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Why is Purple Basil turning Green? (Explained)

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

There are many varieties of the Basil plant. One such popular variety is purple basil. This type of basil has purple-colored leaves; some excellent examples are Red Rubin basil and Amethyst basil.

Purple basils usually tend to turn green over time. Although the green color is generally associated with healthy plants, the color transformation from purple to green in this species of basil brings about a question.

Why is purple basil turning green?

Purple basils usually turn green because they lack anthocyanin (a pigment responsible for the intense purple color of purple basil leaves). When purple basil leaves lack enough of this pigment, the ever-present chlorophyll takes control, changing the color to green.

Why does my Purple Basil turn Light Green?

Although it has been established that purple basils lose their color due to the lack of a certain pigment, other factors surround this theory.

Some reasons purple basils turn light green include; insufficient sunlight, unstable anthocyanin, and a mixed-colored basil plant.

1. Insufficient sunlight

Other than being the cause of the purple color in plants, anthocyanin is also responsible for other colors, such as red and blue in plants.

The production of anthocyanin in plants depends mainly on the amount of sunlight reaching the plant. The more a plant is exposed to sunlight, the more anthocyanin is produced. This occurrence is no different from basil plants.

When your basil is not exposed to enough sunlight, the amount of anthocyanin produced is reduced. If the plant doesn’t produce enough anthocyanin, chlorophyll becomes the leading pigment. Thus, the color change.

2. Unstable anthocyanin

If your basil has unstable anthocyanin, probably due to its inheritance, some leaves will grow purple, and others will turn out green, growing from the same seed.

Another way to identify a purple basil plant with unstable anthocyanin is when some leaves have both green and purple patches. Basils that turn green due to unstable anthocyanin usually don’t have all the leaves changing to green.

3. Mixed-colored basil plant

Another common reason your purple basil turns green is that it is originally green and purple. Sometimes green basils are crossed with purple basils. Their offspring becomes a hybrid having two contrasting features.

Such basils have both purple and green leaves on the same plant. Or, they start growing as purple and then change to green.

Basils that have this trait are still addressed as purple basils. Examples of hybrid purple basils are Anise basil, Licorice basil, Purple Bush basil, and Tulsi basil (also known as Holy Basil).

How do You Prevent Purple Basil from Turning Green

Once your purple basil leaves turn green, there’s nothing you can do to change it back. Still, you can easily prevent this occurrence.

A few ways to prevent purple basil leaves from turning green are ensuring they have access to sunlight, are planted in a healthy environment, and take proper care of the plant.

1. Accessible sunlight

Ensure that wherever you planted your basil, indoors or outdoors, it gets enough sunlight.

Enough sunlight will enhance the production of anthocyanin. So as long as your basil gets quality sunlight, it will forever have its intense purple color.

2. Healthy environment

Basils survive better in neutral or mildly acidic soil. Also, the kind of soil it requires is a well-aerated one for enough air and water to pass through.

Plant your basil in suitable soil. A plant won’t function appropriately in an unhealthy soil/environment. Your basil won’t be healthy enough to produce enough anthocyanin.

Ensure you use suitable fertilizers and when due. Check the pot or soil for pests like insects that are dangerous to your basil.

3. Proper care

Always ensure that the soil where your basil is planted is moist and well-drained. If you are growing your basil indoors, use the appropriate container.

Take good care of your basil plant.

Why is my Basil Turning Light Green?

Basils can lose their color and turn light green. The primary cause for this color change is overwatering. Other possible reasons are pest infestation, disease, inadequate sunlight, lack of significant nutrients, and intense temperatures.

1. Overwatering

Overwatering your basil plant causes the roots to rot. When the roots of your basil rot, it can’t get enough nutrients for the plant, thus causing the leaves to get lighter in color.

Also, when you do not water your basil enough, the roots don’t rot, but they can’t get enough water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. This result will also cause the leaves to turn yellow or light green.

2. Pest infestation

Pests, especially insects, feed on the nutrients in the leaves of basil. As a result, the plant loses its nutrients, and the other leaves turn light green or yellow.

You can quickly get rid of these insects by spraying water on the plant or other mixtures that are only harmful to the pests.

Never ignore an insect on your basil leaf. They could multiply to two from one, becoming an infestation that has destroyed your plant.

3. Disease

Diseases reduce the productivity of basils. Basils are often affected by fungal infections. Downy mildew and Fusarium wilt are the most widespread fungal diseases that affect basis.

You can prevent fungal diseases by ensuring that your basil has enough access to air. Also, make sure that the environment your basil is planted in isn’t too damp.

If your basil has already contracted a disease, you need to immediately cut off infected leaves to prevent the spread of the disease to other parts of the plant or the other plants. 

4. Inadequate sunlight

Basils need about 6-8 hours of sunlight every day. This helps in the development of MOP. Also, it aids in the plant’s circulation of nutrients and water.

Avoid planting your basil under shade. If your basil isn’t getting enough sunlight, it can’t produce anthocyanin or nutrients, which will cause it to turn light green.

Always plant your basil in the presence of adequate sunlight.

5. Lack of essential nutrients

Plants, in general, need nutrients like Nitrogen (N), Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), Sulphur (S), and Potassium (K). These are significant nutrients required for the healthy growth of all plants.

The basil’s growth becomes stunted when lacking nutrients, and the leaves start yellowing or turning light green.

You can spray diluted liquid fertilizers on your basil plant once every two weeks. You can also apply manure to the soil. Organic compost comprises nutrients that boost the growth of the plant.

6. Extreme temperatures

Basils don’t perform well in too hot or too cold environments. It’s best to grow basil at a temperature within 20°C – 30°C.

In cold environments, the basil leaves dry up and lose their color. Growing basil in extremely cold weather can also lead to the death of the plant.

The basil quickly loses water when the weather is too hot, turning the leaves yellow or light green.

If basil grows in a neutral environment, preferably at room temperature, it can maintain its color.


As a basil owner, it’s good you have adequate knowledge about basils. This knowledge will tell you when to be alarmed if your purple basil is turning green.

Sometimes when your basil changes its color, it’s a natural and unavoidable occurrence. But most times, when basil leaves change color, it’s due to a fault. Taking good care of alarming and growing under suitable conditions prevents this occurrence.

Basils are very fragile plants and need a lot of care and detailed attention to get quality products. However, the result of being a good basil farmer is always worth it.


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