How to Plant Basil in a Pot


Basil's many uses range seemingly endless, and include use as an ornamental shrub, culinary seasoning and condiment, according to Purdue University. Instead of growing basil directly in your garden, sow its seeds in a pot and keep the pot conveniently close to your kitchen for quick and easy access to this herb while you're preparing food that calls for its pungent flavors.

Step 1

Select a pot. The pot should hold a minimum of 1 gallon--bigger is better--and have drainage holes on its bottom end.

Step 2

Fill the pot with any standard potting soil mix, recommends Purdue University. If you don't have such a mix on hand, make your own by combining equal parts of garden topsoil, compost and sand. The combination of soil and compost makes an organic matter-rich mixture that basil plants love.

Step 3

Plant the basil seeds. Bury two to three seeds in the pot, spaced an equal distance from each other and approximately 1/4 inch below the soil surface, according to Clemson University.

Step 4

Water the soil surface twice daily or as required to keep the pot's soil moist. Clemson University says the basil will typically germinate within five to 10 days. Reduce watering once the seeds have sprouted, watering only when the soil surface is dry. Use enough moisture so that water drips out of the pot's drainage holes.

Step 5

Place the pot on a sunny windowsill. Basil plants require a minimum of 10 hours of sunlight daily, according to Purdue University.

Step 6

Thin out the seedlings once they're 2 to 3 inches tall. Remove all the plants except the strongest and most vigorous basil seedling.

Step 7

Fertilize the basil eight weeks after germination, suggests Clemson University. Apply a standard fertilizer labeled for use on houseplants, spreading it on the pot's soil surface according to its labeled guidelines, since potency varies by product. Avoid fertilizing again, as too much fertilizer decreases the basil's flavor and smell, according to Ohio State University.

Step 8

Pinch the ends of the basil plant as it grows. Use your forefinger and thumb and remove the growing tips of the basil's branches. This encourages a more lush and dense shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Potting mix
  • Basil seeds
  • Water
  • Houseplant fertilizer


  • "Your Backyard Herb Garden"; Miranda Smith; 1999
  • Purdue University: Basil
  • Purdue University: Growing Herbs
  • Clemson University: Basil
  • Ohio State University: Growing, Selecting and Using Basil
Keywords: growing basil, potted basil, raising potted basil

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.