How Do I Keep My Supermarket Basil Plant Alive?

You picked up another pot of basil at the supermarket or garden centre – and as usual, it didn’t survive long? Annoying, but unfortunately predictable. Because if the plants are as close together as in the supermarket herb pots, it is rarely possible to have more than two harvests. But that doesn’t have to be the case. With our tips on propagation by division, the harvest time can be significantly extended. We also tell you what is important when it comes to care. And best of all: our tips are also available as video instructions. GardenFlora editor Achim Werner tells you everything you need to know.

Bought basil goes to seed – what now?

Basil is always a little treat – how practical when you can harvest, process and serve it fresh as needed. But how can this be done as profitably as possible – preferably over many weeks – and does it even work with the spontaneously bought supermarket basil, which by now already looks quite damaged? Or is it perhaps more worthwhile to sow basil? Don’t despair – ask the professionals!


Separating basil from the pot: This is how it works

Separate the plants from each other and carefully pull apart the well-rooted root ball. Make sure that the plants keep as large a root ball as possible. If they are too close together, simply leave two or three basil plants together and plant them as a tuff.

Important: Shorten the plants to two to four leaves each afterwards. This way the seedling can put its energy into root formation.

By the way: The whole thing also works very well with oregano.

Now place the plants in a balcony box at a distance of five by five centimetres. Plant the individual basil plants a little deeper so that they develop additional roots. Now water vigorously, then keep the substrate evenly moist. If there is a risk of frost at night, it is better to place the box on the windowsill, in a cold frame or in a greenhouse. During the day, however, basil prefers a sunny and wind-protected spot outdoors.


Care measures

After about three weeks, new leaflets have grown. Around six weeks after planting, the nutrient supply of the substrate is exhausted and liquid fertiliser is applied weekly. In this way, you can turn the purchased basil pot into a whole box that will provide spicy leaves until frost.


Harvest basil correctly

When harvesting, do not pluck off individual, lateral leaves, but cut off the entire upper shoot tips of the plant just above a leaf axil. This will encourage branching and the resulting side shoots will produce even more of the aromatic leaves. Thinning out and cutting off just above the leaf axil also reduces the risk of fungal diseases.

Long harvest with full flavour

During the summer you should also harvest the basil shoots regularly so that the flowering is delayed. Otherwise the leaves will develop a tart, slightly bitter taste and also become tougher.
Do you prefer to grow basil in a pot or sow it?

Clearly, sowing gives you a wider choice of varieties. Sow basil from March to May on the windowsill or in a greenhouse at a temperature of at least 20 degrees Celsius. In June, basil seeds also germinate outdoors. The seeds of the light germinator are only pressed on. As soon as the seedlings crowd each other, they are planted out in a sheltered, sunny spot outdoors or in the greenhouse.

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