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Is Italian Basil a Perennial? (Let’s Find Out)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 04:18 pm

One thing uncertain about most herbs in gardens is their lifespan. Some may last for a seemingly long time while others may not, and this differs quite a lot as they may be annual, biennial, or perennial.

A common question gardeners ask is if Italian basil is an annual or a perennial herb? Or is it somewhere in the biennial space?

Italian basil, which may be the sweet or Genovese basil, is a natural annual plant; this means, like most varieties of the basil plant, it completes its entire life cycle in a year. You can elongate its lifespan a bit by planting it indoors or protecting it against extreme weather conditions such as winter.

How do I Keep my Italian Basil Alive Longer?

Like every plant, proper care ensures better health results and the average time of growth of a plant.

As stated earlier, most basil types referred to as Italian basil complete their life cycle within a year; this can sometimes be in a lesser time than other plants of the same family.

The extra time for Italian basil to continue growing vegetatively depends on the gardener’s care for the plant. Some of such ways to keep your Italian basil alive longer includes;

1. Protecting your Italian Basil during the winter:

This is the most common care needed to keep your basil alive longer.

Like most basil varieties, your Italian basil isn’t exactly buddies with the cold and would likely die out during that time.

To ensure this does not happen to your basil, you should protect them from harsh winter conditions.

2. Picking your Italian basil:

The Italian basil loves to be picked; this means cutting off a few of its leaves or pruning them is beneficial to the plant’s overall health.

In addition, the process of picking the leaves of Italian basil encourages the plant to grow more vegetatively before it finally blooms.

3. Ensuring it has the optimum conditions required for growth:

This ranges from soil type to space and lighting. The Italian basil thrives best when provided with soil that is moist, well-drained, rich in nutrients, and with a pH that is neither acidic nor alkaline.

Also, having a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day and good watering twice a week enables Italian basil to grow well.

Subsequent increase and reduction in that amount based on the humidity of the atmosphere and the right amount of spacing between the shrubs would prolong the Italian basil life longer than its counterparts.

Will My Italian Basil Regrow Every Year?

The life of every Italian basil entails growing vegetatively for some time, flowering and seeding before dying off. Therefore, its lifespan usually takes about a year to complete.

Furthermore, Herbs that regrow every year through their seeds can sometimes be a way of surviving perennially and some herbs do these quite easily while others do not.

Yes, Italian basil can be a vigorous grower and though unlikely, produce seeds that can fall off the parent plant, and under the right conditions, may grow into new plants.

However, this is not the norm for the Italian basil, like most varieties of the basil plant, would produce seeds that are capable of growing into new plants but needs aid from the gardeners.

Italian basil is not so good with reseeding with the growth of new plants all by themselves. They need help in the planting of their seeds to ensure growth.

Italian basils do not survive the winter. As such, instead of hoping that the seeds of the basil would sprout into new plants after the winter, you can always get its seeds and plant them after the winter yourself.

You can also get cuttings from your original Italian basil and nurse them indoors during the winter for transplanting into your garden after the winter season may be over.

Doing this will ensure the regrowth of your Italian basil every year instead of leaving the Italian basil to reseed by itself.

Can I Keep Italian Basil Through Winter?

Italian basil does not do well in cold temperatures, and any point below 450F can lead to discoloration in your plant’s leaves, which is a sign of wilting.

Italian basil surviving the winter depends on the climate region you live in, as some winter temperatures are more extreme than others in certain places.

In zones where the atmospheric temperature in the winter season does not fall too cold, your Italian basil may likely survive the winter season there.

Italian basil thrives in warm climates and environments; hence, it is best to take your basils indoors if you can do this during the winter.

You can take your potted basil plants or new basil transplant from adult basil outside into an indoor nursery during the winter, where you can adjust the temperature to points that the basil can grow comfortably.

Indoor growth of your Italian basil during the winter is the best option to ensure that your plant survives in the winter.


Like most basil herbs, Italian basil is an annual plant that completes its entire growth period within a year.

The length of the annual growth where Italian basil grows vegetatively can be increased by creating simple conditions that can facilitate this growth.

One of such conditions is regulating the atmospheric temperature for Italian basil as they do not like cold weather. You can better manage this feat if you plant your Italian basil in pots that can be carried indoors.

Getting your Italian basil to survive the cold weather is key to ensuring its increase in its life span; this is also the best time to harvest the seeds to keep them viable for the next planting season.

In conclusion, Italian basil is an annual herb; however, its growth length can be affected by the actions you take to ensure this.

If you plan on getting the most out of your Italian basil, ensure to meet the conditions that will ensure its vegetative stay.


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