Basil is a herb plant from the mint family that originated in southern Asia and the south pacific islands. This herb is common because you can use it in your food, especially Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Besides its flavor, the basil herb is easy to grow and a great addition to your garden. But, just like any other plant that is easy to grow, you must provide it with good conditions to mature. You can plant it in your garden in a container or on the ground. Basil is a spring plant that requires enough sunlight to produce green, sweet leaves.
So, how do you keep basil growing all year round? It is easy to take care of your plant and provide it with favorable growing conditions such as enough sunlight, water, and fertilizer. Don’t forget to prune the leaves to reduce overcrowding.
Below are different ways you follow to keep basil growing throughout the year.
How to keep basil growing
Often people prefer to plant basil outdoor in the garden when the spring threat has passed, but forget that they can plant it indoors in a container at any time of the year. Whether you plant it indoors or outdoors, you will likely face the same challenges of growing it until the season passes.
These challenges are not new to gardeners and apply to almost all plants. So, if you are a good gardener, then you won’t have a problem knowing how to keep your basil growing.
Trim the leaves
Trimming is important for the growth of basil plants. It involves removing some grown leaves. It is like harvesting, but you are helping the basil plant grow more leaves in this case.
For young basil that has started growing, to ensure it grows leaves fast, start harvesting the leaves early. When removing the leaves, try harvesting at least twenty percent of the leaves and leaving a few for photosynthesis. Otherwise, the plant will die.
The same process applies when the plant has grown. Don’t leave the plant till harvesting time, and you can start harvesting leaves early on and continue removing some leaves every week or two through the season.
How do you know basil is mature? Once your basil matures, it will start forming flower buds. It’s time to prune the flowers. Once it puts its energy into creating flowers and seeds, the flavor of basil leaves changes.
Provide it with enough sunlight
To keep your basil growing, you must provide it with enough sunlight. It doesn’t need too much or too little sunlight. The concentration should be enough to ensure proper growth.
For plants, it’s easy to know when you are giving them little or too much sunlight. The best temperature should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the same as the summer temperatures. Place it in an area with six to eight hours of direct sunlight.
For those that have indoor plants, you can place them on a window facing the south or west direction where they get exposure to direct sunlight. These areas should be receiving the sun for most parts of the day.
Ideally, the plant like sunlight, but there is an amount of sunlight that can kill it, especially in the scorching sun in the summer. Once the temperatures increase, the sun will burn the leaves. When this happens, move the plant to a shade or cover to protect it from the sun.
On the other hand, if you have a problem with low light, you can notice your basil plant will have leggy growth and small leaves. The lack of sunlight causes the plant to give its chlorophyll to the leaves so that it can continue to make food, thus the leggy growth. If it continues to lack sunlight, the leaves will turn yellow, lower leaves turn brown, leaves start to drop, and then the basil plant dies.
If you don’t have access to sunlight, you can use indirect lighting systems to provide your plant with light.
Remove it from cold areas.
To keep growing your basil plant, remove it from an area with cold temperatures. Temperature drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit causes stress to your plant.
If you have an indoor plant, you are likely not to have a problem with cold temperatures; however, for outdoor plants, the temperature drop can affect it unless you move it to a warm room.
Avoid watering the plant when temperatures drop because it has reduced its normal processes. When it stops its processes, it doesn’t need more water; if you continue to water it, it can result in overwatering.
Provide it with enough water
When the plant is growing, it requires enough water to ensure it makes enough food. The water you provide the plant should be enough, not too little or too much, or it can adversely affect the growing plant.
The best way to water a plant is to give it water until the soil is moist. If you have overwatered, you will see stagnant water on the soil. You can use your finger to check whether it is moist or dry.
Overwatering is a common problem among gardeners, especially those who use sprinklers in their gardens. I am not saying it’s bad to use a sprinkler, but with this, you can’t control the amount of water your plant takes in.
Because basil likes the sun, it also needs constant watering, yet, its roots can’t survive with too much water in the soil. So, how do you solve this?
The solution is to have well-draining soil. Well-draining soil ensures that it has big gaps for the water to flow without interfering with air flow to the roots, while poor-draining soil has small gaps that the water fills up, preventing airflow and causing stress to the root.
If you have soil in a pot, always put drainage holes at the bottom and sides to drain off excess water and air circulation in the soil. This ensures that your plant roots receive enough water to continue growing without stress.
Under-watering is not a common problem, but it usually happens because people don’t know how to approximate the amount of water to give to their plants. If you have under-watered your plant, you can notice when the leaves start to wilt and dry. The leaves will turn brown and become crispy.
If this has happened to your plant, remove it from direct sunlight and start to water it until the leaves turn green; then, you can return it to direct sunlight and normal care routine.
Provide it with enough spacing
Basil doesn’t like stress with fighting for food with other plants. That happens when plants are close to each other without enough space. The best space for a basil plant should be 12 inches apart.
You can remove extra plants around the pot and leave only the strong and healthy plants, but ensure they have spaces between each other.
Spray with insecticides and pesticides
Spraying insecticides and pesticides is another way to keep your basil plant growing. Spraying the plants ensures that no pests or insects can cause diseases or eat the leaves. You can use liquid seaweed to keep away pests from the plant.
Fertilize the soil
Fertilizing your plant at the start of the season is important since it provides the soil with the necessary nutrients. However, if you have an indoor basil plant, you can fertilize it once a month to maintain the required nutrients.
You can use fertilizers such as compost tea, which release nutrients into the soil. Use this fertilizer when temperatures exceed 60 degrees F/ 16 degrees C.
How long does basil live?
Basil grows depending on the growing conditions and how you take care of it. It can survive for two years in the proper conditions. You cannot replant it once it dies.
The secret to keeping basil for a long time is to keep it away from cold temperatures and ensure it’s warm throughout the year.
Understanding your basil plant can help you know how to keep it growing even when it is about to die. Since the growth is most seen on the leaves, try to keep them in good condition. That means you must be keen and regularly check for changes in flowers or stems.
By now, you should know how to keep your basil growing. With this help, you can enjoy the herb and get a good flavor through its growing period without a change in taste.