Growing Basil

Ocimum basilicum : Lamiaceae / the mint family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
      P P              

(Best months for growing Basil in USA - Zone 5a regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • P = Sow seed
  • Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 18°C and 35°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 20 - 25 cm apart
  • Harvest in 10-12 weeks. Pick before flowering.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Tomato
  • A Basil plant
  • Basil flower

A frost tender low-growing herb. Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The plant tastes somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent sweet smell. There are many varieties including Thai, purple ruffles, and lemon.

In frost-free regions perennial basil varieties will survive for years and the bush will keep on getting bigger and bigger.

Can be grown inside in pots in winter. As the plant develops, pinch out the top to encourage bushy growth. Pick off the flowers to encourage more leaf growth.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Basil

Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. Tear rather than chop.
The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water.

Your comments and tips

20 Dec 08, Paul Lehmann (Australia - temperate climate)
Basil is very hard to start from seed but I have found if you have a seed sprouting set and put them in there, they will eventually shoot. Pick out each sprouted seed on a toothpick and place in a pot with wet soil sitting in a tray of water to keep the soil moist. The sprouted seed will take to the soil and you can water as needed.
01 Feb 09, Gail Lamb-Hale (Australia - temperate climate)
Paul thank you for your tip on basil I will give it a go as I have not had much joy in growing basil Korumburra can be a bit up and down in weather patterns
22 Mar 09, Mathew (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi all planted basil in half shade half sun so far grows average and plants are about 1 foot high after a month. Have been keeping well trimmed
20 Aug 09, Andris (Australia - temperate climate)
Paul, what are you talkinga about? 'Basil is very hard to start from seed'. Whatever! :). Just direct sow them any time in spring or summer. They come up very fast, often as fast as lettuce during the warmer 6 months of the year. Maybe we just have different perspectives of what is hard or maybe your seeds aren't that great... I have had the most luck with herb and vegetable seeds from the imported Italian and French brands, in particular Franchi Sementi (see The Italian Gardener website), Hortus/Orto, Vilmorin and PDF. The basil and other herbs I grow from them come up very well and quickly. Seriously try them. and the seed packs are very generous too. Basil packs tend to have around 5,000 seeds for the same price as 200 or 300 seed packs from local suppliers (Yates and internet based businesses).
02 Sep 09, Veros Hydros (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Hi Paul, like Andris I found that basil is very easy to sprout. I start mine indoors in a tray fille up with peat. Once they come up I cover the tray with a plastic bag to make a mini greenhouse. Once they are big enough I plant them at the foot of my tomato plants. Works a treat.
04 Sep 09, Andris (Australia - temperate climate)
The basil I sow in punnets in a mini greenhouse environment do come up even easier. But soiwng the seeds in their final location is easier work :). I find sprinkling some seeds around each tomato plant (i grow tomatoes in pots) keeps us easily supplied through the tomato season. In spring weather, direct sowed, they should probably come up in just over a week.
08 Nov 09, Jo-Anne (Australia - temperate climate)
My basil plants - in a very large pot - have developed clear/opaque marks in the leaves (if you put your finger under the leaf you can see through the clear section). I can't see any insects, otherwise they look lovely and green and growing well. The pot is elevated well ofr the ground. Can anyone help?
12 Nov 09, Bridget (Australia - temperate climate)
Can someone please help?? I have searched and searched the internet and i can not find anything even remotely similar to my problem! My newly bought and planted (about a month ago) basil is suddenly sprouting some very oddly shaped leaves. Instead of the normal shape the new growth is small, thickish and rubbery looking (like a succulent) and shovel head shaped and a bit lighter in colour. It is in a styrafoam rectangle planter box planted along side coriander & I have them in nearly full sun (under shade cloth and not in the late arvo) and is given a small drink every morning because its quite hot at the moment. When planted i used organic compost. I also spoke to the local nursery but they have never heard of this either... Has anyone come across this?? What is it? Can i still eat my basil?
18 May 10, John (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Throw it away, get some good compost and start again. It needs a lot of morning sun.
21 Nov 09, Damooo (Australia - temperate climate)
Is the basil you bought drafted basil? (Do you mean 'grafted'? ed.)
Showing 1 - 10 of 122 comments

Hi guys just wondering can you grow Basil all year round if I plant the basil in the ground when it cools down again for winter will it come back or should I keep it in pots in the winter months undercover and replant again in med September.

- Benjamin

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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