basil you can do so by two ways:
- Growing Basil from Seed; and
- Growing Basil from a Cutting.
Growing Basil from seed is very easy and you can begin harvesting your Basil within 2-3 weeks from planting. To grow Basil from seed you will need the following items:
- Basil seeds
- Good potting soil
- A well draining pot
Step 1: Prepping your Pots
The first step in growing your Basil plant is to prepare your pots. To do this take your potting soil and pour some into your “well-draining” pot. A well-draining pot will have lots of drain holes at the bottom. The drain holes allow extra water to drain out of your pot and also help drive additional oxygen into your root system. This is key to having a healthy Basil plant.
Once your soil is in the pot, take an old pencil or pen and give the soil a stir. This is not required, but, helps break down any clumped soil. A fluffier soil will help stimulate better root growth and a faster growing Basil plant.
Step 2: Pre-Soak Your Soil
This is a trick that we find works very well in promoting faster seed germination. Before you sow your seeds, you should pre water your soil. This can be done by top watering (spray bottle/spout) or bottom watering (let you pots sit in water and soak from the bottom).
Step 3: Sow Your Seeds
Sowing Basil seeds is very easy. We find that “fluffing” the soil and then using a pencil or pen to poke a small 1cm deep hole in the soil, followed by placing 2-3 Basil seeds within the hole works best. Once you have placed your seeds in the hold fill the hold in with some soil.
Step 4: Wait for Growth
Once you have sowed your Basil seeds, you should place your container or pot in a warm area. Ensuring that your soil remains above 17 degrees Celsius will help with a quick germination. To help with the germination process covering the top of your pot with plastic wrap can be done.
After about 4-10 days you will begin to see your Basil plants sprouting. At this time it is important to ensure that the plant has a minimum of 12 hours of light and you remove any coverings (ie. plastic wrap).
Step 5: Growth, Watering, and Topping
Within the next 1-2 weeks you will see lots of growth and you will begin to smell the Basil aroma. During this period it’s important that you keep a consistent watering schedule. With a well-draining soil and in a well-lit area, we water our Basil plants every 2-3 days.
Basil is very tough, so don’t worry about over watering your plant. As long as you have a well-draining soil and a pot with drain holes, you will be fine!
Once your Basil plant has its first set of true leaves, you can consider topping/cropping the plant to encourage more horizontal growth instead of vertical growth. See the video below on how to top and crop your Basil plant. Topping will ultimately promote a bushier Basil plant with significantly higher yields and leaves.
Step 6: Maintain and Enjoy
At this point your plant should be healthy and producing sweet aromatic Basil leaves. From here on out it’s important that you harvest your Basil leaves which in turn will help stimulate more growth. Don’t worry about cutting the plant back too much, Basil is super resilient and will continue to grow until it become diseased or root bound.
FYI: We have had a Basil plant live for over 1 year in a small red solo cup. Pruning and watering is key!