A basil plant can survive when planted indoors with the right conditions as it can survive when buried in the earth outside.
However, there are several things you need to know when growing basil indoors. Basils are herbs that thrive in plant pots.
Growing basil indoors has a lot of requirements. Some tips to follow when planting basil indoors are; use viable seeds, plant seeds in suitable soil, ensure the plant gets enough water and enough sunlight, apply quality fertilizer, and a few more.
How to Grow Basil Indoors?
Basils are trendy herbs. We can use a basil plant in so many ways. This event makes the demand for basils relatively high.
As a result, people have resorted to planting basils at home. Cultivating basils at home makes it easier to access. Furthermore, basils are not just being planted in the gardens at homes.
They are being planted indoors. Basils are planted indoors due to several reasons, a major one being harsh weather.
It’s easier to grow basil indoors where you have total control of the kind of environment the plant produces.
To help you plant your basil correctly and have healthy leaves for whatever purpose you wish, you may need a guide. Eleven tips to grow basil indoors are stated below.
1. Acquire viable seeds
The first step to take when planting basil indoors is, of course, to get the basil seeds. When acquiring basil seeds, make sure you get good seeds. Seeds that have no-fault and will germinate as expected.
The quality of the seed of a plant determines the quality of the plant. If the basil seeds have a fault, physically or genetically, then the plant will have a fault.
Therefore, always make sure you thoroughly check your basil seeds before planting them. Do not bother planting bad seeds if you want to save yourself the stress in the future.
You can get basil seeds from your basil plants if you have any. You can also buy basil seeds at a garden store or a nearby nursery.
If there are no garden stores near you, you can buy basil seeds online. However, ensure to do proper research on the store’s quality from where you purchase the seeds.
Researching the store, you are patronizing ensures you get good basil seeds. Be sure to plant the seeds once you acquire them.
If you aren’t ready to plant the seeds, then don’t purchase them. Instead, buy them once you are prepared to plant.
2. Use suitable soil
Basils require a specific kind of soil to grow well. Basil thrives in well-drained soil. A soil that doesn’t store too much water and is porous enough for quality air.
Also, basil loves natural nutrients. So make sure that the soil you will plant your basil in has enough natural nutrients.
Nitrogen (N), Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), Sulphur (S), and Potassium (K) are major nutrients basil requires to grow healthy.
You can also provide these nutrients with fertilizers.
In addition, endeavor to plant your basil in soil with PH levels six-seven. To maintain or derive this PH level, you may decide to mix an organic fertilizer into the ground you are planting your basil.
If you are using a non-organic fertilizer, be careful what kind you use. For example, since basil is mainly used for cooking purposes, using certain non-organic fertilizers may be harmful to the consumer.
To check the pH level of the soil, you can use PH Strips.
Fertilize the soil once to ensure the constant supply of nutrients to the plant. Also, check the PH level of the earth to make sure that the ground doesn’t get too toxic due to the fertilizer applied to the soil.
3. Acquire a suitable planting container
It is convenient to use a planting pot with enough space to plant your basil seeds indoors. Space is vital for basils to grow correctly. The container should be large enough to contain five to seven basil plants.
If you’re using a planting tray, the tray should be large enough to hold three basil seeds (which will grow to be planted so that you know).
If you don’t have a planting pot, any suitable (clay, plastic, stone, or concrete-made container) and the well-spaced container is perfect for your basil plant. However, a clay pot and a plastic seedling tray are ideal for planting herbs indoors.
Fill about 75% of the container with the soil you have acquired. Make the soil moist before filling the container. Then, you can use a spraying bottle to apply water to the earth.
Spraying bottles are preferred when planting basil indoors because water is released in a smaller and more controlled method than a watering can or other watering methods.
Make a few tiny holes for drainage at the bottom of whatever container you have chosen to use. These holes help to ensure proper drainage in the soil.
Put a tray under the pot to stop the water that may leak from the container from spreading all over your house.
If you are using small seedling trays, plant more than one seed in each tray, preferably three sources for each tray.
This action is just in case, not all the seeds germinate (which relates to why you need to acquire viable seeds).
If you are using an enormous container, then you can plant five to seven seeds. The space between each of the seeds should be equal (two or three centimeters apart).
It is not compulsory to press the seeds into the soil. You can scatter them on the earth and sprinkle dry soil on them. The soil to be spread on the seeds should not be much.
It is to cover the seeds and protect them while they germinate. A layer of 0.5-0.7cm is just perfect. Resist the urge to press the soil down after planting.
Spray some more water to the soil, especially the newly added layer. You can also use your fingers to sprinkle tiny drops of water till the soil is moist enough in the absence of a spray bottle.
It is advisable to place transparent plastic leather over the container to prevent the moisture from evaporating.
5. Proper sunlight
Basil needs a lot of sunlight to survive. The amount of sun a basil plant receives determines how fast it terminated and the quality of the leaves.
Basil requires at least five to six hours of sunlight every day. Therefore, you can place your basil at a warm window that receives the most sunlight in your house.
However, be careful not to put your basil directly at the window, especially if it is made of glass. The glass may cause the basil to get extremely hot or extremely cold rather quickly.
Suppose you happen to live in an environment that lacks quality sunlight. In that case, you can use artificial light sources to provide your plan with ‘sunlight.
If you place your basil under artificial light with little to no sunlight, then the light should be made available to the plant for 10-12 hours of the day.
Some popularly artificial lights used for basils are fluorescent grow lights and high-intensity lights specially designed for plants.
