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How to Care for a Basil Plant

By Jenn Mercer ; Updated July 21, 2017
Basil Plants

Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow, whether in a pot or in the ground. The care for exotic varieties such as Thai, cinnamon, holy, purple, lemon or even spicy globe basil is the same. The mature size of each type of basil will vary, but most varieties will grow to 18 to 24 inches by the end of the season.

Hands holding basil plant

Keep your basil plant in a sunny spot in your garden. Move it inside to a sunny windowsill when the temperature gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering a garden

Water regularly, but do not allow the soil to remain saturated. Repot or transplant if the soil is not well-draining.


Fertilize 1 to 2 times a month with a liquid plant fertilizer. Any well-balanced fertilizer will do, but avoid those designed to increase blooming.

Top of Basil Plants

Trim often by pinching center leaves. This will not only give you a tasty addition to your recipes, but it will also help your plant to stay productive longer.

Basil sprig and leaves

Remove any flower stalks. Once basil starts to bloom it will put all of its energy into flowering instead of growing leaves.

Woman watering a garden

Remove aphids with insecticidal soap, manually or with a blast of water.

Basil in a box

Water when the soil is dry. Basil, like many herbs, prefers conditions on the dry side.


About the Author


Jenn Mercer is a Writer, Poet, and Translator (French > English) living in Raleigh, NC. She has Bachelors degrees in both English (Creative Writing) and French from NC State University. Mercer has been published in the Grapevine, Astropoetica, Talkin Blues, Nth Degree, the CATI Quarterly, The Fix, and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader for Kids.