You can grow so many plants from seed if you don’t want to buy a plant that’s already growing. It’s fun to watch them sprout from the dirt and become a plant from almost nothing! To grow basil from seed, there are 3 tricks (and patience) to get them from seed to a plant where you can use the leaves in your cooking!
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One of the best things about basil is that it can grow indoors year-round, so you can start these seeds at any time and have them live an indoor life. If you do want to plant this basil in an outdoor garden, start the seeds at least a month before the last frost indoors.
Grow Basil From Seed
So growing any plant from seed seems fairly straightforward. You start with a pot, soil, seeds, and water. Follow the instructions on the seed packet of how far down the seeds need to go in the soil. Water lightly, and wait for the seeds to sprout!
But to get these seeds to grow and thrive almost every time, there are a few tricks that make it easier and have them become beautiful, lush plants!
1. Use the Right Container
The biggest trick for how to grow basil from seed is to start with the right container you plant the seeds in. You want a small terracotta pot for these basil seeds to grow in. With this combination, you already have a head start on ensuring the basil seeds grow and stay alive.
Eventually, you’ll want to move the seedlings into a larger pot, but start small!
With the suggestion of a small terracotta plant to start basil from seed, that means no bigger than about 3 inches (7cm) height or width. This and using a terracotta pot both make it less likely for the seeds/roots to get root rot or drown in excess water. If you have a bigger pot, you might want to water more, and these are young plants. They don’t need that much water.
Using a terracotta pot means that excess water can both drain from the hole in the bottom and evaporate out of the sides. If you only have access to a plastic, you will have to really pay attention to watering because it takes longer for the water to drain out and more often the water will stay in the soil longer. Which will kill the basil seedlings by drowning them.
2. Water Requirements!
When just starting the seeds, water the soil until it’s wet to the touch and is draining through the bottom. Wait until the soil dries out to the touch until watering again.
Basil seeds are temperamental with water. It’s easy to kill basil seedlings with too much water or not enough. If you are using a terracotta pot, water when the soil is dry to the touch. Depending on how much sun and how warm it is, the time between watering and amount of water will change. If you are using a plastic pot, water less often than suggested below.
When the basil seeds are just starting, and you’re seeing tiny sprouts, only water near the roots, and just a small amount. They do not need all of the soil to be damp, this will drown them at the beginning. Think like an eye dropper or old dish soap bottle to water more precisely in the area and amount of water.
After they’ve grown for a few weeks, start watering them more, as more leaves grow and they get larger. Eventually, start watering the plants once the soil is try to the touch until water comes out of the hole at the bottom of the pot.
If you haven’t seen any basil leaves pop up after a week or 2 of trying to grow basil from seed, give it another watering.
The leaves will also tell you pretty easily if the seedlings haven’t been watered enough, like most plants do, with drooping and shriveling up leaves. You should be able to recover pretty easily if it hasn’t been too long by watering again!
Overwatering is a little bit harder to correct. The plants will start to look worse and the leaves might lighten in color a bit. The soil will also feel wet, even if you haven’t watered in a few days.
The best way to correct this is to take the plants and soil out of the pot, and transfer some dry (new) soil into the pot, and add the seeds with some of the wet soil back into the pot. This way you are literally removing some of the moisture. Do not water immediately after! This might be too much shock to the plants, but is your best bet if you have overwatered the plants.
Basil loves sunlight. It can do fine in a darker room (i.e. not much direct sunlight but still lit by natural light), but will do much better in a sunlit area, getting about 6 hours of sun a day.
When starting to grow basil from seed, leave the plants somewhere that is lit by sun, and gets a few hours of direct sunlight a day. Once the seeds have grown and have at least 2-4 small leaves on them, try to give these plants at least 4 hours with direct sun a day. They can also handle even longer periods of direct sunlight. This can help them grow faster.
Keep in mind, you will have to water more often if they are in a very sunny spot. They just won’t grow as well if they are not in a well lit space.
This isn’t necessarily a trick, but it does take a lot of patience to grow any plant from seed to be able to eat it! Wait until the plant is big enough to try taking leaves off. If you don’t wait, it might go into shock since it’s so young and trying to grow.
Note that even your tiny basil plant is susceptible to aphids. If you find that the leaves look weird, check for aphids. If you do have aphids, try to get them immediately because these plants are young and don’t have many other leaves to survive if they are hit hard. Spray the aphids with soapy water or find other tips in getting rid of aphids here!
These are just some of the tricks to grow basil from seed! If you follow these ideas you’ll have a much better chance of them growing and thriving. Looking for other herbs to grow? Read about rosemary and plants it grows well with!
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