To grow basil indoors is a relatively simple so you don’t need to have a huge garden space and, if properly cared for, will thrive when raised on your kitchen counter.
It doesn’t require a great deal of care, nor does it have all sorts of complicated soil, fertilizer, and sunlight needs.
As long as you provide it with the basics, you’ll be able to grow basil for yourself, and maybe even have a few extra basil leaves you can give to your friends and family members.
Basil is probably one of the most used herbs there is and one that we usually think of as a spice associated with cooking, in particular, Italian cuisine.
It’s always best to cook with fresh basil. Not only does this allow you to get the maximum amount of flavor from the herb, but the fresher the basil, the more of a positive impact it will have on your health.
How to Grow Basil from Seeds or Seedlings.
You’ll need to decide if you want to start to grow basil plants from seeds or start with seedlings. There are advantages to both options. The seeds are inexpensive and you’ll take a great deal of pride knowing you did the entire process by yourself. On the other hand, starting with young plants means you already have a healthy, thriving specimen and you’ll be able to enjoy fresh basil sooner than if your start with a seed. Seedlings often come in their own pot (which you might have to change later as the plant grows) where all of their soil needs have been met.
Use Proper Pots and Soil
However, if you decide to go with seeds, the first thing you need to do is choose the containers you’re going to use to grow basil. The pots have to be well drained and should be large enough for the adult plant. Container gardeners claim to have the best luck when they use clay pots. If you are using a pot that has previously held any kind of plant, you need to take the time to thoroughly disinfect it before planting your basil. This prevents any cross contamination and keeps your freshly planted basil healthy. Your container needs to be at least 6” deep.
Basil does require a fairly large pot. You can plant multiple seeds in a single pot, but each of those seeds should be spaced a minimum of 5 inches apart. A 7-inch pot should be used for single plants.
To grow basil, you don’t need to spend a great deal of time mixing an elaborate soil mixture or adding all kinds of fertilizers. Basil grows best when in a soil that’s 2/3 potting soil and 1/3 perlite. Some container gardeners replace the perlite with sharp sand.
The Right Amount of Sunlight and Water
Basil needs a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight in order to thrive. Most people find that this is the most difficult part of growing basil indoors, especially during the winter months. Choose a window that gets the most direct sunlight to the plant and if needed use artificial growing lights. Place the basil not far away from a heat source, since it doesn’t do well when the soil is cold.
When you water your indoor basil plants you should completely moisten the soil until you have a small amount of water floating on the top of the soil. The basil won’t need to be watered again until the top inch has dried.
The best time to start harvesting fresh basil leaves from the plant is when it has reached about 4” tall. At this point, the plant should yield enough leaves for you to use to cook or dry at least once a week. Small leaves tend to have the best flavor.
Benefits of Regular Basil Consumption
What many don’t realize is that there are also several health benefits you’ll enjoy when you grow basil and make it a regular part of your diet.
- Basil has anti-aging properties and studies indicate that it can help decrease the number of free radicals that often lead to the development of different types of cancer.
- Basil is really high in antioxidants which help keep skin smooth and keep your blood pressure low.
- Basil can help reduce some inflammation and swelling you’re experiencing by up to 75%.
For further information on the health benefits and medicinal properties of basil visit the herb’s profile
A biologist, zoologist, scuba-diver, blogger and aspiring herbalist with interest in nature conservation, animal protection, herbal medicine and medicinal plants.