How to Care for Basil Plants


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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Keep the basil plant in well-draining, moist soil, but do not saturate it.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Organic mulch
  • Clippers
  • Hose or power sprayer


  • National Gardening Association: Growing Basil
  • National Gardening Association: Plant Care Guides: Basil

Who Can Help

  • Florida Gardener: Year of the Basil
Keywords: how to care for basil, basil plants, growing plants

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. She has worked as an educator and now writes academic research content for EBSCO Publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.