Basil is a staple in Italian cooking and a favorite herb in most kitchen gardens. Easy to grow indoors or outdoors, basil is best used fresh, but it can be frozen or dried. This versatile, indispensable herb comes in many varieties, including the Thai basil, lemon basil and purple basil. Whether planted in the soil or in a container, the care of this fragrant, heat-loving herb is the same, regardless of the variety.
Expose the basil plant to at least six hours of sunlight each day, as it thrives in the warmth of the sun and can die even in a mild frost.
Keep the basil plant in well-draining, moist soil, but do not saturate it.
Add 2 inches of organic mulch (3 inches if you have a variety that grows 2 feet tall) around the basil plant to inhibit weed growth and retain warmth and moisture in the soil, especially if the plant is outdoors.
Pinch off the center leaves of the plant to encourage the basil plant to grow bushy side leaves rather than flower stalks. Clip off any flowers that develop.
Rinse off any chewing bugs, such as aphids, with a strong stream of water as soon as possible. Dig up the plant and surrounding soil and dispose of both if the basil plant develops dark steaks on the stems. These are symptoms of Fusarium wilt, which cannot be cured.