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Growing Basil In Water? (11 Pro Tips)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 01:19 pm

The importance of herbs keeps increasing every day. From being used to make our homes smell better to being added to our food.

Due to the need for spices, they are becoming quite expensive to attain. However, herbs are cheaper when grown at home.

Furthermore, some of these homegrown herbs can be grown in water too.

Therefore, you’ll need some pro tips for growing basil in water. These tips are essential to growing basil in water. They include; choosing suitable cuttings, properly preparing the cuttings, providing adequate sunlight, applying fertilizer, and a few others. Let’s now go into this.

Can Basil Grow in Water without Soil?

Basils are constantly thirsty plants. They need a stable supply of water to grow efficiently. Plants such as basils, thyme, rosemary, and mint require a lot of water.

Can basils grow in water without soil? Yes, you can cultivate basils in only water without soil.

Most basil growers like to plant their basil in water indoors and then transplant it into soil outdoors or on a pot indoors.

Nevertheless, you can grow your basil in water from the beginning till it’s ready for harvest. If you are planting your basil in only water, be prepared to provide it with all it needs for healthy growth.

Planting basil in water requires utmost care.

Growing and caring for basil Plant in water

Basils are very tender plants. They require a lot of care and soft handling, significantly if you’re growing them in water.

Here are 11 tips to help you grow your basil correctly and take good care of it to get good basil leaves.

1. Selecting the cuttings

Basil seeds can’t grow without soil. This is why you grow basils in the water; you must grow them from cuttings. You can cut a branch from another basil plant as your cutting.

First, make sure that the branch is healthy-looking and young. If you aren’t confident in your ability to cut, you can buy a cut from a nearby nursery store.

2. Making the cuttings

If you are making a cutting, you must note a few things. They include:
1. The cuttings should be about four to six inches in length.
2. It would be best if you cut at an angle. Preferably directly below a leave node.
3. Pick the cut from the bottom of the stem.

3. Preparation of the cutting

You should know that the branch used to make the cutting will develop into a stem. Remove all the leaves at the lower part of the stem. Also, remove flowers and leaves that are too large.

While removing unwanted parts of the branch, be extremely careful. The branch is still young and thus fragile.

After removing certain parts, leave about two or three sets of leaves.

4. Type of jar

It is advisable to use a transparent jar when planting basil in water. Using a transparent jar enables you to see the development of your plant. Glass jars are the most popular jars used for planting basil.

Also, ensure that your jar has a lot of space. Your basil will need much of that to develop a sound root system in the water.

5. Filling water

When filling the jar with water, submerge two-thirds of the plant. Make sure no leaves are above the water. In addition, do not use chlorinated water.

Mix every liter of water with a balanced fertilizer such as NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium), having 20:20:20.

6. Sunlight

Basils need two significant factors to thrive. These factors are moisture and sunlight. Now that the humidity has been provided, you must ensure your basil gets adequate sun.

Basils need about five-six hours of sunlight daily. You can provide this by positioning the jar at a spot where enough sunlight gets in, for example, close to a window.

7. Care

To prevent the growth of algae and bacteria in the jar, change the water frequently. It can be after every week or after every two weeks.

Also, make sure the water is not too cold or too hot. The temperature of water depends on the temperature of the environment.

Therefore, ensure you place the plant in an environment at room temperature, that is, 20°C-25°C

If you want to transfer your basil plant to the soil, ensure the roots are at least two to three inches long.

8. Fertilizer

Apply a standard amount of fertilizer to the plant when due. Since your basil isn’t growing in the soil, it can’t access natural soil nutrients on its own.

It is your responsibility to ‘feed’ your basil. You can fertilize your basil once every two to three weeks. Fertilizing is very important if you are planting your basil in only water.

9. Imitate a natural habitat

Even though you are planting your basil indoors, try as much to imitate a natural habitat. You can do this by providing the plant with enough sunlight and air.

Naturally, plants get to experience the cool breeze when they are outside. You can imitate this by making use of an electrical fan.

Turn on the fan and set it to rotate at the lowest speed. Strong wind may cause the plant to break. Direct the fan towards the plant and let it run for two hours.

This action prevents the air around the plant from getting too stagnant. Thus, the artificial breeze created works as well as a natural breeze.

10. Artificial light source

Sometimes, you may be unable to provide your basil with enough sunlight. This situation is where artificial lights specially designed for plants come in.

You can use high-intensity lights or fluorescent lights. You can use standard fluorescent lights, high output, and compact fluorescent lamps.

For traditional fluorescent lights, you should place them about two inches above the plant. Place them one foot above the plant for the high output and compact fluorescent lights.

Keep high-intensity lights about two-four feet high from the top of the plant.

11. Harvesting

You can pluck leaves once the plant develops roots. It usually takes approximately two weeks for the basil to develop roots.

Pick as many leaves as you can during the plant’s growing season. Plucking leaves encourages the plant to produce more. Though you are expected to pick lots of leaves, don’t pick all.

Leave enough leaves for the plant to be able to photosynthesize. It is advisable to start harvesting your basil leaves before the plant begins flowering.

The reason is that once the plant starts flowering, it directs most of its energy toward producing flowers.

Therefore, basil will make more flowers than leaves.

Also, basil leaves get bitter when the plant is flowering. You don’t want to have a bitter salad, do you? When harvesting basil, cut from the point above where two leaves meet.

If you cut the part of the stem just below a pair of leaves, that part of the plant may not grow again. It will not produce more leaves.

Pick new leaves from the top of the plant to encourage the growth of more leaves.

How do you keep basil alive in water?

Basil’s quickly die off if one isn’t careful with them, mainly grown in water.

However, you can still do some things to ensure your basil stays strong and healthy while growing in water. 

Some of these things include; providing clean water for the basil every few weeks, applying fertilizer when due, making sure your basil gets enough air and sunlight, and paying detailed attention to the plant to check for discoloration or chlorosis.

Carrying out these actions that have been mentioned helps you keep your basil alive in the water.

They don’t only keep the basil alive but make sure it stays healthy and produces healthy leaves.


Due to specific reasons and factors, many people prefer to grow their basil indoors. Not just indoors but in water too. It could be for home decoration, fragrance, or quick meals.

Growing basil indoors gives you the same quality you will get if you grow your basil outdoors.

But to get this quality, you must follow specific instructions from beginning to harvesting.

That’s how to get good basil grown in water.

Basils and a few herbs can be grown in water only, without soil. So you need to make sure you provide all that is required.

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