One of the most popular herbs in America, basil is not only a delicious ingredient, but also boasts a number of medicinal and therapeutic qualities.

Check out all our basil varieties: Purple Opal Seed, Genovese Sweet Seed

Fresh Basil—What’s Not to Love?

Fresh Basil—What's Not to Love?

It’s probably safe to say that basil is one of America’s favorite herbs. Its tantalizing aroma makes it a favorite herb to grow indoors or outdoors proximate to living space. And, its fragrantly-sweet, slightly peppery flavor make it a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches and just about any kind of cooked dish you can imagine. Most people are familiar with it as a longtime staple in Italian cooking, but it’s ubiquitous in cuisines around the world.

Interesting Facts About Basil Plants

Fact 1
Basil—ocimum basilicum—is a tender annual and member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), which also includes oregano and rosemary, in addition to, of course, mint. Also known as Saint Joseph’s wort, there are 35 different types of basil in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes.
Fact 2
In addition to its beautiful appearance, aroma and taste, basil has been used for medicinal and a variety of other purposes throughout the ages. For example, essential oil made from basil is used to relieve a variety of health issues from gastric distress to respiratory problems. It’s also used as a skin moisturizer, toner and antibacterial aid. And it’s used in aromatherapy to reduce nervous tension and induce relaxation.

Basil Gardening Tips

Difficulty
Difficulty

Basil likes sunny, dry weather which can be a challenge in some regions.

Sun
Sun

Minimum of 6 hours; 8 hours is better

Water
Water

Keep soil moist but be careful not to over-water; basil doesn’t like to be too wet and can tolerate brief dry periods. As always, be sure to water gently when seeds are first planted and just after seedlings appear.

Soil
Soil

Well-drained, warm, rich in organic matter; pH can range from 5.5-7.0. Basil requires warm soil to grow: at least 70°F.

Air
Air

70°F is ideal

Timing
Timing

In northern zones, plant seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last anticipated spring frost or direct sow outdoors about two weeks afterward.

Planting
Planting

Plant seeds ¼” deep. Basil needs good air circulation so thin plants to at least 9-12 inches apart (refer to seed packet for details)

Germination
Germination

5-10 days

Feeding
Feeding

Organic fertilizer can be added at outdoor planting time or 3 weeks after transplanting

Mulch
Mulch

Important to keep the ground around them from drying out.

Pests & Diseases
Pests & Diseases

Basil is susceptible to some diseases which may originate from your soil; be careful when watering not to splash wet soil up onto your plants. As always, it’s best to water in the morning. Be sure plants have plenty of air circulation. Insect pest threats include aphids, slugs and Japanese beetles.

Special Considerations
Special Considerations

Basil tends to grow fast and become leggy in hot weather. You must pinch back the plants to make them bushier and eliminate any flowers that appear.

Companion Plants
Companion Plants

Tomatoes, parsley, lettuce and peppers

Container-Friendly
Container-Friendly

Yes! Be sure the container has plenty of drainage holes

Harvesting Basil

Harvesting BasilBasil can be harvested as soon as the true leaves appear, though you should wait until you plants mature a bit. You can continue to harvest all season long as the plants continue to grow. Harvest leaves from the top half of the plant.

Growing Basil—Highlights

  • Among the most popular herbs, it can be used in a variety of recipes, medicinal, and home remedies
  • Grow it to make your own delicious pesto or caprese salad
  • It’s a beautiful, fragrant addition to your garden and may deter mosquitoes
  • Basil thrives in sunny, hot, dry weather and is particularly sensitive to cold weather
  • Basil dries and freezes well so you can use it year-round
  • It contains a number of important nutrients including essential Vitamin K
  • Attracts important pollinators such as bees and butterflies

Here at Bentley Seeds, we want to set you up for success. Our growing guides are designed to give you all the information you'll need to start growing from seed, in an easy-to-digest format.

We also encourage you to print out a copy as a handy reference in your garden.