Light Side of Health

Best Practices for Growing Basil + Shopping List

Growing your own herbs is such a fun process. It does take a little bit (more like a lot) of patience, but it’s so rewarding and produces such a great harvest in more ways than one.

Basil is one of my all-time favorite herbs. It goes great in so many different foods like sauces, pizza & cheese dishes. I love adding it to my Mediterranean-style egg scrambles. Below, I’ve put together some of the best practices to grow your own Basil plants indoors and outdoors. And I would love it if you shared your own stories, tips and tricks for growing basil in the comments below. Also, feel free to drop your questions in the comments or email me at [email protected].

And just a friendly reminder, herbs do take a little time to grow, but it is so worth the wait.

Tips For Growing Indoors

It is ideal to plant seeds in a biodegradable starter pot or container, a small pot where they can germinate and take root. You will also want to use good pot & seed starting soil. If you don’t know which one to use, it would be best to consult your local nursery or growing expert to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Begin by adding a good quality potting soil to your starter pots. Next, place your basil seeds on top of the soil about one-half inch apart. Then press lightly on the seeds, pressing them into the soil. Add an additional 1/4 inch (6mm) of soil over the top of the seeds.

I like to place about two to five seeds in each small starter pot (this varies on the size of the starter plant you have and not all seeds will germinate.)

Find a windowsill in your apartment or house that lets in a lot of sunlight. My apartment doesn’t get much sunlight, so I got a couple of LED Grow Lights to help out. You will want to give an initial thorough but gentle watering to get the seeds to germinate. Be sure also to do this throughout the germination process. Once the seeds have started to sprout, you will regularly check the soil moisture, only lightly watering or using a spray bottle to keep the soil wet when it seems to begin drying out.

When Basil is four to five inches tall or roots begin to show through the starter pot, you will want to transplant your Basil into either your indoor garden pot or outdoor area.

A quality four to six-inch deep pot is recommended for each or up to two basil plants. I have three six-inch basil pots for my basil collection because basil is one of my favorites! And you will want to spread out the plants a little, giving them room to breathe and grow!

To do this, fill the pot with your good quality soil and dig out a hole where you will be transplanting the basil with its roots and soil in-tacked. Before transplanting, lay down some herb fertilizer in your chosen spot. I use Jobe’s Organic Herb Granular Plant Food.

I simply place the whole starter pot in the hole in the larger pot. The containers are biodegradable, and I love them. If you use a regular small pot, you will want to gently remove soil, root, and plant from the starter pot and place them in the holes. After each has been transplanted, you may want to secure them with a small stake or stick.

From here on, you will want to give your basil plant good watering once a week. It’s a delicate balance… never let the soil fully dry out, but you want to water again only when the top layer is dry. In between weekly waterings, you can give your basil plants a few squirts of filtered water with a spray bottle if you want—most plants like a bit of humidity.

Here are a few extra tips:

  • Don’t plant your plants next to a heater or air conditioner
  • Fertilize them once a month
  • Try not to water your seedlings directly on top of the leaves but rather at the base, especially when they are young and fragile.

Tips For Growing Outdoors

If you are planting your herbs in your garden, plant them in a well-drained area that receives plenty of sunlight. Basil is an annual, and it will grow for up to one year. It is best to plant two weeks after the last frost or in Spring for outdoor use to get a maximum yield before winter. If you plan on growing outside, plan on replanting your basil in the springtime.


You can begin harvesting your basil as soon as it has at least six leaves. You will want to pluck your leaves from the top of the plant down. You only need to pull off the leaves, and there is no need to cut anything. Harvesting your leaves this way will allow for a bushy and abundant basil plant. Be sure not to pluck the leaves on the bottom stem.

Preparing & Storing

Basil is best when used right after harvesting. Personally, I would only cut what you plan on using that day. Just cut, clean, and gently dry it with a paper towel. If you plan to store your basil for later use, wrap it in a dry paper towel and place it in the refrigerator. It will last in the refrigerator for a few days.

Additional tips

  • Basil plants will grow great with the following: tomatoes, beans, beets, cabbage, eggplant, marigolds, oregano, potatoes, and asparagus.
  • Basil can grow with the following herbs: Chamomile, chives, and oregano.

Pest Control

If you see pests popping up in your indoor or outdoor herb garden here are a few ways to quickly take care of it:

Garlic Water Spray

Mosquito Bits (Granular)

Neem Oil (Bonide is my favorite line)

Recommended organic sprays from your local nursery

Download our basil shopping list here:

Basil Shopping List

Additional Resources

Chow Hound How To Harvest Basil: Prune It So It Keeps Growing All Season Long

Epic Gardening 8 Tips To Grow Basil

Farmers Almanac Growing Basil: How to Plant, Grow and Harvesting BasilGrowing My Own 

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