How to Care for Basil Plants at Home

Overview

Basil loves the great outdoors. It's also a versatile and adaptable plant that will thrive in the home when given a little thoughtful care. Those partial to this aromatic perennial love the convenience of growing it in the kitchen, where it's right at their fingertips when needed. Basil seedlings are readily available in gardening centers for spring planting. Since you're growing the plant indoors, seasonal conditions won't present an issue. You can often find small pots of this and other common kitchen herbs in your grocer's produce department throughout the year.

Step 1

Choose a pot with holes in or near the bottom to provide good drainage. Basil plants are susceptible to root rot, so they do not tolerate wet feet. Cover the bottom of the pot loosely with a layer of gravel or small stones.

Step 2

Pot the basil in a high-quality, nutrient-rich commercial soil. A pH level between 6.0 and 7.5 is preferred. Plant it at the same soil depth that it occupied in the growing container.

Step 3

Place the basil in a sunny windowsill, preferable with southern exposure. Basil grown in the home needs a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily. If this isn't possible, provide at least 10 hours of fluorescent lighting each day.

Step 4

Water your basil plant enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not so much that it's soggy or wet. Check the saucer under the pot about an hour after watering. Empty it promptly to that the pot isn't resting in water.

Step 5

Feed a slow-release organic fertilizer for house plants diluted to half-strength. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.

Step 6

Cut bloom spikes from your basil plant as they appear. Flowering takes a lot of energy on a plant's part and will reduce production of the flavorful leaves that you desire.

Step 7

Trim stems freely for your kitchen throughout the growing season. Make your cuts right above a pair of the lower leaves. This also serves to prune the plant, which will send up new shoots from any cut stems.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Gravel or small stones
  • Nutrient-rich potting soil
  • Slow-release organic fertilizer for house plants

References

  • Gardening Know How: Information on How to Grow Basil Indoors
  • Florida Gardener: Can You Imagine a Garden Without Basil?
  • Herb Gardening: Basil

Who Can Help

  • Basil Gardening: Growth and Care of Basil
Keywords: basil indoors, grow basil, homegrown basil

About this Author

Axl J. Amistaadt began as a part-time amateur freelance writer in 1985, turned professional in 2005, and became a full-time writer in 2007. Amistaadt’s major focus is publishing material for GardenGuides. Areas of expertise include home gardening, horticulture, alternative and home remedies, pets, wildlife, handcrafts, cooking, and juvenile science experiments.