Welcome to the Easy guide to growing Basil, also called sweet basil or Thai basil. It’s an annual herb of the mint family, well known for its aromatic leaves.
Basil is called by many names but all of its common names refer back to it’s botanical name, Ocimum basilicum. Basil is part of the large mint family, along with other herbs like rosemary, sage, and even lavender.
Basil is a very popular kitchen herb and easy to grow in the home, the leaves can be used fresh or dried to flavour meats, fish, salads, and sauces. Although it’s relatively cheap to buy from most supermarkets nothing beats growing your own! picking a few fresh leaves from your plant to flavour a pasta or pizza makes it all worthwhile and satisfying.
Is Basil easy to grow indoors?
Basil is easy to grow indoors or outdoors, it’s main requirement is a good supply of sunshine. If planted outside be sure that it’s sheltered from harsh winds and gets plenty of light as it is extremely frost-sensitive and grows best in warm climates. If you are limited for space and prefer to grow basil indoors, then a sunny window sill is perfect to grow Basil. If you decide to grow basil in a container indoors you can always move it outside on a sunny day.
How to grow Basil
When growing basil in a pot the seeds are best started off indoors from around February to mid-summer.
- Fill a 7.5cm (3in) pot with seed compost, firm down the compost and sow a few basil seeds over the top – the germination success rate is high so only sow a few more seeds than you need.
- Cover with a thin layer of vermiculite, water gently and place into a propagator. If you don’t have one, It’s not a problem. You can easily cover the pot with a small, clear freezer bag and use an elastic band to secure it around the pot.
- The seedlings will emerge within 1 to 2 weeks
- After germination, it’s okay to remove them from the propagator and keep the soil damp.
- You can stand the pot in a shallow dish of water to provide moisture, keep it warm and make sure it has plenty of light.
- As the seedlings progress are large enough to handle, give them their own 7.5cm (3in) pot filled with good quality multi-purpose compost.
keeping a basil plant healthy
What are the ideal conditions for growing basil?
Basil plants don’t like too much water and having wet roots overnight, it’s always best to water your plants in the morning.
Allow good drainage for your pots and keep the soil slightly moist at all times.
To keep your plants looking vibrant and healthy you should pinch the tips of the branches regularly to promote new growth and remove any flowers that start to develop.
Varieties of Basil
Basil comes in various varieties, you can choose what to grow for different styles of fresh home cooking.
Large, bright green sweet leaves that go great with mozzarella and tomatoes.
With Huge leaves this variety is perfect for making a delicious pesto sauce.
This is really tasty, with slightly hairy oval leaves that are great for Thai cooking.
Showy dark leaves which are heavily fringed. The deep purple leaves are a colorful addition to any recipe.
Also known as Mexican spice basil, has a spicy, fragrant aroma and flavor. This variety is a bushy plant with aromatic red veined green leaves.
Have any top tips for growing basil? Let us know in the comments box below.