Planting Basil: Timing, Location And Proper Care

Planting basil is a relatively easy process, and it’s a popular herb to grow in gardens or containers due to its culinary uses. Here are some guidelines for timing, location, and proper care when planting basil:

1. Timing:

  • Outdoor Planting: Basil is a warm-season herb, so it’s best to plant it after the last frost in the spring. In most regions, this means planting in late spring or early summer. The soil temperature should be at least 50°F (10°C) for successful germination and growth.
  • Indoor Planting: You can start basil indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. This allows you to get a head start on the growing season. Transplant the seedlings outdoors when the weather has warmed up.

2. Location:

  • Sunlight: Basil thrives in full sunlight, so choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you’re growing basil indoors, place it in a south or west-facing window or use artificial grow lights.
  • Soil: Basil prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.0 to 7.0). Amending the soil with compost can help improve its texture and fertility. Good drainage is crucial to prevent root rot.
  • Container Gardening: If you’re planting basil in a container, make sure it has adequate drainage holes. Use a high-quality potting mix to ensure good drainage and nutrient availability.

3. Planting and Spacing:

  • Plant basil seeds or seedlings about ¼ to ½ inch deep in the soil.
  • If you’re planting multiple basil plants, space them about 12-18 inches apart. This gives them enough room to grow and ensures good air circulation, which can help prevent diseases.

4. Watering:

  • Basil prefers consistent moisture but doesn’t like to sit in waterlogged soil. Water your basil plants when the top inch of soil feels dry. Be sure not to overwater or let the soil become too dry, as this can stress the plant.
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5. Fertilizing:

  • You can fertilize basil with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as excessive nitrogen can lead to lots of leaves but less flavor in the basil.

6. Pruning and Harvesting:

  • Regularly pinch back the growing tips to encourage bushier growth. Pinching encourages the plant to produce more leaves and delays flowering, which can make the leaves less flavorful.
  • Harvest basil leaves when the plant has enough growth (usually when it reaches 6-8 inches in height). Pinch off individual leaves or cut whole stems just above a leaf pair. Use fresh basil leaves immediately or store them in the refrigerator for a short time.

7. Pests and Diseases:

  • Keep an eye out for common basil pests like aphids, whiteflies, and slugs. Use appropriate pest control methods if necessary.
  • Basil is susceptible to fungal diseases in humid conditions. To prevent these, ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering.

By following these guidelines for timing, location, and proper care, you can grow healthy and flavorful basil in your garden or containers. Enjoy using this versatile herb in your culinary creations!

Basilikum pflanzen

Planting basil is easy: Whether in the garden, on the balcony or on the windowsill – in warm temperatures basil grows almost by itself. We show you what you should pay attention to when planting and caring for it.

Planting basil: the right time

Basil is one of the most popular spices because of its aromatic flavor. The plant is easy to care for, but it needs a lot of warmth and sun. That’s why you should sow basil only from the end of April – before that it is often still too cold in Europe. Temperatures should not fall below 10 degrees, neither during the day nor at night.

Our tip: So that you can harvest more basil, grow the plants early on the windowsill. In a small growing bed or flower pot, you can simply sprinkle the seeds on the soil as early as March.

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Do not cover the seeds with soil, because they need light to germinate.
Water them with a little water after sowing.
As soon as the first seedlings come, you should space them out about five centimeters. This way they have enough space and don’t take away each other’s nutrients.
As soon as the plants are bigger and it is warm outside, you can sow them in the garden about 20 centimeters apart.

Planting basil on the balcony and in the garden

Basilikum pflanzen: im Garten, auf dem Balkon und auf dem Fensterbrett

Basil is an annual plant, because it does not tolerate frost and does not make it through the winter. Therefore, you must either sow basil in the garden every year or plant it in flower boxes – this also works on the balcony. Over the winter you can simply place the flower boxes inside on the windowsill. Also bring flower pots with basil indoors for wintering.

Whether in the garden or on the balcony, you should consider the following location requirements:

  • plenty of sun and warmth,
  • sheltered from the wind,
  • moist, water-permeable soil (avoid waterlogging at all costs!)
  • at least ten degrees Celsius throughout,
  • no frost.

Care basil: Fertilizing and pruning

Basilikum pflegen: Richtig schneiden

Three things are important when caring for basil:

Enough space: if you buy basil in the store, the plants are close together and therefore die quickly. In the garden and on the balcony you should not make this mistake and give the plants plenty of space. A distance of 20 centimeters between the plants is ideal. In a nutrient-rich soil, however, less distance is also possible.

Fertilize: To be able to harvest a lot of basil, you should fertilize your plants regularly. Coffee grounds, for example, are ideal, but so is other organic fertilizer.

Pruning: To encourage growth, you need to prune the plants. The right place is in the middle of a fork (see picture). New leaves will sprout there. In any case, you should prune the plant before flowers appear. Otherwise the plant will put all its energy into flowers instead of new leaves.

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By the way: If you prune the plants, you can also grow new plants from the cut stems. To do this, simply place the stems in a glass of water until roots form after about ten days. Then you can plant out the small basil.

Planting and caring for purchased basil

Basil from the supermarket is an easy start for your own basil, because the plants are already sprouted and fully developed. However, you should always go for organic basil to avoid synthetic pesticides.

To make sure you get the most out of your basil for as long as possible, we have two tips:

If you sow basil plants in flower pots/boxes with plenty of space and fresh, nutrient-rich soil, you will benefit from it for many years.
However, it is very susceptible to pests, especially in winter. Fungus gnats are especially common to cause problems.
When harvesting basil, you should never cut off individual leaves, but always whole shoots. This promotes growth and the stems also contain a lot of flavor.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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