How to Plant Basil Leaves


Basil is an annual herb commonly used in pasta sauces and to flavor Mediterranean dishes. Reaching 12 to 30 inches tall, the green-leafed sweet basil variety is the most flavorful and fragrant. Pinch a leaf to smell the fragrance. Smaller, less flavorful varieties, such as Red Rubin, reach 6 to 12 inches in height and do well in planters or as a border where its purple leaves will contrast with colorful flowers. Plant basil outdoors from seed or seedling after the last frost.

Step 1

Select a sunny, well-drained location to plant basil from seeds or seedlings in late spring.

Step 2

Till the soil to at least 8 inches to allow for root penetration.

Step 3

Drop 2 or 3 seeds every 12 inches and pat them into the soil. Only a small layer of soil, about 1/8 inch, needs to cover the seed. If planting a seedling, use a hand trowel or your fingers to create an opening in the soil the same size as the seedling. The soil level of the seedling should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch below ground level. Gently push the soil around the stem of the seedling.

Step 4

Keep the soil moist. Water seeds lightly each day until they have two leaves, then decrease watering for the seedlings to an as-needed basis, which may be once or twice a week when the soil is dry more than 1 inch down.

Step 5

Apply 1 to 2 inches of mulch, such as pine chips, to cover the disturbed soil. Mulch retains moisture and deters weed growth. Keep the mulch 2 inches away from the stems of the plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel or rototiller
  • Mulch


  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing, Selecting and Using Basil
  • Colorado State University Extension: Growing Basil
Keywords: grow basil, planting herbs, herb gardening

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas is a certified e-learning specialist and certified Microsoft Office specialist. She has written web content, technical documents and course material for a decade. Raskauskas now writes how-to's, product reviews and general topics published on several websites, including Demand Studios.