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Ideal Care Tips for You to Nurture Your Basil Plant Perfectly

Basil Plant Care
Fresh basil leaves have excellent healing properties. There are specific requirements for the healthy growth of this plant. This article lists some care tips.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
Basil, botanically known as ocimum tenuiflorum, is one of the most commonly grown herbs found in the world. The basil leaves are not only extensively used in herbal preparations in Ayurveda, but also in traditional Chinese medicines. In many parts of the world, especially Asia, the plant is revered and given scriptural and spiritual importance. Basil's powerful medicinal values make it a great plant to have in your home and garden.

Care Tips

Basil is a low-maintenance herb that comes in many varieties. The common ones grown in most gardens are sweet basil, holy basil, Thai basil, and lemon basil. Most of these plants achieve a height of two feet that sprout bright green 3-4 inch long leaves and tiny white flowers that are borne towards the end of the tender branch spikes. The leaves are subtly fragrant, especially when fresh leaves are crushed. In some varieties, the leaves have a purple border. Fresh and dried forms of the herb are also used for culinary purposes. Whether grown indoors in pots or as outdoor garden plants, the plant requires the same amount of attention and maintenance.

Plant: While getting the herb from the nursery, make sure you get one that is standing straight and has a few slender branches that have sprouted from all the sides. The leaves should be bright green. Make sure the plant is not diseased, and that the leaves are not yellow or brown. The herb can also be propagated by cuttings or layering. Basil can be grown from its seeds; just sprinkle a few on a raised bed, lightly water it, and cover it for a couple of days. Remove the cover as soon you find that the seeds have germinated.

Soil: The plant thrives in light soil. So while getting a pot or preparing a place to plant it, ensure that the soil is part sandy, well-composted, and well-drained. Too much compost will damage the plant and lead to root rotting. As it is a tropical plant, it needs to be protected from the cold winds and frost. It does well in both full as well as partial sun. The plant can tolerate soil pH in a range between 6 to 8.

Water: Basil does not like excess watering. Too much water causes its stems to rot and the leaves to wilt away. In warmer climates, daily sprinkling can be done, and the plant can be given a wash in the evenings. This will cool off the warmth around the plant. In colder climates, water the plant only when required. Heavily mulch around so that adequate moisture will be retained which is beneficial for growth. You can even till the soil regularly to ensure that the soil does not harden up, and water drainage takes place easily.

Fertilizer: Basil needs minimal fertilizing, too much will burn the plant out. Never fertilize in extremely hot or cold seasons or when the plant is in its dormant stage. Too much artificial and fast release fertilizer will hasten plant growth, which will damage the plant in the long run. Use organic fertilizer or liquid fertilizer. Add the fertilizer away from the main stem of the plant and water the plant after every application.

Pests: Basil gets inflicted with pests for two primary reasons: too much water, and not enough sunlight. Too much dampness in the soil results in fungal diseases such as pythium wilt and fusarium wilt. When you notice such infliction in the plants, immediately control the watering, air out the plant, and cut the diseased stems and leaves off. You can dust anti-fungal powder or spray the plant with a pesticide solution. Other pests include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. They can all be cleared out using the appropriate anti-fungal or anti-bacterial solutions or powders.

Caring for basil does not take too much time and effort. Simple measures such as ensuring good drainage, adequate water, enough sunlight, and good quality slow release fertilizer will keep your plant in very good condition.
Watering plant
Holding fertilizer in hand
Fresh basil plant
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Holy Basil, Ocimum Sanctum
view of basil in pot