How to Plant Basil From Seed


Basil produces flavorful leaves throughout the summer season. This annual herb grows well both indoors and out, in garden beds as well as in pots. The peppery flavor of basil is a result of the oils in the leaves. Basil thrives in a variety of soils and doesn't require many nutrients, as the nutrients actually decrease the amount of oil the leaves produce. Start basil from seed indoors four to six weeks before the last expected spring frost. Transplant the seedlings outdoors to the bed or to an indoor pot after frost danger is past.

Step 1

Fill a seed-starting tray with potting soil. Water the soil in the tray until it is evenly moist throughout.

Step 2

Sow basil seeds 1/4 inch deep. Space the seeds 2 inches apart in all directions.

Step 3

Cover the tray with plastic wrap, which retains the soil moisture during germination. Place the tray in a warm, 70 degrees F room until the seeds sprout, usually within seven to 10 days of sowing.

Step 4

Remove the plastic wrap once seedlings emerge. Place the basil in a warm, sunny window and water as necessary to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Step 5

Transplant the seedlings to their own 3-inch diameter pots once they grow their second set of leaves. Plant them in the new pots at the same depth they were growing at in the tray.

Tips and Warnings

  • Overwatering leads to a fungal disease called damping-off. Allow the soil surface to dry between waterings and do not transplant basil into cold soils to prevent this fungus.

Things You'll Need

  • Tray
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pots


  • Clemson University Extension: Basil
  • Ohio State University: Growing, Selecting and Using Basil
Keywords: planting basil seeds, herb seed sowing, growing basil plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.