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Basil Plant Dying Outdoors? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 12:21 pm

You could have thought it was too good to be true when your Basil began productivity weeks after propagation.

That thought, though, could have begun to fade off as the leaves of Basil continue to spread to your admiration and satisfaction. Now, how disappointing it is to see your Basil dying right outside!

It is so disheartening to see steady growth and productive Basil taking a turn for the worse as it begins to decline in health.

Even worse, the plant was placed in the best conceivable position outside and given all the care and attention required.

Several factors cause the Basil plant to die outdoors. However, there are a few most common factors.

The plant dying outdoors could be due to them lacking enough root space, the cultivator overwatering them, suffering from nutrient deficiency, inadequate pruning, and unbalanced temperature.

Let us now treat what could cause such unusual phenomena as we discuss Basil and its outdoor relationship.

Are Basil Good Outdoor Plants?

Basil, a favorite world herb, actually originates from tropical and less humid regions like sub-Saharan Africa and India.

In this region, it is not uncommon to see Basil growing freely, reseeding itself annually, and sometimes increasing into medium-sized shrubs.

So, yes, Basil is an excellent outdoor plant.

There is a famous saying that ‘all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. The same is usually true of Basil.

They are tropical/summer plants, do not necessarily mean it is all sun and heat for Basil. No! Rather.

Basil also benefits from a mild, cool night temperature in the tropics or during summer, a Thermo period that enables Basil to produce its highly flavored and aromatic oil.

This occurrence is a unique experience not so enjoyed by indoor Basil. That is why Basil, grown outdoors, comes off a little more fragrant than indoor Basil.

Basil is not a woody plant. The reason is that no secondary growth occurs in Basil, and as a result, a lot of water is unused in the stems of Basil and needs to be excreted.

Basil grown outdoors quickly disposes of such water by interacting with the naturally balanced atmosphere and transpires rapidly through the leaves.

True, this also happens with indoor Basil. However, the conditions are more favorable outdoors. That is why you seldom see drooping Basil outdoors!

What are the Reasons for the Basil Plant Dying Outdoors?

Growing Basil out of doors is very advantageous. Still, that does not confer immunity on the Basil plant.

Basil plants generally are not prone to many attacks but are susceptible to a few from pests, disease, and even mal-handling.

Also, Basil does not hesitate to show signs indicating a deviation from normalcy, and outdoor Basil is no exception.

The effects are sometimes relatively rapid in outdoor Basil since they undergo much more stress.

Here are some reasons why the Basil plant is dying outdoors.

1. Lack of Root Space

Many outdoor Basil is grown as potted herbs. In some cases, such Basil plants begin to die after growing extensively for a while.

This is because as Basil leaves grow above, the roots also grow and expand below.

When the growth of the roots becomes restricted due to lack of space, the available root strands slowly become incapable of catering to the needs of the growing plant.

This occurrence could cause the plant to start dying.

2. Overwatering

Basil grew outdoors and often shared their soil water with the atmosphere when evaporation occurs.

In mind, some cultivators always saturate Basil roots with water so that the soil always has enough moisture despite evaporation.

In reality, though, the amount of water evaporated from the ground is usually negligible.

So, saturating basil roots with water does not protect but exposes them to harm by encouraging fungal root rot, which could lead to the death of Basil.

3. Inadequate Pruning

In the life cycle of Basil, it produces after leaves. Basil ought to flower, produce seeds and then die. Regularly pruning your Basil and harvesting the leaves on time could delay these final stages.

This delay ends up preventing it from flowering. If pruning is delayed in Basil, the plant will flower, and the leaves will start to curl, marking the beginning of a natural process of death in Basil.

4. Imbalanced Temperature:

Basil is very sensitive to temperature change, especially a drop in temperature. Basil will experience a decline in health and begin to die with the approach of winter and frost.

Still, even though Basil is a sun and heat-loving plant.

It also requires periodic cool temperatures to thrive. So keeping Basil sun-dried and heated all day round could also initiate death in Basil.

5. Nutrient Deficiency

Basil rapidly uses up soil nutrients to carry out life processes to keep growing and increasing productivity. In time, the nutrients in the soil become used up.

If not supplemented, Basil begins to die in soil lacking nutrients even if it is situated outside!

6. Excessive Fertilization and Salt Build-up

When the nutrient is deficient in Basil, we sometimes supplement soil nutrients using synthetic and inorganic fertilizers.

After the plant uses the necessary elements from the applied fertilizer, mineral salt residues are left in the soil.

Consistent use of fertilizer on Basil could lead to the accumulation of these mineral salts in the soil, causing harm to Basil.

Other factors that could cause Basil to start dying outdoors include; Pest Infestation, Disease, a High Amount of Moisture in the Atmosphere, and Exposure to Carbon Monoxide (CO) from Fumes.

How Do You Keep Basil Alive Outside?

It is often believed that identifying a problem is part of the solution.

Thus far, we have seen that Basil dying outdoors is not just ill luck but a product of shortcomings in Basil’s desired growth condition.

Keeping alive could mean maintaining the proper growth conditions. How can you do this?

You can keep Basil alive by doing the following;
1. Ensure that the moisture content in the soil is adequate, i.e., not too much and not too little.
2. Look out for early signs of stress in Basil, such as curry leaves, and try relieving plant stress by changing sunny positions to shady ones.
3. Use a proper-sized soil pot when growing Basil in a pot.
4. Look out for pests and remove them or use pesticides, applying them at room temperatures.
5. Prune the leaves of Basil regularly but not excessively.
6. Always flush away the salt residue in the soil using running water in good draining soil.
7. Use organic or compost manure to improve soil nutrients.
8. Mulch the soil to reduce evaporation.

How to Save a Dying Basil Plant?

With unfavorable conditions, Basil quickly begins to die. Yet, this process can not only be halted but also reversed.

You can start to save dying basil plants by balancing the moisture content of the soil. If water is excess, drain it, allow the soil pot to dry appropriately, and resume watering correctly.

If your basil plant has flowered, nip off the flowering part, the purple flower at the top of the plant, and its accompanying leaves.

For colder temperatures, Basil can be saved by moving it indoors and providing artificial lighting while indoors.

In some cases, it becomes necessary to transplant the Basil to a more prosperous and better-draining soil. Doing these will help in saving your Basil.


Growing Basil outdoors helps reduce the critical attention of cultivators compared to growing them indoors or in a greenhouse.

In addition, outdoor Basil interacts better with a natural atmosphere to produce more flavored foliage.

Still, outdoor Basil could start dying. This death could be caused by numerous reasons, as explained above.

Yet, dying Basil can be restored to total health if only we put in a little more effort!


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