Basil Tips and Tricks

 

At market I often get customers asking a basil plant if it would like to come home with them to die... I joke "they are the most finicky plant" but everyone wants it, everyone loves it. So I give them these bits of knowledge and often have them reporting back over the summer that for the first time they've kept a basil plant alive and well.

If you'd like to try your luck with these tips - basil plants are ready to go home with you now. Pre-order a plant and you'll receive contactless pickup times within the week. *Only ready for housepets or heated greenhouses. Mid-June will be a good time for unheated greenhouses and early July if you insist on having it outside.

So what are the tricks?

One universal trick for all multi-harvest herbs is you're maximum harvest is a third of the plant, and giving it time recover from the shock and to rejuvenate. Which means you want a bigger, bushier plant in order to get a substantial harvest at any one time.

Basil Tip #1

"Topping" at a young age is how to do this. We top basil plants before ever leaving our care but this is a process that can be repeated when harvesting.

  

So in the first photo there are 6 leaves (look closely). To top we pinch off the two smallest leaves. By doing so they actually get replaced by 4 small leaves - as you can see in the second photo. These two sets of leaves become two sister stems meaning your basil now is twice as bushy, with twice the potential harvest. Once each stem is established, you can repeat this process to make 2 stems into 4 stems.

Before moving on to the other tips for basil, topping is also what we do with pepper plants... these two images below are our escamillo peppers. We usually only top peppers once. A bushier plant means more peppers, which shouldn't be a problem for this prolific variety.

   

Basil Tip #2

They like it hot ... and shady.

Basil Tip #3

They like it humid... and dry

These two tips go together - we literally have had sun umbrellas over our basil in the greenhouse. You can give it more heat and humidity by placing a dome over your basil, especially if you have it in your house. The trick them is to mist the inside of your dome - do be careful to not water the leaves because they can get sunburned - having them out of constant direct sun does help with this as well. Usually a window in a house is shaded enough though on average.

They also don't like too much water. Many people will over water all small plants, so this is a bit of a universal tip as well - keep in mind you are watering the plant not the pot. Particularly when you size up pots, there's a great tendency to "water the pot". Basil particularly likes dry soil though. Keep watching it for signs of droopy leaves to know if you're under watering but a oz of water every day is often enough. Sunnier, hotter days may require more - and as your plant becomes larger, more will also be required.

If you'd like to try your luck with these tips - basil plants are ready to go home with you now. Pre-order a plant and you'll receive contactless pickup times within the week.  *Only ready for housepets or heated greenhouses. Mid-June will be a good time for unheated greenhouses and early July if you insist on having it outside.