How to Grow Basil and
Saving Your Own Basil Seeds

Learning how to grow basil is relatively easy.  First, you will need your favorite variety of basil seeds or for faster results you can start from basil seedlings.

There are over a 100 basil varieties in existence, but sweet basil is probably one of the most well known or common basil plants.

Learning important tips for growing basil as well as properly pruning basil will help to ensure an abundant basil harvest.

And learning how to grow basil will not only save you money, but will help to add more depth of flavor to many of your favorite dishes.  And you can harvest your own basil seeds at the end of the season.


How to Grow Basil

  • Growing basil in a hot and sunny location is key.  Basil needs six or more hours of direct sunlight in order to grow well. It's important to note that basil does not like or do well in cold weather.
  • Basil also prefers rich fertile soil as well as good soil drainage. Organic matter should be added to your soil and be sure to fertilize when needed.
  • Sprinkle basil seeds onto dampened soil and then gently press soil down with your hand. Then cover the seeds with about a quarter of an inch of rich soil. Seeds will germinate better if they are not planted too deeply into soil.
  • Spray your newly planted seeds with a fine mist of water to keep the soil moist so that the seeds will germinate. You must be careful to keep your soil moist at the beginning of growing basil or until seedlings appear - this is an important tip for "how to grow basil".
  • When your seedlings have 3 or more sets of leaves, it is time to space your plants to approx. 4 to 6 inches apart. If you need to transfer some seedlings to another pot or to your garden, make sure you remove the whole root system of the plant.
  • These are all very important tips on how to grow basil to ensure a good crop or harvest.

Harvesting and Pruning Basil

You can pick fresh young basil leaves whenever you desire or need to, although it is important to remove flowers as soon as buds appear to avoid bitter tasting basil leaves.

Before pruning basil, wait until your basil plant is about 6 inches in height.  You can then pinch off the tip of the plant right above a set of leaves.  Pruning basil or harvesting leaves from the top encourages the plant to grow from the sides and also encourages a bushier, thicker plant.

This will allow you to receive a continued supply of fresh basil leaves. Pruning basil back by half or more can also be done if you need a large amount of basil for like a pesto.  Generally, it will take about 2 to 3 weeks to grow back.

Storing basil in your refrigerator can cause leaves to turn black, so it is best to store your fresh basil by placing stems in a jar of water for a few days. Also, keep basil out of direct sunlight.

Popular Basil Varieties

Sweet Basil - the most popular or well known of all the basil varieties. It is the type of basil typically used in pesto and Italian tomato sauces.

Lemon Basil - this type of basil has a distinct lemony taste and aroma. Great for dishes that call for a citrus component.

Lime Basil - similar to lemon basil, but contains a tangy lime flavor and scent instead.

Cinnamon Basil - this unique type of basil has a cinnamon flavor as well as a cinnamon scent.

Purple Basil - this variety of basil has beautiful purple leaves instead of the typical green leaves. It can sometimes have a more pungent robust flavor, so you might want to use less.

Harvesting Basil Seeds

If you want to save seeds from your basil plants, you can let your basil plants flower. However, make sure to save basil seeds from your best plants.

Mature basil seeds are small, round, and black. It's also very important that your seeds are completely dry before storing them away for future plantings.

You can place your basil seeds in a dry spot for a day or two to ensure they are completely dry before storing them in a container or even in a dated envelope.


To get the most from your basil plants, you can allow flowering to begin at the last 6 weeks before the first projected frost.  This is how to grow basil the longest until the next season.

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