While basil does very well when grown outdoors, it can also be grown indoors, as long as it is provided with the right conditions. You can grow basil indoors as a herb to add more flavor to your dishes, or for aesthetic purposes. Here is a guide on the best way to grow the herb indoors:
Table of Contents
- 1. Select the Ideal Area for Growing the Plant
- 2. Growing Container
- 3. Planting the Seeds
- 4. Adding Fertilizer
- 5. Air Circulation
- 6. Pruning the Plants
- 7. Re-potting Basil
- 8. Harvesting Basil
- 9. Preserving Basil
- Varieties of Basil to Grow Indoors
- 7 Health Benefits of Basil
- Nutritional Benefits of Basil
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Select the Ideal Area for Growing the Plant
Basil is a light lover. Place the plants near a west or south-facing window so that it can be exposed to sunlight. If this is not achievable, purchase growing light for your plants. If you are using fluorescent lights, place the lights 4” from the plant. High-intensity discharge lights are also ideal for providing light to the herbs. Switch them on for at least 12 hours every day.
2. Growing Container
Get a plastic, terracotta or clay container for your plants. If you wish to grow a single plant in a container, an 8-inch one will be suitable. For multiple plants in a single container, it should be at least 12-inches. The container should have drainage holes at the bottom.
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3. Planting the Seeds
For basil to thrive well, it requires soil that is rich in nutrients, and well-draining. Potting soil will be a perfect choice for this. Put the soil in the container and add water to make it moist. Sprinkle the seeds on the container and cover them with dry potting soil. Use a spray bottle to add water to the soil surface.
Growing Basil From Stem Cuttings
- Remove the leaves of a 4-inch basil stem on the bottom two inches.
- Submerge the bottom part of the stem in water. After some time, the stem will develop roots. Let them grow up to 2 inches.
- Plant the stem in a container with potting soil and add water.
- After a week, the plants will start germinating. Continue adding more water to the plants. Add it directly to the soil surface and not on the leaves. Only add water when the soil feels dry.
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4. Adding Fertilizer
Add a water-soluble fertilizer to the soil after every 4-6 weeks. Plants grown in containers will require frequent addition of fertilizers as they utilize the nutrients available in the planting media at a faster rate than those planted directly on the soil.
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5. Air Circulation
Plants grown indoors may face air circulation challenges. The seedlings can easily grow molds. To provide adequate circulation, place a small fan facing your plants and turn it on for a few hours in a day.
6. Pruning the Plants
Pruning your plants will help them develop lots of bushy leaves.do the first pruning when they achieve a height of 6 inches with 4-5 leaves sets.
7. Re-potting Basil
If you initially planted your plants in a small pot, they might outgrow it. In this case, you should transfer them to a larger container. One of the indicators that your plants are outgrowing a container is the emergence of roots from the drainage holes.
8. Harvesting Basil
Harvest the leaves before the plant start flowering. Harvesting them at this stage ensures that you get fresh leaves.
Use harvesting scissors to cut the leaves or pinch them with your fingers. Do not harvest all leaves at a go. Leave some so that your plant will not lack the energy to grow healthily.
Harvesting the leaves will encourage the development of others.
9. Preserving Basil
You may not use all the leaves you harvest from your plants. There are various methods in which you can preserve them, so that they can last longer. Some of these methods include:
Take the leaves from the stem and steam them for two minutes. Dry and put them in a freezer bag, then put them in a freezer.
Air-dry the leaves, or use a dehydrator. After they are completely dry, crush and store them in an airtight container.
Varieties of Basil to Grow Indoors
1. Sweet Basil
Sweet basil is the most common basil variety.it has cup-shaped leaves. It is commonly used in making soup and tomato sauces. Sweet basil also repels mosquitoes.
2. Dark Opal Basil
The dark color of dark opal basil makes it unique. Apart from its culinary uses, growing this variety indoors will enhance the aesthetic appearance of your space.
3. Thai Sweet Basil
Sweet Thai basil is not common and is spicier than many basil varieties. It also produces a sweet fragrance and doesn’t lose its flavor even when cooked at high temperatures, unlike other basil varieties.
4. Lemon Basil
The light green lemon basil has white flowers. It looks much like sweet basil, with the only difference being its lemon flavor.
You can also dip the leaves in your tea to give it that lemon flavor.
Lemon basil is commonly added in fish dishes, desserts, and poultry marinades.
5. African Blue Basil
This basil variety is unique, as it grows tall, up to 4 feet. Unlike several basil varieties, the African blue basil is a perennial. Apart from being a useful ingredient in the kitchen, it also enhances the beauty of your indoor space.it is a great addition in meat and vegetable dishes.
7 Health Benefits of Basil
- It detoxifies the body and promotes the health of the liver
- It inhibits the growth of bacteria responsible for teeth decay
- Some varieties of basil repel mosquitoes that may cause malaria
- The essential oils present in basil help fight depression and other mental disorders.it also prevents memory loss that comes from stress.
- Basil oil is an essential skin cleanser and prevents its early aging.
- It contains antioxidants that fight free radicals.
- The anti-inflammatory properties of basil lower the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and heart diseases.
Nutritional Benefits of Basil
Basil contains beneficial vitamins such as A and K. it also has calcium, manganese, and iron.
Growing herbs indoors is fun. It does not require special care. If you provide it with the ideal growing conditions, you will be enjoying fresh herbs directly from your home. Apart from adding flavor to various dishes, it offers several nutritional and health benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Could be you did not provide the plants with the right growing conditions such as adequate moisture and light. Still, you could have sowed your seeds too deep. Sow other seeds and follow the growing instructions.
Basil plants are annuals. They will only survive for one flowering cycle, after which you will have to sow new seeds. If your plant dies before reaching the cycle, it may be as a result of over/under watering, or insufficient sunlight.
Many varieties of basil will take 30-60 days to fully mature.
The basil flowers are edible. They have a milder flavor of basil leaves. You can add them to salads to add a decorative touch too. Pick them before they develop into seeds.
Indoor basil can be affected by various fungal and bacterial diseases. They can also be affected by pests like aphids and powdery mildew.
To prevent that, don’t overcrowd your plants. When watering them, apply the water directly on the soil; don’t let it get on the foliage.