Growing Basil: Planting and Harvesting

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Growing Basil Planting and Harvesting

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of those summer herbs that everyone seems to love.

A relative of mint, basil is especially delicious when used on top of fresh tomatoes, in pesto sauces, or with Italian or Thai recipes.

Fortunately, basil grows well in the garden with the correct growing conditions.

1. You can grow basil from seeds sown indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date.Plants that have been indoors should be allowed time to harden up outdoors. Gradually over a week or so, increase the amount of direct sunlight the plant receives, until it has acclimated itself to the new growing conditions.

2. Whether you’re starting basil from seeds or transplants,don’t plant this sun-loving herb until the daytime temperatures are consistently in the 70s, and evening temperatures stay above 50 degrees fahrenheit.

3. Basil grows best in full sun, where it receives six to eight hours of sunlight. In hot climates, the herb prefers a bit of afternoon shade. Plant basil in a rich, well-drained soil; mix compost, manure or worm castings into the soil before planting.  

Growing Basil keep your plants watered

4. This aromatic herb likes a moist, well-draining soil. Water at the plant base, and avoid wetting the foliage to reduce the chances of disease. Never let the plant stand in water in a saucer.

When transplanting basil from a container, use the Fiskars Big Grip transplanter to gently loosen the soil and prepare a spot for planting.

5. Avoid disturbing the roots, while transplanting basil. It’s best to plant on an overcast day to avoid transplant shock. 

Greek Columnar basil harvested with Fiskars Herb and Veggie Shears

Harvesting basil all summer helps shape the plant. It’s the perfect excuse for clipping some basil for a summer meal.

6. Cut the stem right above the next set of leaves; this will encourage bushier plants with more leaves, and prevent the basil from developing flowers and seeds. 

Above is Greek Columnar basil, which is being harvested with a Fiskars Herb and Veggie Shears. This tool provides a precise cut, and has a take-apart design that is easy for cleaning.

Basil comes in different cultivars and colors. Try something new this year! Here are five different basils to grow in the garden this year.