It would be best if you positioned standard fluorescent lights approximately two inches above the plant.
It would help if you placed high output and compact fluorescent lights about one foot above the plant.
High-intensity lights that have a more substantial effect should be placed two to four feet above the plant.
One should be very careful when watering a basil plant. Overwatering basil plants causes the root to rot.
When the plant’s root is deteriorating, it can’t get enough nutrients and water required to keep the plant alive and healthy across the different parts of the plant.
Also, under watering a basil plant causes it to get dehydrated. When a plant doesn’t have enough water, it can not survive. Even if it does, it will not give the same quality products as a plant receiving enough water.
Water your basil plant adequately. Don’t apply too much water, and don’t apply too little. For example, rather than watering your basil from the top, from the leaves to the stems to the soil, water the plant from the bottom.
If you pour the water directly at the soil line, the roots can quickly and easily absorb the water and spread it across the whole plant. Also, your leaves won’t end up damp.
You can check the moisture of the soil by dipping your finger about an inch into the ground. If the soil feels dry at that depth, then it means you have underwatered the plant.
If the soil feels too moist and too soft, then you are overwatering the plant. On the other hand, suppose the soil feels just right, moderately watered.
In that condition, you can stick to watering your plant after a few days’ intervals.
7. Imitate a natural habitat
Even though you are planting your basil indoors, try as much to imitate a natural habitat for the plant. You can do this by not just providing the plant with enough sunlight but also air.
Naturally, plants get to experience the cool air when they are outside. You can imitate this by making use of an electrical fan.
Please turn on the fan and set it to rotate at the lowest speed available. Putting the fan at its highest rate may cause the plant to break.
Direct the fan towards the plant and let it go on 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. Give your plant the golden opportunity to let its leaves move and rustle.
A good breeze is healthy for your basil. The air can also get into the porous soil of the basil plant and boost its growth.
The casual electric fan in your house will do just fine. An air conditioner will provide a cool temperature for the plant, but it will not give the soft wind.
So resist the urge to substitute the electric fan for an air conditioner.
Once your basil starts producing leaves, you should pay detailed attention to the plant. First, inspect the leaves every day. Second, check the soil for moisture. Third, check the position of the plant and ensure it is getting enough sunlight.
Finally, review the leaves for color changes as basil leaves are pretty prone to chlorosis.
Check if the leaves of the plant are wilting. If they are, you should resort to watering the plant and reducing the amount of sunlight it receives. Wilting of basil leaves is often caused by dehydration.
If your basil leaves are changing color and are losing their color, you should inspect them for a pest attack or fungal infection. You can quickly pour some water on the basil leaves to get rid of pests like insects.
Such pests take nutrients from the plant and cause the leaves to lose color. If the leaves are changing color due to fungal diseases like downy mildew, you can spray some specially made fungicide on the plant.
Whereas for a condition like fusarium wilt, You should remove the infected plant and disinfect the area side with other plants.
If you want to get quality basil leaves for a good pesto, you need to take quality care of your basil plant.
Thinning is simply the removal of a few plants from a collection of other plants in a situation of overcrowding. Basils need a lot of space to grow to their fullest.
Start thinning your plants out immediately, and the plants develop two leaf pairs. Keep thinning plants out until there is a space of 15-30cm between each basil plant.
You can quickly thin out plants by cutting the basil from the soil level or completely removing the basil from the roots.
If you decide to remove the basil from the roots, you can stick your fingers or stick it into the soil and remove the soil around the plant you want to thin out.
Then, go under the roots and carefully take the plant out.
You can decide to place the plant in another container or replant it in the same container but at a farther distance.
You must note that thinning should occur when the plant is still a seedling and is just developing.
Thinning is essential in basils as it prevents overcrowding in the container. When there are just a perfect number of basils in space, each basil can have enough nutrients, water, sunlight, and air to develop appropriately.
Once a seedling is as tall as six inches (15cm), you should cut off the top of the plant. At that height, it should have developed three sets of leaves. It only means that the plant is ready for pruning.
You can use shears to cut off the point directly above the newly developed sets of leaves.
We recommend pruning your plants regularly with a high-quality pruning shear. Click here to check the current price and availability of pruning shear on Amazon.
Pruning basil seedlings promote more leaf development and stop your basil from getting ‘leggy.’ It’s good to prune your basil every few weeks.
When trimming your basil, keep your eye out for weak or droopy leaves, discolored leaves, damaged leaves, and stunted leaves.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that leaves that you prune can also be consumed. So don’t just waste the leaves by throwing them away. Instead, inspect them and find out if you can sit and use them.
The best time to harvest your basil is before it starts flowering. The products produced before flowering have the best quality. They are bigger, tastier, and fresher.
Leaves that are produced when the basil is flowering are often bitter and smaller. The reason is that the plant focuses a more significant amount of its energy on developing flowers.
As a result, it uses less energy for creating leaves. When harvesting, do not pick more than 60-70% of the leaves. Basil needs leaves to photosynthesize and produce more leaves.
Therefore, always leave a considerable amount of leaves on the plant. Basils grow all year round, so don’t be afraid of picking the leaves early.
Pinching new leaves at the top of the basil plant promotes more leaves, thus keeping your basil plant bushy. Bushy basil means more pesto, salad, spices, etc.
Growing basil indoors may require a lot of attention and provision, but it is worth the effort. If you follow all the steps, you will have indoor basil plants of as much quality as basil grown outdoors.