I love the scent of basil, that unmistakable herb of summer patio dinners with friends or that special someone. Lucky for us all, basil is relatively easy to grow all year ( and indoors during the colder months).
Sweet Genovese Basil is the variety I like to grow in my garden and patio containers, but there are many colourful varieties from which to choose: Dark Opal, Purple Ruffles, and Sacred basil, to name a few.
Here you can learn how to grow your very own basil indoors — from seed, hydroponically from scraps, from your aunt’s stem cuttings, or from the store — easily and consistently.
Depending on your goals and space, there are a variety of easy ways to grow herbs for year-round use and enjoyment.
Root Your Basil From Stem / Scraps
Ah yes, remember sticking a potato with a few supporting toothpicks and suspending the tuber above a jar, the bottom of the cut potato submerged in the water? Growing basil from a cut piece is nothing like that.
Basil is one of the easiest plants to propagate, root, and grow from a cutting of a basil stem. The hardest part is selecting the stem. Here’s how:
- Choose a stem of about 4 inches in length, with just a couple leaves (1 set + potentially the crown) at the top.
- Place the basil stem in water.
- Have patience. Watch the roots emerge. Two weeks or so later, transfer the basil plant into your garden or a decently sized pot of soil.
- Reap the rewards of unlimited basil.
Grow Some Basil Hydroponically (In Water)
Start From Seed & Seed Indoors
Basil is native to tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia, and accordingly, thrives in a warm, humid environment. Provide the right soil fertility and warmth, and your basil will also thrive.
Basil is easy to grow from seed; plant your seeds indoors while the weather outside is cold and wet, or keep your plants growing year round in the windowsill (somewhere warm, with at least four hours of sunlight a day), and keep the leaves misted.
The video below demonstrates how to separate and replant a clump of plants purchased at the store, and how to plant basil from seed. Year-round basil supply, here we come!
How to Plant Basil From Seed
- Sprinkle a spoonful of seeds over some good potting soil or compost mix.
- Water the top layer where you’ve sprinkled your basil seeds. Do not cover the seeds with soil; they require light to germinate.
- Cover the pot with a light-coloured plastic bag to help keep the humidity around the germinating seeds high, the soil warm, and to let light pass onto the seeds.
Choosing the Right Pot Size for Basil Varieties
All basil varieties will grow in containers that are the right size for the plant. Makes sense.
Choose smaller dwarf varieties for shallow window containers (try Purple Bush for a beautiful container herb garden).
If you prune your basil correctly, you can end up with a huge bush of sweet basil from one single plant. For this purpose, pick a larger 1.5 gallon pot if you have the space for it, in a sun room or patio.
An essential herb for cuisines around the world and a favourite pairing for tomatoes, basil is easy to grow indoors and will save you money not spent at the store.
What To Do With Basil:
- Pinch off individual leaves and add to salads, sandwiches and sauce.
- Make your own pesto.
- Make cuttings and give to friends and family.