How to Grow Basil from Seed: Growing Basil Indoors and in Pots

How to Grow Basil Indoors from Seed: A Complete Guide

Basil is one of the easiest plants to grow. It isn’t picky and will grow almost anywhere, in anything. Including in a pot in your home! Basil is the perfect indoor container plant. It looks beautiful while growing, spicing up whatever room may host it. It is an excellent addition to so many meals, so having it at your fingertips is an invaluable convenience.

It also can have awesome health benefits, reducing inflammation, fighting bacterial infections, and improving digestive health, to name a few. This complete guide will teach you how to grow basil from seeds, in a container, indoors, covering how to plant basil seeds, care for your basil plants, and harvest basil.

What You Will Need

  • Basil seeds
  • Pot
  • Soil
  • Water
  • Organic Fertilizer
  • Common Gardening Tools

Can You Grow Basil Indoors?

Yes, you can absolutely grow basil indoors! The growing process, minus a few key differences, is very similar to growing basil in your garden.

healthy basil plants in pots ready to harvest

For starters, growing basil indoors means that you don’t have to base its growing schedule on outdoor temperatures. As long as you keep your home between 60-75 F, it is at an ideal temperature for basil.

Although the outdoor temperature might not affect your basil, the amount of sunlight your basil gets will. If you want to grow basil during the winter, you can probably still be successful in doing so if you live in a place with sunny winters. If you don’t, you need to consider alternatives.

One is growing your basil under florescent lights. Keep in mind though that your basil needs to be exposed to 10 hours of fluorescent lighting a day, to have an amount of light equivalent to 6 hours of sunlight.

Another alternative is using a grow light. The grow light should be positioned a few inches above your basil seedling. As the plant grows, raise the light. If the plant starts to look leggy than you should move the light closer. If the plant starts to develop white spots on its leaves, move it away.

Level of Difficulty: Is Basil Easy to Grow from Seed?

Basil is one of the easiest plants to grow, and that goes for growing it from seeds as well! Growing basil from seeds is so easy that you can actually sow basil seeds directly into your garden or container.

single basil seedling sprouting from soilThe only reason you would ever need to start basil from plants or seedlings is if you were trying to reduce the time between planting and harvesting.

Otherwise, even if you are a beginner gardener, growing basil from seeds is simple and rewarding.

When Should Basil Be Planted?

If you are growing basil outdoors, you should plant it no earlier than 2 weeks after the last frost. Basil is very sensitive to cold weather and will die if exposed to frost.

However, if you are growing your basil indoors in a pot, you can plant it literally whenever you want to. June? Sure. October? Why not? December? Go crazy!

Just keep in mind that it will take 6-8 weeks for your plant to be ready for harvest, so if you have big basil plans on a certain date, plan accordingly.

How to Grow Basil From Seed Indoors

Step One: Prepare For Planting

Pick out a spot for your basil that will receive at least 6 hours of sunshine a day. If no such spot exists in your home, set up your grow light or fluorescent light situation.

basil seed starts in containerChoose which type of basil you want to grow. Whether it’s sweet basil, Thai basil, Genovese basil, or another kind, whichever basil plant you choose will have its own unique look, taste, and purpose.

Also, pick out your container. Basil grows well in most containers, being an extremely low-maintenance and easygoing plant.

If the wide-range of container possibilities is paralyzing you, the “ideal basil pot” is about  15 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep.

Pro Tip: Feel free to get creative with your basil container. It can be grown in anything from a classic pot to a suitcase, laundry basket, kiddie pool- the possibilities are endless.

Step Two: Start Your Seeds

You may be wondering, “Should I soak basil seeds before planting?” You can, but your plant won’t suffer if you don’t. Soaking seeds leads to them germinating faster, so if you are eager to harvest, go for it, however, if you don’t, there won’t be a negative outcome for your plant.

So how do you soak basil seeds? The night before planting, fill up a bowl with warm water. The water should be firmly warm: cold water will do nothing for the seeds and hot water will traumatize them.

Pour the seeds in and let them soak. After a few hours, remove them from the bowl. The next morning they will be ready for planting.

Step Three: Plant Your Seeds

Fill up your container of choice with a rich, loose potting soil. The soil should have a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and be fertilized with organic fertilizer before you add the seeds.

Fill the container up to 1 inch from its rim. Distribute the seeds evenly over the soil. Then, cover them with ¼ an inch of soil, keeping in mind that basil seeds need sunlight to properly germinate.

Once you have planted your basil seeds, water thoroughly. The seeds will take 5-10 days to germinate.

Step Four: Care for Your Basil

Water your basil plant every day in the morning, applying water to the plant’s base. The top inch of soil should be kept moist, but there should be no standing water.

healthy basil plants in a container

Once leaves start to appear, thin out plants so they are at least 6 inches apart from each other, using scissors to clip them at the soil line.

Rotate plants as they grow to keep them from heavily favoring one side

Pro Tip: Make sure to check your basil plant for mold. If they develop mold it means they are not getting enough sunshine or are too close to other plants.

Step Five: Pinch Your Plants

The flowers that grow on basil plants can be a pleasant, pretty surprise. But you do have to pinch them off. Why? Because they can change the hormones of basil plants causing the leaves to lose their flavor. After you remove the flowers, in as little as a day, the leaves will regain their full flavor.

Once your basil passes 4 inches in height, you also need to pinch off its top branches. This causes more side branches to grow, which will eventually lead to a taller plant, encouraging your basil to make stronger stems and leaves.

Pro Tip: Basil is a hardy grower, so be wary of the need to re-pot the plant if it gets out of control.

Step Six: Harvest Your Basil

Once your plant surpasses a height of 7 inches you can harvest its leaves. The more frequently you harvest the basil, the more leaves it will produce.

To harvest, gently remove leaves by pinching them off at the stem, right where the pairs of basil leaves sprout off. Where you harvested the basil, 2 more leaves will start growing, leading to twice the amount of leaves being ready for harvest next time.

Pro Tip: NEVER cut the central stem. It will not grow back.

Step Seven: Enjoy!

After raising it from a seed to a blossoming plant, you deserve to enjoy your basil. Basil is an awesome addition to tons of recipes, bringing flavor to Caprese salads, pizza, lasagna, pesto, cocktails, and so on.

For the most flavor, harvest your basil 5-10 minutes before using it in a dish. If you end up with more basil than you can handle, an easy way to store it is by using it to make pesto and then storing that pesto in jars.

harvested basil in large metal bowl

Conclusion

Growing basil indoors is an excellent project for beginners and advanced gardeners alike.

Basil is super easy to grow, and a beautiful decorative plant, a delicious addition to so many meals, and a nutritional powerhouse. You can also use these tips for growing basil outside or in your garden.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned everything you needed to know to successfully grow basil from seed. If you liked it, be sure to share, and comment with any thoughts or questions below!

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