How to Grow Bushy Basil to Harvest All Summer Long

Basil is a fragrant, tasty, warm-weather annual herb that may be found in nearly every summer garden. Basil's flexibility makes it an essential herb, whether you're seeking to fuel your pesto addiction, enjoy a caprese salad with your home-grown tomatoes, or just want to amp up your renowned pasta sauce.

While fragrant basil (Ocimum basilicum) is reasonably simple to grow, the plants can quickly become tall, lanky, and sparse. Everyone desires huge, bushy plants with high harvests. The good news is that if properly maintained for, basil will provide you with an unending harvest all summer long.

What is Basil?

Basil plants are a common herb native to southern Asia and the South Pacific islands. This member of the mint family is easy to cultivate. Basil herb plant, considered a delicate annual, provides fragrant leaves that are frequently used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. Basil seeds are a common Thai ingredient as well.

Basil grows incredibly rapidly since it is an annual. In fact, it can take as little as 3 to 4 weeks from seed to harvest. This quick-growing herb is a good choice for inexperienced gardeners.

Starting Basil

Basil is a simple plant to cultivate from seed, or you can buy starting seedlings at your local garden shop. Pick up a couple different kinds! Classic Italian or Genovese basil, Opal (purple) basil, Lemon basil, and even Cinnamon are some of our faves! Check out this wonderful mixed-variety bundle of certified organic basil seeds, or these 12 locations to get premium organic, heirloom, or non-GMO seeds.

Basil, like other garden vegetable seeds, prefers to be started from seed. Using a light fluffy seedling start mix, keeping the soil equally wet (particularly before sprouting), providing heat to help in germination, and providing sufficient light as soon as the sprouts develop are all examples.

1. Keep Them Warm

Basil plants dislike frigid temperatures and are sensitive to temperature fluctuations (those of us in Maine who can't get basil to do much of anything know what this means!). To minimize frost damage, avoid placing basil seedlings in the ground too soon. If you grow basil in containers, move them inside (your garage would suffice) if you expect a chilly night.

2. Ensure Proper Drainage

Basil requires well-draining soil to thrive. Make use of a planter with a lot of drainage holes. If the bottom of your favorite planter lacks holes, drill some if feasible. Drainage is also improved by lining the bottom of the pot with a couple inches of gravel.

3. Keep Soil Moist

While basil prefers well-drained soil, it also like to be kept wet. It might be difficult to maintain regular moisture without waterlogging them. Overwatering can produce mildew and rot on the stems, limiting the development of your basil. Once a week, thoroughly water your plants. Basil grown in pots has to be watered more frequently since the soil dries up faster than ground soil.

4. Water the Soil Not The Leaves

Water the plant from the bottom up, avoiding showering the leaves and stems. It is recommended to soak slowly and thoroughly. Drip watering systems are also effective. Mulching around plants also aids in the retention and conservation of water while keeping weeds at bay.

5. Let The Sun Shine In

Basil plants require a lot of sunlight. Place your plants in a bright, sunny location where they will receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day, away from chilly breezes. If you're growing plants inside, set them on a sunny windowsill with plenty of light.

6. Fertilize Properly

Basil, like other plants, benefits from nutritional supplementation. Feed your basil plants every four to six weeks for indoor plants and every 2-3 weeks for outdoor plants using a good organic fertilizer. A well-balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate will assist in increasing leaf output.

7. Harvest Early and Often

Harvesting and trimming basil are practically the same thing. Pruning tips are provided below, and what you pruned can be used in your harvest.

Begin collecting your basil early in the season and continue to harvest every week or two throughout the season. If you observe flower buds beginning to emerge on your mature plant, it's time to prune. If not, the plant will use its energy to producing seeds rather of producing more of its delectable leaves. Furthermore, blooming alters the flavor of the basil. If you are late to the game and blossoms have begun to form, simply pinch off the flower heads, which are delicious as well.


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