Basil is a versatile and flavorful herb that can be used in a variety of dishes, from pasta sauces to soups and salads.
While it’s easy to find fresh basil in grocery stores, growing your own basil plant at home can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enjoy this fragrant herb.
In this article, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of growing basil from the store. We’ll cover everything from selecting the right plants to caring for them and harvesting your own fresh basil leaves. So, let’s get started.
Choosing the Right Basil Plant from the Store
Choosing the right basil plant from the store is an important first step in successfully growing basil at home.
Here are a few things to look for when selecting a basil plant:
Healthy leaves: Choose a basil plant with bright green leaves that are free from any brown spots or discoloration.
Fullness: Look for a basil plant that is full and bushy, with multiple stems and lots of leaves.
Size: Select a basil plant that is not too big or too small for your space. If you plan to grow it in a pot, make sure it will fit comfortably and have room to grow.
Fragrance: Give the basil plant a gentle rub to release its fragrance. Choose a plant with a strong, sweet aroma.
Which type of basil should you choose?
When it comes to choosing which type of basil to grow, there are several varieties to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and appearance.
Here are a few popular types of basil to consider:
Sweet Basil: This is the most common type of basil, with large, bright green leaves and a sweet, slightly spicy flavor. It’s great for use in a variety of dishes, including salads, pastas, and pizzas.
Thai Basil: This variety has smaller leaves and a slightly more pungent flavor than sweet basil. It’s often used in Thai cuisine, as well as in soups, curries, and stir-fries.
Lemon Basil: As the name suggests, this type of basil has a subtle lemon flavor and aroma. It’s great for use in salads, marinades, and desserts.
Purple Basil: This variety has dark purple leaves and a milder flavor than sweet basil. It’s often used as a garnish or to add color to dishes.
Ultimately, the type of basil you choose will depend on your personal preferences and intended use.
Consider trying a few different types to discover your favorite flavor and aroma.
Preparing to Grow Basil from the Store
Choosing the Right Pot for Your Basil Plant
Choosing the right pot for your basil plant is an important step in ensuring its health and growth.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting a pot for your basil plant:
Size: Choose a pot that is appropriate for the size of your basil plant. If you’re transplanting a small basil plant, start with a pot that’s about 6-8 inches in diameter. A larger plant will require a bigger pot.
Drainage: Make sure the pot you choose has drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to escape. This helps prevent root rot and other issues caused by overwatering.
Material: Choose a pot made from a material that will help regulate the soil temperature and allow for proper air circulation. Clay and terracotta pots are great options, as are plastic pots with drainage holes.
Style: Consider the style and aesthetic of the pot, as it will be a visible part of your garden or indoor space. Choose a pot that complements your décor and personal style.
How to Prepare the Soil for Planting
Preparing the soil for planting is an important step in ensuring the health and growth of your basil plant. Here’s how to prepare the soil:
Choose the right soil: Basil prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Use a high-quality potting mix that contains perlite or vermiculite for good drainage.
Add compost: Mix in some compost to enrich the soil and provide essential nutrients for the basil plant.
Check the pH: Basil prefers a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Use a soil test kit to check the pH of your soil and make any necessary adjustments.
Prepare the pot: Fill the pot with soil, leaving about 1-2 inches of space at the top. Lightly tamp down the soil to remove any air pockets.
Plant the basil: Gently remove the basil plant from its container and loosen the roots. Place it in the center of the pot and cover the roots with soil. Press down lightly to secure the plant.
Water thoroughly: Give the newly planted basil a good watering to settle the soil and help the roots establish themselves.
Caring for Your Basil Plant
Caring for your basil plant is important to ensure its growth and health.
Here are a few tips for caring for your basil plant:
Watering: Basil needs regular watering, but overwatering can lead to root rot. Water the plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch, and make sure the pot has good drainage to prevent water from pooling.
Sunlight: Basil thrives in full sunlight, so make sure your plant is in a sunny spot. If you’re growing your basil indoors, place it near a window that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Fertilizing: Basil benefits from regular fertilizing. Use a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season to provide essential nutrients.
Pruning: Regular pruning helps keep your basil plant bushy and encourages new growth. Pinch off the tips of the branches every few weeks to promote branching and prevent the plant from becoming too leggy.
Harvesting: Basil leaves can be harvested as soon as the plant has enough foliage to support growth. Regular harvesting promotes new growth and helps keep the plant healthy.
Pests: Keep an eye out for common basil pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. If you notice any pests, treat the plant with a mild insecticide or remove the affected leaves.
Q: How long does it take for basil to grow?
A: Basil plants typically take 4-6 weeks to grow from a seedling to a mature plant.
Q: Can you grow basil from cuttings?
A: Yes, you can grow basil from cuttings by rooting the stem in water or soil.
Q: How do you prevent your basil plant from flowering?
A: To prevent your basil plant from flowering, it’s important to pinch back the stem tips regularly.
When a basil plant starts to flower, it redirects its energy from leaf growth to flower and seed production.
By regularly removing the top few sets of leaves, you can encourage the plant to focus on growing more leaves rather than flowers.
Q: Can you grow basil from seeds?
A: Yes, you can grow basil from seeds. Simply plant the seeds in well-draining soil and keep them moist until they germinate.
It’s important to keep the soil warm and provide adequate light for the seeds to grow.