How to Take Care of an Indoor Basil Plant

Overview

Fresh basil is often deemed more pungent and flavorful than dried basil, and can add an exotic bite to your favorite recipe. Indoor herb gardening is perfect for those who don't have a yard or who want to grow herbs year-round, even when the outdoor weather won't permit. A basil plant can be started and grown successfully indoors with standard garden equipment available at most garden stores.

Step 1

Fill a standard 6-inch pot with a soil-less potting mix intended for houseplant usage, available from all nurseries and garden stores. Such mixes have excellent drainage, ideal for pots where collecting water can cause root rot in herbs.

Step 2

Plant the basil plant. If using seeds, bury one per pot 1/2 inch under the soil surface and keep moist with twice-daily waterings. The seeds will typically germinate within 14 days. If using a pre-started basil plant from a nursery, slip the plant out of its existing pot and bury it in your pot's soil-less mix. If growing a plant from a cutting, cut a 4-inch branch off an existing basil plant and place it in a cup of water until roots grow from the cut end. Insert the cutting into your soil-less potting mix.

Step 3

Provide the basil plant with light. Basil requires full sunshine for optimum growth. Place the pot near a window that receives direct sunlight. Alternatively, use fluorescent grow lights obtained from a garden store or nursery. Keep the lights on for 16 hours per day and suspended 2 to 3 inches from the top of the basil plant, adjusting as the plant grows.

Step 4

Water the basil plant. Basil plants thrive on lots of moisture but need time for their roots to dry. Water once the potting mix turns flaky or crumbly rather than moist and compact. Depending on your interior humidity levels, you may find yourself watering once every two days.

Step 5

Feed the basil plant. Use a standard liquid vegetable fertilizer with a nutrient ratio of 10-10-10. Apply according to the fertilizer's label, as specific strengths vary by product. Fertilizer helps ensure proper foliage production, which is critical for a foliar herb like basil.

Step 6

Pluck off any flowers that appear on your basil plant. Flowers exhaust the plant's energy supply. Removing them helps encourage lots of lush foliage growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant pot
  • Soil-less potting mix
  • Basil seeds, basil start or basil cutting
  • Grow lights (optional)
  • Liquid fertilizer

References

  • "Little Herb Gardens: Simple Secrets for Glorious Gardens--Indoors and Out"; Georgeanne Brennan, et al.; 2004
  • "The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs"; Lesley Bremness; 1994

Who Can Help

  • The Herb Society of America
Keywords: indoor herb garden, growing basil indoors, indoor basil plant

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.