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How to Grow Basil From Seed? A Great Beginner’s Herb

How to grow basil from seed

Basil is a versatile herb that belongs to the mint family. It is often used in Italian cooking and it adds a distinct flavor to any dish that has it as its ingredient. Countries such as Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese also use basil as part of their cuisines. Although dried basil has its uses, nothing beats using fresh herbs in your meals. You can buy seedlings from a greenhouse if you like. However, you should know how to grow basil from seed.  If you want to learn how to experience fresh herbs year round, you should learn how to grow basil indoors. It is much more cost effective than buying from the store and it is simple to do!

Step 1: Choose your seeds

There are plenty of varieties of basil to choose from. The color and flavor differs from one to another, but this annual herb is relatively easy to grow. Some of the most popular varieties are lemon basil, Italian large leaf, Genovese, and purple leaf.

Lemon basil is so named because the plant itself is lemon scented. It adds a citrusy flavor to the dishes it is put in. The leaves can be used raw or cooked. They go well in vinegars and oils, marinades and dressings, and with poultry or fish.

Genovese basil is also known as sweet basil. It is a large-leafed plant that originated in Italy. Recipes that call for fresh, large leaves are a great use for this variety. For instance, caprese salad and pesto are delicious when made with Genovese basil.

A staple in Italian cooking, Italian large leaf basil is a hardy garden plant. Fresh leaves make an excellent addition to pesto, caprese salad, and tomato dishes. You can also add a leaf to a sandwich or a wrap.

Also known as opal basil, purple basil has a rich violet color. This leaf is best used fresh as it tends to turn black when cooked. It can also be used in vinegars and oils to create a basil-infused liquid that is great to use in your cooking.

Step 2: Prepare for planting

Basil does not require a significant amount of preparation to plant. First, make sure you have small pots or seedling planters. Fill them with nutritious soil. Plan out a location to keep them where they will be undisturbed. and have access to plenty of indirect sunlight. If you live in a more northern climate, you may want to invest in a growing light to give them that extra boost. 

If you live in a region with a cold climate, set the seeds first four to six weeks before the last frost. Basils thrive in warm climates, so it is recommended to first set the seeds indoors to avoid the seeds from getting damaged by the frost.

Although it is not necessary, it helps to soak basil seeds before planting. When you do this, you help the seed gain enough moisture to start germinating sooner rather than later. If you want to soak basil seeds before planting, it is best to let them soak overnight in warm water. Do not let them soak too long, however, or the seeds will drown.

Step 3: Plant your seeds

If you want to know how to grow basil from seed, you should read the instructions on the packet. There you will find important information such as the depth to plant each seed.

There are many methods for planting seeds in the cells. You can use your finger to dip a small hole in the soil. Then you add soil to fill the hole. Another way is to place the seeds on top of the soil and then add dirt on top to the required depth. Although you can plant just one seed per cell, if you are using older seeds it is probably better to add a few in case some do not sprout.

Now the seeds and soil require more water. One challenge you will experience when pouring water onto your seeds is that the water may overflow and wash your seeds away. A more effective method is to use a spray bottle to thoroughly mist the soil.

Step 4: Ready, set, grow

If you purchased a seedling starter from the store, add the dome securely to the top of the pods. If you have improvised with some items from home, then you could put plastic wrap over the top with a few small holes so it can breathe. Doing this keeps the moisture in so that you don’t need to water them every day.

The seeds need to be kept in a place where they will stay at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once they sprout, they should receive plenty of indirect sunlight. This is where a grow light may be helpful. When considering how to grow basil indoors, think of a place where pets and children will not bother the seedlings.

Your seeds should germinate within about five to ten days. Once you see a sprout, remove your plastic or dome. Then you will need to start misting them more regularly to maintain hydration.

Caring For Basil

Planting the basil plant is just the start, it is another thing when taking care of it. We want to ensure that your basil not only grows but also thrive to its best potential productivity.

You can begin transplanting the plants once two sets of leaves have formed. Basil can be planted in the garden or permanent garden pots. If you live in a cold climate, don’t transplant the basil when the frost is still around as basils cannot tolerate cold weather conditions. Transplant them once the sunny climate comes in. When planting the basil in the garden, give each basil at least 1 foot apart.

When watering the basil, make sure that you only water it enough to ake the soil damp and not soaked. Basils thrive in well-drained soils. Water them daily and it is recommended to do it in the morning so that has time to soak in and evaporate if there is excess water.

To maximize the growth rate and the flavor of basil it is advised to cut off flower heads. Flower heads will cause a slowed growth rate and a hormonal change in the basil which changes its flavor of the leaves.

Basil seedlings not growing?

There should be at least one sprout after about two weeks. If your basil seedlings not growing, there are a few variables that must be checked. 

Double-check the instructions on the packet. Perhaps you planted the seeds too deep. They likely should not have been put less than one-quarter of an inch below the soil. Look at a ruler to make sure your estimates were accurate.

Although the seeds do not need light to germinate, they need heat. It is possible that the location you selected is too cold. If possible, use a thermometer to check. Do not fret if you cannot find a spot that keeps them warm enough. You can purchase a seedling heating mat to place under the pots. This warms up the soil so that the seeds can grow.

Another consideration is that your seeds were too old. Seeds can last for some time before being used if they are kept in a cool, dry place. You may want to start again with new seeds.

How to grow basil from seed

Health Benefits

Basils are not only limited to bringing out flavor in cuisines, they also have health benefits. Basils can provide benefits when used as herbal medicine and as an essential oil. Basils were traditionally used to provide treatment to snake bites, colds, and inflammation in the nasal passages.

Other varieties of basil also offer a eugenol and limonene chemical nutrient. Both of these chemicals have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are helpful to your body, they remove any free radicals that negatively affect your body. Free radicals when built up can cause cell damage which later on causes some diseases. While it is true that the body can produce its own antioxidants, it still needs some help from outside sources, among which basil plants can provide.

In a study on holy basil, researches have found that this basil variety may help prevent some types of skin, liver, and lung cancers from developing. Holy basil contains phytochemicals which increase the body’s antioxidant activity.


When experimenting with how to grow basil from seed, a bit of preparation goes a long way. Basil is quite easy to care for as a plant and is a great way to get into keeping your own herbs. Even keeping a pot on a windowsill can provide a refreshing aroma to your house. You will appreciate having this hardy, tasty herb on hand for your cooking.

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