How to Grow Basil: The King of Herbs

Basil, the King of Herbs, perfumes long, languid days with its unmistakable sweet anise aromas. Lore says one whiff inspires true love, but most likely it sparks irresistible cravings for pesto and other seasonal fare

Basil grows so well in South Africa
Basil grows so well in South Africa

Easy to grow in containers, raised beds and even hanging baskets, this versatile herb is at home in edible landscapes too, where its gleaming foliage in shades of green and purple and bi-color edible flowers hold their own with showy ornamentals. 

How to Grow Basil 101

How to Grow Basil:

  • Plant heat-loving basils where they can soak up the sun all day long. Best time is late spring or early summer when night-time temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit and soil has warmed.
  • Good drainage and air circulation are essential to prevent root rot and fungal diseases. Add a mix of ½ organic potting soil and ½ perlite to garden soil when planting in the ground. Dig planting holes three times larger than the root ball.
  • In containers, plant in a mix of 2/3 organic potting soil and 1/3 perlite.
  • Basils thrive on the dry side. Water well when planting then allow to dry out moderately before watering again. Never let soil dry completely, causing the plant to wilt.
  • To encourage plants to branch, pinch or cut stems just above a set of leaves.
  • Pinch off flower buds of basils grown as annuals to prolong the season and sustain maximum leaf flavor. Toss the edible buds into salads for a burst of basil flavor.
  • Pick leaves regularly to maintain plant vigor. Harvest any time of day without impacting flavor. Always leave enough leaves to cover at least 1/3 of the plant.